While I was in India, GAP cracked down heavily on child labour up North. The stories flooding the press were what we already suspected – poor kids lured away from their homes and made to work in shocking conditions. TV pictures show young boys working to the bone in dingy factories. Newspapers tell of how kids would rather work there than return to their hometowns where the alternative is starvation.
An unit owner in Delhi commented on the issue. He said that the fact that the kids return (even after being left back in their villages) is proof enough that THEY WANT TO WORK and that they are not forced to.
GAP was outraged and explanations of contractors sub-contracting their work were no good. Kamal Nath, Union minister for commerce had the gall to say that European NGO’s have a false and motivated agenda and that “we will take steps.”
False and motivated agenda? Wonder what that could be. Could it be that GAP wanted vengeance against their contractor? Or perhaps, as Kamal Nath has suggested, these companies want to show India in a bad light. How will that help their profits, I’m not sure. But as minister for trade and commerce, Kamal Nath possibly knows a thing or two I don’t.
Or does he?