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Mountains and Superheroes

Mountains and Superheroes

Author: Centre for Youth Sustainable Development, Baduku: Livelihoods Learning 

“I’ve realized that at the top of the mountain, there’s another mountain.”

— Andrew Garfield

Yes, we are talking about superheroes and mountains in our own backyard!

It’s the perfect setting for a superhero story; our city being devoured slowly by a giant monster that leaves destruction in its wake. Only, reality smacks you in the face when you realise that the destruction referred to here are the mountains of trash piling up by the day – the urban mise en scene. The monster is really our apathy, and it grows bigger and stronger every day, deliberately fed by the NIMBY (Not In My Backyard” Syndrome of the city’s citizens.

How many of us are willing to gear up and tackle the problem that is so complex and entrenched in the urban consumerist attitude? The attitude that feeds the problem in the physical and the real.

A simple acknowledgment that we are responsible is a first step towards the solution. Some people are aware of this and fight against all odds, their battle spanning several years, to stop our trash from usurping precious lands. They are our heroes, the entrepreneurs in the Waste Supply Chain Management, who understand the important of segregation at source and recycling. They fight to prevent our lands from turning into landfills and to reclaim dignified livelihoods for Raddiwalas and Pourakarmikas.

The effort is an ongoing one. However their stories of perseverance are inspiring and deserve to be documented and shared. Thus emerged the idea of an e-book Reclamations: Stories for Future. Insightful, of sense and sensibilities, and intergenerational equity, the stories are futuristic, but real and grounded.


At SAMVADA, we acknowledge the need to create professions out of social needs. A persisting problem needs a sustainable solution, and we believe that youth from diverse backgrounds will bring in fresh perspectives and much needed vigour. In the coming together of young people and waste entrepreneurs, we reckon an impact that could last long-term.

This gave rise to the Waste Adventurers course in 2017, the first batch comprising of a 3 month intensive course, mainly off-field, and interning with organisations and start-ups working on innovation in Waste Management. The course was curated by the Centre for Youth and Sustainable Development, one of four centres under Baduku Centre for Livelihood Learning.

We strive to make it holistic by including all aspects that are imbued as principles by our centre, be it gender equity, sustainability, inclusion, pluralism and youth rights, making this a long-term project that will adapt and advance.

A feasibility study before the start of the course and an audit of the course at the end of it brought in more rigor and engagement to the second batch of our course in 2018. Several of our students are now working with waste entrepreneurs or have turned entrepreneurs themselves. Some are pursuing higher studies and more importantly they are now inquisitive youngsters asking the right questions with the ability to find their calling.


The compilation of stories into a book, completion of two batches of Waste Adventurers and our strong network of entrepreneurs culminated in an online event celebrating the waste entrepreneurs. This opened up a platform with the backing of BBMP special Commissioner Randeep D – a dynamic official who is in charge and determined to address the SWM problem in the city, Ms. Manvel Alur, with a vibrant portfolio of work cutting politics, community work, activism, academics and more while she heads a company, and Ms. Sobia Rafiq, a young and passionate academic armed with data and facts, paving the way for a better city.

Following our first big event and gaining a lot of learnings from it has made us stronger. At the moment, we are presently working to make our upcoming course Waste Supply Chain Management (set to commence in February 2021) more comprehensive. Yet another mountain, but we shall overcome. “With great power comes great responsibility” (another superhero quote for the taking!) but in order to truly succeed, you need to distribute powers and responsibilities. It’s time for all of us to do our bit!