Young Indians Abroad Return to Help Better Country

Neeraj Dooshi

hide captionNeeraj Doshi hopes to finance a new garbage collection company in India.

Jessica Goldstein, NPR
Ragpickers in India sort through trash

hide captionRagpickers in India sort through trash. There's so much trash, though, that much of it just gets left on the ground.

Jessica Goldstein, NPR
EcoWise poster

hide captionStartup EcoWise Waste Management has begun offering private trash collection.

Jessica Goldstein, NPR

Traveling though India's capital Delhi, one will see trash in both good and bad neighborhoods. Piles of trash, splayed across the sidewalk and along the curb can sit, uncollected, for days.

Eventually, someone comes along and removes the piles, but a few days or even hours later, the trash is back. It's almost never segregated for recycling.

"Trash is just trash," says Vinay Prakash, a young businessman who is helping create one of India's first waste-recycling companies, EcoWise Waste Management. "Primarily, we don't have any, any sense of category of waste. It's just waste with us."

But young Indians who grew up in Britain, Australia and America are now arriving here, hanging out with Indian friends, and important conversations about climate change and the enviroment are starting.

For example, Neeraj Doshi, an Indian who went to graduate school in America, met a British woman who joined a foundation in London. The group asked Doshi to help finance recycling projects in India. So, he started EcoWise Waste Management. The company is putting up signs in Noida, a city outside of Delhi, offering private trash collection for apartments and local businesses.

All over India, projects to fight trash, pollution, global warming and poverty are attracting kids from the Indian diaspora who want to spend a few years, or maybe longer, pushing for social change in the mother country. For many, that means increasingly better jobs and pretty good pay, not to mention the chance to hang out with an international gang of friends.

But their parents often object.

"I had stiff resistance from every member of my family," says Ranu Sinha, who works with the World Bank. She says her relatives in India and her parents in the United States were asking, "'What are you doing? We didn't put you through very expensive institutions of education for you to go back and make far less than you would be making here in the U.S.'"

Still, they keep coming.

Radio piece produced by Jessica Goldstein.

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