Setting foot in Jharkhand was an eye-opener for Sasha Calder, director of sustainability at the cosmetics company Beautycounter. “There’s a lot of jargon or technical ways of thinking about some of these challenges, but being on their ground and seeing the personal impacts on folks’ lives is incredibly powerful and humbling, and really makes you understand the true impact of the work and why it’s important to be doing it.”
Among her first impressions: “We were traveling down the streets, which are glittering with mica, and seeing really young kids walking, carrying mica home on their heads. And realizing and how different of a world it felt compared to how growing up in California was for me.”
Most of all, it was the extreme poverty. Jharkhand has made great strides in bringing down the number of poor, reducing the incidence of poverty from 75 percent to 46 percent in the 10 years ending in 2016, but the state has lagged behind other Indian states in reducing poverty, according to the World Bank. It notes: “Poverty is among the highest in the country today, particularly in the state’s southern and eastern districts,” which includes the mica belt.