Splainer

Wednesday, November 18 2020


Dive In

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum 
(Don't let the b****rds grind you down.)

That’s the most famous line from ‘Handmaid’s Tale’. What better quote to mark the birthday of our favourite author Margaret Atwood—whose writing reminds us that resistance is never futile, but instead urgent and necessary.

Big Story

A story of fashion and Indian slave labour

The TLDR: A new BBC News investigation reveals that workers in factories that supply leading British companies—including Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Sainsbury's, and Ralph Lauren—are routinely exploited. But this story is just the tip of a far bigger and more monstrous iceberg.

Basic deets

  • India is the world's second-largest manufacturer and exporter of garments after China. 
  • Garment exports generated Rs 25 billion in revenue in 2019-20.
  • The sector employs at least 12 million people in factories, but millions more work from home.

 

Tell me about this story, first

BBC talked to women workers in unnamed factories in rural South India. And here’s what they revealed:

 

  • "We're made to work continuously, often through the night, sleeping at 3am then waking up by 5am for another full day.”
  • “We don't get toilet breaks, we don't get time to drink water on shift. We barely get time to eat lunch.”
  • "They've increased our workload. We're forced to stay late to finish it—or they yell at us and threaten to fire us. We're scared as we don't want to lose our jobs."
  • "The supervisor always shouts at us… If we make any error in stitching, I'll be taken to the master who is very scary. The master will start swearing and shouting at us. It's a terrifying experience"

 

Why this is a scandal: One, these violate Indian labour laws which state that no employee should work more than 48 hours a week (or 60 hours with overtime). And they cannot be forced to work beyond nine hours in one day. Also: women should only work night shifts if they choose to do so.

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In today’s edition

Headlines That Matter

  • Trump-sized threat to world peace
  • New record at top biz schools
  • Anand Mahindra to restore British pride
  • Time for a ‘fake commute’?
  • Rocky goes to London

 

A list of intriguing things

  • Is this woman in an 1860 painting holding a smart-phone?
  • New Zealand’s Bird of the Year
  • A giant gold dog was making the rounds over Diwali weekend
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