Monday, October 29, 2007

Additional notes on GAP and Child Labor

As a person from India, I do feel bad about child labor being used there. But then that is not the end of it. If these children would not have been working for GAP, they would have ended up as Child Farmers or Child Workers, or something, but not as school childrens. Does it change the picture a bit? Not at all.

Why. Let's explore:

- The children would have ended up in cotton farms producing cotton, which would have been used to make yarn, and then the cloth for GAP.
- The children would have ended up in other industries such as food which would have contributed indirectly to GAP's products (by bringing food to GAP's workers).

And to tell you that these are not Long Shot Imginations. Anyone who has eaten on a roadside eatery in India would know that the dishes are washed by children, food is delivered to the table by children and so on.

So GAP terminating the contract does not solve the problem. What GAP should have done was:
To continue giving work to same contractor and put up regular inspections at the contractor to ensure that no child labor is used, the workers are treated fairly, the children are being sent to school, fed and provided housing by the contractor (as a punishment). That would have forced the contractor to change the way they think.

One Note:
The view on child labor in India is slightly different. People would prefer to child to work rather then die of hunger. Hunger because of not having money to buy food is not easily understandable to someone who has not faced it. And this is not about skipping a meal. This is about going on for days without food. The wealth India creates, does not percolate to poorest of its people. Cloths produced by child are not neccesarily the worse thing that occurs on the planet.

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