Friday, November 9, 2012

Slavery in India

I was reading through an article in The Economist, Forced labour in India  and thought this would be worth sharing, because most Americans are drowning in debt (after purchasing my gas furnace I'm currently in the shallow end of the pool). While student loans can not be gotten rid of during bankruptcy, a vast majority of debt can be written off. Though the American system is far from perfect, we make take solace that we are not India.
BONDAGE, says Harsh Mander,a prominent Indian social activist, “is endemic. It is an essential factor of labour relations across India.” On October 31st Mr Mander and a host of others launched a new campaign against the practice. The desperately poor, especially indebted villagers, are often forced to toil for no wages and denied a chance to work elsewhere. They are slaves in all but name.

Depending how you define it—workers are usually snared after an employer gives or promises a small loan—victims number possibly in the millions. One activist describes how, last year, his group helped to free 512 bonded workers trapped in a single brick kiln in Tamil Nadu. All were migrants ferried in by a middleman from distant Odisha. They spoke no Tamil and had no notion of their legal rights or of a means of escape. In another case some of the 30 bonded workers found in a rice mill said that they had inherited debts from their parents.
...inherited bets from their parents if that happened in America we would all be working on Mitt Romney's farm (to turn the phrase from Bob Dylan).

Despite a 1975 law banning debt bondage, almost nobody is ever prosecuted. In any case the stipulated fine—2,000 rupees ($37)—is laughable, and hardly anyone is jailed. The campaigners in Delhi introduced Gurwail Singh in order to make their point. A Punjabi, Mr Singh says that five years ago he borrowed 5,000 rupees from a farmer and agreed to work on the fields to pay his debt. But after the employer slapped him with arbitrary “fines”, plus high rates of interest, he was told he owed over 100,000 rupees. He complained and was beaten so badly he ended up in hospital.
Let's see, intergenerational debt and an unregulated marketplace -- sounds like a paradise for the right wing.

I thank my fictitious god that most Republicans from the Deep South have never heard of India.

This is Purgatory.




  1. wow, a debt of 5,000 growing to 100,000. Isn't that similar to what happened to the slaves in america after they were 'freed'? I seem to remember stories like that from high school history class.

    1. It also sounds like the debt that balloons for Americans who make just the minimum monthly payment on their credit cards.

  2. "I thank my fictitious god that most Republicans from the Deep South have never heard of India."

    Shit, they probably couldn't even spell it.



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