03 December, 2020

Floors Wet With Sweat

Labour is bought cheap, treated cheap—in India’s garment factories as at Bangladeshi ones

Jitender Gupta
Floors Wet With Sweat

Even as the world remains morbidly fixated on the  tragedy in Rana Plaza on the outskirts of Dhaka—the collapse of the textiles sweatshop three weeks ago  buried 1,127 workers and sparked off a global outrage—it is business as usual at India’s textile hubs. And you don’t have to travel far from the city centre to find that out. All you have to do is visit an urban village in the heart of Delhi.

Mohammed Saddam Hussain and his co-worker Sanjay show up as usual in their one-room, windowless dyeing unit in Delhi’s Shahpur Jat. Their routine: dip yards of cloth into bubbling vats of chemical dye, morning to evening. Wait, there’s a snag. The LPG cylinder that fuels their water-heater has sprung a leak and the cramped room is filling up with flammable gas. Manoj, their employer, plugs the leak somehow and they resume work, immediately lighting the stove, unmindful of any risks.

Many such units, often catering to agents who supply to international ord­ers, litter the crowded streets of Shahpur Jat. Here, incomes of...



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