Apart from coal price fluctuations, kiln profitability depends on managing labour. Singh outlines the modus operandi: "The labour do not work on their own. You have to keep standing there to get the work done. Otherwise you would run a loss.' But such surveillance serves another purpose: proper exploitation.
Running a bhatta requires no expertise. "All you need is a pakka munshi (tough manager) with work experience,' says Singh. "He and the phukaiya (the firer) are hired on a monthly salary. The rest of the labour works on a contract basis.'
Depending upon the work, four types of labourers work the kiln