I am both idealist and realist. For there is no point in ideals if they cannot be realised.
Jacob (Jake) Barrie Gordon

Jake Gordon

Indian Work: Child labour, wage and baksheesh

19 February 2001

People work for literally pennies a week here. Taxi drivers get paid about $50 a month, and a child who works in a restaurant here gets paid around $1 a week. The child works all day, but also eats and sleeps in the restaurant. It was a little disturbing though to find that he gets bitten by his boss on his arm if he does something wrong. Still, he seems to enjoy his job, but he was saying that he hardly ever sees his family – he’s only about 10 or 11.

Other places are similar to sweat shops. One man who was trying to sell me a marble piece was telling me, boasting, how he has a factory with about 200 young children working in it. Nobody even gives a second thought about this kind of thing here – it’s just how the economy works.

Baksheesh can be one of three things: a tip, money for a beggar, or a bribe. People tip far less than in England here, and at a cheap restaurant you’re not expected to tip anything. 10% is certainly not expected. Beggars are everywhere – crippled or skin and bone, coming up to eveyone and rubbing their bellies and saying they want food and money. Corruption is also rampant – almost everyone can be corrupt. Someone was telling me yesterday that they were on the train and some people paid the ticket inspector a bribe to have a seat – the man was outraged, but it’s perfectly common, and the inspector couldn’t care less.

Regarding my travel plans – I’m about to get a bus which will take me to a train station, and from there it’s a 38 hour journey to Mumbai/Bombay. When there, I’ll find a room for the night, and then get the plane to Singapore the next evening just before midnight (22n d February).


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by Jake Gordon, some rights reserved
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