Itinerant brick kiln workers use WhatsApp to stay in touch.
Donkey owner-drivers working in the brick kilns of Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh are paid every Friday, but receive a lump sum payment at the end of the brick-making season. This allows them to buy Indian-made smartphones costing about 5,000 Rupees each.
Most donkey owners are itinerant and may be away from their home villages for many months at a time. The phones allow them to stay in touch, both with family members, and friends working in other kilns. They’re also a status symbol for the young. Using WhatsApp is cheap and may be a spur to literacy for a largely unschooled workforce.
M.A Ambabur Kiln, Ahmedabad. Donkey owners Ranjit, Dayaji and Chaman with their smartphones. Dayaji: ‘I use it for songs and music and to stay in touch using WhatsApp’
NN Kiln, Mehsana District, Gujarat. Donkey owner Vishnu uses his smartphone to get veterinary advice.