Mumbai, India, 2005, men scraping a boat for repainting, in the Bay

When we think of India and low-cost labor, most of us think of call centers and perhaps rote computer coding and accounting. But those are actually upper-middle class professions there. The real cheap labor, which includes Dalit women, digs ditches and sorts trash. Then there is this job, in the toxic shallow water off Mumbai. These guys are scraping the bottom of a boat prior to its repainting. Normally a boat is brought ashore and put on braces for this operation. But in India it is cheaper to drop anchor on one side, rolling the boat over in shallow water and putting labor in the water. The temperature is 95 F with 90% humidity. The water is a gray, oily color, they probably don’t know how to swim, and the boat could right itself suddenly. CLICK on this photo to see a really nasty job.

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