Swati CA

Swati_CA column in The Hindu Business Line

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

On child labour...

What to do when child labour is the means of a family's subsistence?

Sometime back, a colleague of mine had evinced interest in buying a flat in my locality and, therefore, requested me to find out details of any upcoming flats. Guilty that I hadn't given him any inputs, I set out one particularly hot afternoon, in search of construction activity. At more than one site, I was pained to find children employed to do manual tasks such as carrying bricks and sand.
In a posh locality, I noticed that a girl of about 12 years of age, dressed in tatters, was carrying a heavy burden on her head. Impulsively, I felt that I should march up to the contractor and register my protest and threaten to call the cops if the children weren't withdrawn from work. But I paused, because she was weeping. "Why?" I asked. "Mother is not well," she said, amidst sobs. "I have to buy her medicine with my coolly (wages)... " her voice trailed, because she had moved into the compound.
"Oft labouring for destiny make cruel way..." I remembered from Troilus and Cressida. Would it be right to ban child labour and deprive a family of its means of earning, I wondered, even as my bike took me aimlessly through roads, one leading to another. Send in your thoughts by Friday.


We are a nation that's very much into outsourcing. Or, so I thought...

Are bankers protesting in vain against outsourcing?
We are a nation that's very much into outsourcing. Or, so I thought, till I saw a noisy demonstration by bank employees protesting against outsourcing. Banking operations, especially the clearing work, got hit, but on the roads it seemed to be business as usual.
Not far away, were busy executives, both men and women, from the BPOs in the neighbourhood, hurriedly catching a bite at the nearest kiosk, before heading back to work, after the lunch break.
Voices against outsourcing, especially the offshore variety, used to be heard off and on from the developed countries. Not so, the bankers' strike, which was anti-outsourcing, within the country.
"Are they fighting a losing battle?" I wondered, even as I resumed my journey to office.