Bonded Labor: Tackling the System of Slavery in South Asia

Overview

Siddharth Kara's Sex Trafficking has become a critical resource for its revelations into an unconscionable business, and its detailed analysis of the trade's immense economic benefits and human cost. This volume is Kara's second, explosive study of slavery, this time focusing on the deeply entrenched and wholly unjust system of bonded labor.

Drawing on eleven years of research in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, Kara delves into an ancient and ever-evolving mode of ...

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Bonded Labor: Tackling the System of Slavery in South Asia

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Overview

Siddharth Kara's Sex Trafficking has become a critical resource for its revelations into an unconscionable business, and its detailed analysis of the trade's immense economic benefits and human cost. This volume is Kara's second, explosive study of slavery, this time focusing on the deeply entrenched and wholly unjust system of bonded labor.

Drawing on eleven years of research in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, Kara delves into an ancient and ever-evolving mode of slavery that ensnares roughly six out of every ten slaves in the world and generates profits that exceeded $17.6 billion in 2011. In addition to providing a thorough economic, historical, and legal overview of bonded labor, Kara travels to the far reaches of South Asia, from cyclone-wracked southwestern Bangladesh to the Thar desert on the India-Pakistan border, to uncover the brutish realities of such industries as hand-woven-carpet making, tea and rice farming, construction, brick manufacture, and frozen-shrimp production. He describes the violent enslavement of millions of impoverished men, women, and children who toil in the production of numerous products at minimal cost to the global market. He also follows supply chains directly to Western consumers, vividly connecting regional bonded labor practices to the appetites of the world. Kara's pioneering analysis encompasses human trafficking, child labor, and global security, and he concludes with specific initiatives to eliminate the system of bonded labor from South Asia once and for all.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Randy Newcomb

Kara's exploration is perhaps the most ambitious and reasoned treatment of this form of slavery in the modern era. By combining academic rigor and discipline alongside the narratives and voices of slaves, Kara offers a definitive analysis of the complexity of bonded labor as well as a reinvigoration of the movement to end this form of slavery globally. A must-read for all who want to better understand the trajectory of the global economy and its effect on labor.

Anne Archer

Kara's eye-opening view of bonded labor jolts the reader into acute awareness of one of the most insidious forms of modern-day slavery, inciting us to act to end this crime against humanity.

Ruchira Gupta

This book is a tool for a slave-free future. Incisive, relevant, and composite, it offers the latest data on bonded labor in South Asia, argues brilliantly that choice is irrelevant to bondage, and has new 'how-to' guides for activism.

Jacqueline Bhabha

A beautifully lucid, compelling mixture of history, investigative journalism, personal testimony, and trenchant socioeconomic criticism.

Beate Andrees

An eloquent description of human misery and courage. The unique contribution of Kara's book is his in-depth economic analysis of industries where high profits are made on the expense of millions of poor and vulnerable people.

Nina Smith

Bonded Labor blends an historical account of the origins of slavery with meticulous research and first-hand testimonies from victims. The book enables the reader to fully grasp the extent of the problem and should move us all to act.

Erica Stone

Beyond sobering, disturbing, yet so well and humanly written. The solutions proposed are the clearest in relegating this modern-day slavery, finally, to history.

Asia Literary Review - Kathleen Hwang

This book is a valuable resource for policy makers, human-rights activists, legal experts and academics, as well as for businesses with supply chains in developing countries. It deserves attention, and should inspire the eradication of the insidious crime of enslavement.

Publishers Weekly
Kara (Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery) turns his attention to bonded labor, “a type of slavery in which the servitude commences with an agreement whereby credit is provided in exchange for pledged labor.” Based on a decade of research and travel in the epicenter of the practice (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal), Kara’s book offers a scholarly account of the practice that delineates its cultural and legal history. He is sensitive to nuances between regions and occupations; intimate and affective in individual conversations with victims, perpetrators, and defenders; and usefully explicit about the actions individuals, groups, and governments can take to end the practice. Obstacles to completing this project were abundant, ranging from secrecy at Bangladeshi processing plants to impedance by Pakistani officials. As Kara observes, “Virtually everyone’s life, everywhere in the world, is touched by bonded labor in South Asia,” which for American consumers may make frozen shrimp less sweet, tea less comforting, and hand-woven carpets less lovely. Passionate (“Pray there is a special place in hell for scoundrels such as these”), yet data-driven and absent of sensationalism, Kara’s spotlight on debt bondage, “at once the most ancient and most contemporary face of human servitude,” warrants profound attention. Agent: Susan Cohen, Writers House. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231158497
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 5/6/2014
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,469,162
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Siddharth Kara is Director of the Carr Center Program on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and Fellow on Forced Labor at the Harvard School of Public Health. Kara speaks and consults extensively on contemporary slavery worldwide and advises several governments on antitrafficking policy and law. His first book, Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery, received Yale University's prestigious Frederick Douglass Book Prize.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

List of Tables and FiguresPrefaceAcknowledgments1. Bonded Labor: An Overview2. Agriculture: Kamaiya and Hari3. Bricks and Bidis4. Shrimp and Tea5. Construction and Stonebreaking6. Carpets and Other Sectors7. Bonded Labor and the Law8. Tackling Bonded LaborAppendix A: Global Slavery MetricsAppendix B: Select Bonded Labor EconomicsAppendix C: Select Bonded Labor Supply ChainsAppendix D: Bonded Labor as Defined by India's Bonded Labour System (Abolition) ActAppendix E: Bonded Labor Law and Cases: PakistanAppendix F: Select Economic and Human Development StatisticsNotesWorks CitedIndex

Columbia University Press

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