associate sponsors


In Kolkata, poor sleep where they work to send more money home | Reuters

KOLKATA In India's Kolkata, street workers from second-hand clothes sellers to rickshaw drivers say they rest and sleep where they work, too poor to afford a home of their own.

Many of them moved to the city from states including Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha, where poverty is particularly acute. They say that being left to sleep outside by local authorities gives them a measure of security. "We have no shelter," said Nizamuddin, 60, who works in a wholesale market.

Bikash Tati, a 39-year-old labourer, is unperturbed by life on the streets. "We have food and we can sleep peacefully at night," he said.

But the poor and homeless in Mumbai and Delhi are often disturbed at night, workers in Kolkata said over and over. The lower cost of living in Kolkata also allows migrant workers to put a little aside to send to families who stayed at home, they said.

For a Reuters photo essay, please click on

In Kolkata, as Calcutta is now called, cycle rickshaw drivers sleep in their vehicles at night. The vegetable market, too, is both workplace and home. Men wash at municipal taps in the streets.

It's not a simple life. Nizamuddin, whose duties at his workplace include pouring cooking oil into tins and weighing them, uses plastic sheets to take shelter from rains and the chill in winter. He wishes there were night shelters for workers like him.

The streets of Kolkata, whose poverty Mother Teresa embraced, also offer leisure opportunities when the working day is over, games such as chess or carrom. A masseur tends to a customer on the banks of the River Ganges.

Among the next generation, some have set their life goals early on. Rahul Shaw, 10, reads a textbook in his father's rickshaw before he goes to a government-run school that gives him free meals. His ambition: to become a doctor and treat people for free.

(Writing by Brian McGee; Reporting by Rupak De Chowdhuri; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date: Mar 23, 2016 22:40 PM

Also Watch

Firstpost Poetry Project: Aashna Iyer presents '7 Minutes'
  • Friday, June 15, 2018 FIFA World Cup 2018: A journey through the football Mecca of Kerala
  • Saturday, June 16, 2018 Social Media Star: Masaba Gupta, Pooja Dhingra discuss WhatsApp groups, unfollowing people and stalking profiles
  • Thursday, June 21, 2018 I Breathe: Natasha Noel's spoken word poetry on Yoga
  • Monday, June 4, 2018 It's A Wrap: Bhavesh Joshi Superhero makers Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane in conversation with Parul Sharma

Also See

{if $hideJSforEU != 'yes'} {/if}