All along the country roads women were doing highway maintenance. They wore beautiful, vivid, spangled saris, covering their heads to keep out the dust, and wielding pick axes and shovels. Bright bangles, earrings, nose rings and ankle bracelets sparkled. Work boots to protect their feet? They were usually barefoot.
Where, we wondered, were the men? Later someone involved in local politics explained that when there was discussion about passing equal pay for equal work regulations, a group of women came to him to complain. “Are you crazy? You will ruin it for us. Right now, the companies hire women to do the work because we cost less. If you make them pay us more, we will not get the jobs. The jobs will go to the men. Please don’t do this.”