A Street Hawker
We find street hawkers in every city. They are a common feature of a city life. They belong to the poor section of the city population and they cannot afford much to invest or pay for the shop rend usually. Therefore, they sell their goods in the streets.
The streets are usually alive with shouts since morning the hawkers are found selling vegetables and fruits. They sometimes carry baskets on their heads and shout loudly the vegetables or fruits that they carry. Thus, the house- wives, who cannot afford to go to the distant market, buy vegetables and fruits from the street hawker. The street hawkers have fresh and green vegetables that they sell in the street of a big town or a big city. The house –wives wait for them. They get vegetables at comparatively cheap rates also. They wait for the street hawkers curiously.
But during the whole day we find a large number of hawkers. They bring other goods to sell. Sometimes they bring sweets and other dainties for the children and the ladies living in afar off streets. They use ‘Vanaspati Ghee’ or oil and sour sauce. Such palatable things find favour with woman living in cities. During summer season the women and children wait for ice cream sellers. They come out of their houses with money and get the eatables that they like. They buy ice- balls. They suck it in their mouths and enjoy much. The children also get such eatables. The mothers cannot resist their children at all and they pay for buying such things for them.
We find hawkers in the streets selling the goods that are required by the people for use in their houses. They carry articles that are inferior in quality. These are mostly cheap and third-rate articles that are brought by the women- folk. Thus, the women- folk are entrapped by the street hawkers to buy these cheap articles for use in their homes. They find the articles in attractive colours and they do not know much about their quality.
A street hawker lives a hard life. Even the poor buy their articles. They are the petty customers of them. A street Hawker lives a life which is very hard. He can earn money that can hardly support him. He can hardly make his both ends meet. He leads an adventures life. Like a poor man he work is all through the day and thus he supports his children.
Essay No. 02
The Street Hawker
Many housewives these days have grown lethargic. They avoid going to the market to make purchases. Moreover, when the street hawkers are there to provide them with all the essential commodities at their door steps, why should they waste their time and energy in going to the market?
Street hawkers can frequently be seen in streets in almost all the cities and even small towns. They sell all kinds of goods from cosmetics, artificial jewellery, vegetables and fruits to blankets, mats, etc. Usually they raise loud voices to invite the customers.
I’m here talking about a particular street hawker. His name is Ramu. He sells vegetables. He has been visiting our street for the past about one decade. He visits our street regularly. During the last many years, he must have missed to come just once or twice when he was laid up with fever. Otherwise, he comes without fail in sun and shower and even when the weather is stormy or frosty. Visiting streets to sell his wares seems to be his mission, though it also means that he is always living from hand to mouth and has to starve if he misses his journey into the streets even for a single day.
As soon as Ramu comes in the street and raises his voice crying for his wares, the housewives rush towards him to purchase vegetables. He is very particular about the quality of goods. He sells fresh and green vegetables. He never gives short measures as other vendors do. His rates are a bit on the higher side but his customers do not mind it.
In spite of doing hard labour, he cannot afford to wear good clothes. He is very sweethearted and is somewhat jocular at occasions. People, housewives in particular, like him very much and consider it a privilege to make purchases from him.
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Street vendors have been in existence since ancient times. In all civilisations, ancient and medieval, one reads accounts of travelling merchants who not only sold their wares in the town by going from house to house but they also traded in neighbouring countries. Perhaps ancient and medieval civilisations were tolerant to these wandering traders and that is why they flourished. In modern times we find that street vendors are rarely treated with the same measure of dignity and tolerance. They are targeted by municipalities and police in the urban areas as illegal traders, the urban middle class complains constantly on how these vendors make urban life a living hell as they block pavements, create traffic problem and also engage in anti-social activities (though more often than not, the same representatives of middle class prefer to buy from street vendors as the goods they sell are cheaper though the quality is as good as those in the overpriced departmental stores and shopping malls).
For most street vendors, trading from the pavements is full of uncertainties. They are constantly harassed by the authorities. The local bodies conduct eviction drives to clear the pavements of these encroachers and in most cases confiscate their goods. A municipal raid is like a cat and mouse game with municipal workers chasing street vendors away while these people try to run away and hide from these marauders. Confiscation of their goods entails heavy fines for recovery. In most cases it means that the vendor has to take loans from private sources (at exorbitant interests) to either recover whatever remains of his confiscated goods or to restart his business. Besides these sudden raids, street vendors normally have to regularly bribe the authorities in order to carry out their business on the streets. All these mean that a substantive income from street vending is spent on greasing the palms of unscrupulous authorities or to private money lenders. In fact in most cases street vendors have to survive in a hostile environment though they are service providers.
Who are street vendors?
A street vendor is broadly defined as a person who offers goods for sale to the public at large without having a permanent built up structure from which to sell. Street vendors may be stationary in the sense that they occupy space on the pavements or other public/private spaces or, they may be mobile in the sense that move from place to place by carrying their wares on push carts or in baskets on their heads. In this essay, the term street vendor includes stationary as well as mobile vendors and it incorporates all other local/region specific terms used to describe them.
There is substantial increase in the number of street vendors in the major cities around the world, especially in the developing countries of Asia, Latin America and Africa. We have identified two main causes for the growth of street vending in these countries. Firstly, lack of gainful employment coupled with poverty in rural areas has pushed people out of their villages in search of a better existence in the cities. These migrants do not possess the skills or the education to enable them to find better paid, secure employment in the formal sector and they have to settle for work in the informal sector. Secondly, there is another section of the population in these countries who are forced to join the informal sector. These are workers who were employed in the formal sector. They lost their jobs because of closures, down-sizing or mergers in the industries they worked in and they or their family members had to seek low paid work in the informal sector in order to survive. Both causes are directly related to globalisation.
(Ref: Sharit K. Bhowmik And Debdulal Saha-Report on Street Vending in Ten Cities in India)
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