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Saturday, Oct 16, 2021
Outlook.com

Grace Marks

The subsoil of the economy? No, India's working women are invisible only because we choose not to look...

Grace Marks
Tribhuvan Tiwari
Grace Marks
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
We all know about Third World women and international supply chains. But who expects to find the footprints of globalisation on the slushy streets of Sunder Nagri? This East Delhi slum colony fits everyone's idea of a slum colony—excreta floating in open drains, a maze of tenement-lined alleys, film music, stray animals, half-naked children...and, in an open doorway, a bunch of young women with purple bundles.

The bundles turn out to be chic jersey tops with long bell sleeves, the labels on them those of a top American retailer of trendy casualwear. The women will take them home and carefully edge each neckline with a border of purple beads for Rs 25 per top. This is the best rate they've got for their work—the good offices of SEWA (Self Employed Women's Association) have helped eliminate a subcontractor or two. It's still a fraction of the value that 250 delicately sewn beads will add to a garment that may sell for $50 in San Francisco next spring.

But there are no dollar signs in Rajda's hazel eyes.

The numbers that speak to this 23-year-old woman, with...
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