King Rat (gkr) wrote,
King Rat
gkr

Eco 200: mowing the Taj Mahal

(individual) The acres of grass surrounding the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, are often cut by young women who slice off handfuls with short kitchen blades. Is this a low- or high-cost way to keep a lawn mowed?

It depends on the costs of the alternatives. I assume that the managers have picked the lowest cost to them based on those alternatives. It wouldn't make sense for them to pay anything more than the minimum, all considerations being taken into account. By that, I mean they’ve looked at the cost of labor as well as the cost associated with alternatives means like gasoline or mechanical mowers. There are many costs associated with those alternatives that Westerners wouldn't take into account: the need to clear out paying pilgrims for safety, getting permits (expensive and time consuming in India), losing their own jobs for not using the site to employ more Indians, or more mundane costs like the purchase and fueling of gasoline mowers. A hand laborer can be paid a few rupees per day. Even better, the laborers might be willing to pay to cut the grass for the opportunity to beg from tourists uninhibited. A new mower might cost several thousand rupees, and the gasoline a few hundred more every month.

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