Rana Sengupta

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2009


This profile was prepared when Rana Sengupta was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
Rana’s idea is very specific to stone-quarrying, which is categorized as a minor mineral and not governed by the government’s Mines and Minerals Act. Hence, it is open to quarrying by private contractors and individuals. The sector is neglected by the government on the one hand and exploited by private parties on the other. Rana’s work involves organizing informal workers into labor unions and then enabling miners’ collectives to bid for their own contracts; ownership allows them to negotiate competitive prices, share profits, and adhere to the prevailing wage rates. More than 10,000 informal stone quarry workers are now members of labor unions and 900 workers are members of cooperatives.

Moreover, with the resulting reorganization of the supply chain, the miners’ cooperatives are also taking on the supply and export of stones and connecting directly to global markets. This is creating what Rana terms an “ethical means of trading in stones,” that is, ushering in a climate of fair wages, fair trade, and the elimination of child labour and exploitation of informal women workers.

Apart from this, with ownership of mining contracts in the hands of local communities, concern for the environment is heightened and compliance with green standards is gradually becoming the norm; forcing private contractors to do the same. More importantly, with power in the hands of the communities, the issues of illegal mining leading to massive degradation of the environment are also being tackled.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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