I am taking a few months off from coding and working on a research project with an public health NGO in India to fulfill a requirement for a graduate degree program. At this organization, there are at least a half dozen people hired to do what might be considered low paid, menial jobs.
For example, there is one guy who, as far as I can tell, is responsible for keeping the staff well caffienated. Don’t get me wrong. I spend all day combing through lengthy articles and documents which single-handedly have the ability to put me fast asleep. So to me, this guy is a life saver.
Another example is the old lady who every morning goes up and down our street sweaping the side walk. While this may seem like an unnecessary job, the city, and I would agree, feels that it is worth paying someone to keep garbage from piling up in the streets.
What this amounts to is a form of welfare. There are literally over a million people in the city of Chennai living below the poverty level. Giving all of these people a free handout would be an unmanagable burden on the government. However, providing low paying jobs for people not only gives them some sort of income, it also gives them a feeling of security and use. These people may be poor but I have a lot of respect for them.
India is a confusing place. There are things that I see wrong here. However, there may also be a few things to learn.
Consequently, my research project has to do with identifying local best practices and figuring out how to share them with different countries.