||Issue No. 192||22 August 2003|
Flexing the Muscles
Interview: The New Deal
Unions: In the Line of Hire
Culture: Too Cool for the Collective?
International: The Domino Effect
Industrial: A Spanner in the Works
National Focus: Gathering of the Tribes
History: The Welcome Nazi Tourist
Bad Boss: Domm, Domm Turn Around
Poetry: Just Move On.
Review: Reality Bites
The Locker Room
A Harsh Lesson
Axe The Max
India On A Dollar A Day
Letters to the Editor
India On A Dollar A Day
As an American, it interested me very much to see your article about the effects on Australians of sending jobs to India. American companies, with the blessing of our government, scramble to do the same. I wonder that you make no mention of the oppressive social systems that make possible the low labor and living costs in the Asian countries that get our jobs.
India has cheaper living costs because many Indian agricultural laborers are held in debt bondage by the threat of physical violence from upper caste brahmins. Many other industries in India keep costs low through the use of child labor and bonded labor.
You may have heard of caste discrimination in India. One of every six Indians belongs to the out-castes, or untouchables, who prefer to be called Dalits. These people serve as bonded agricultural laborers, and in many other industries. By bonded I mean held in debt bondage, unable to leave the farms of upper-caste landlords. They are held in bondage by the threat of physical violence.
Much of India's food and domestic goods get produced by forced labor. These Indian workers do not get sufficient nutrition, health insurance, pensions, and cannot organize. But the lower costs for food and housing mean that
Indian technical workers, again brahmins, can work more cheaply than those in countries with universal rights.
The Indian news site rediff.com carried an interview with a representative of Human Rights Watch.
--------- begin excerpt ------------------
Human Rights Watch is a monitoring and advocacy organisation that investigates human rights abuses in over 70 countries. We are the largest human rights organisation in the US and second largest in the world after Amnesty International.
Dalits are discriminated against, denied access to land, forced to work in slave-like conditions, and routinely abused, even killed, at the hands of the police and of higher-caste groups that enjoy the state's protection.
We've been asking for international assistance to help India with national programmes that are devised to combat caste discrimination. India fears scrutiny, but they also fear an international backlash. No one has suggested
an economic boycott. Not a single sanction. However, both internal and international pressure is still needed to generate the political will in the country to actually enforce its own laws.
------------- end excerpt ---------------
Here's an excerpt of Amnesty International's latest report on India.
Socially and economically marginalized sections of society, such as dalits, adivasis (tribal people), women and religious minorities, including Muslims, continued to be discriminated against by the police, the criminal justice
system and non-state actors, despite legislation aimed at protecting some of these groups. They continued to be particularly vulnerable to torture and ill-treatment, which remained widespread across the country. The ongoing
international campaign against "terrorism", as well as the heightened tensions with Pakistan, contributed to the giving of undue legitimacy to various forms of discrimination against the Muslim minority, including
violence and the denial of access to justice.
Dalit human rights continued to receive international attention, particularly from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which held a thematic discussion on descent-based discrimination in August. However, dalit communities continued to be victims
of violent backlash when asserting their rights, and to have problems accessing the criminal justice system when seeking redress for abuses.
_________ end excerpt ___________
If you want to learn more about how educated, upper-caste Indianprofessionals can afford to work for so little, check the Human Rights Watch website
BROKEN PEOPLE - Caste Violence Against India's Untouchables.
or this book
Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, by Kevin Bayles
These sites tell more about the plight of Dalits:
By the way, in India, upper-castes occupy 90% of the government and academic posts in the social sciences and 94% in the sciences. Anything generated by the Indian government or Indian academics likely carries a strong bias toward protecting the caste system.
|Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue|
© 1999-2002 Workers Online