What we boycott

This post has to begin with a story to set the context and since the story is not original, it needs to refer to the source – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-17121978

BBC covered story about how Apple manufacturing unit in China works. They show that they are interested in the people who build the gadget. They show how teenages who are very poor work at the factory. They live with 7 other people in a small dorm. They show suicide nets around the building. They tell that 18 workers have jumped the building in past few years and that apple has employed councilors to prevent the suicides. Who is to blame for this? Apple? Employers at Foxconn (not sure if they are part of apple, they are referred to differently). The interviewers ask what the most common complaint is – low pay. They show that the workers cannot even buy the product they build.

This story was posted by my collegue J on our group and the responses were – depressing. J and I had a conversation today and he asked if I still wanted to use my iPad after seeing this story. My response was that I need to know more details and context of work environment. The story mentions that the suicide rate at Foxconn is lesser than the average suicide rate in factories in China.

Why should I not stop using my iPad if Apple is such an evil, torturing its employees? First off I don’t think my not using iPad will make much of a difference to Apple market value or sale. J spoke about ideals and said he doesn’t wear Nike because it is a result of child labor.

Everyone has their own list of things they stand against. Its sometimes defined by their individual experiences and what they have seen around them. Like I am anti child labor but I don’t believe abolishing it completely is the best solution. If we abolish child labor in a country like India, several houses will go without food and die of hunger. There are bad child labor like children working in tobacco factory having to lick tobacco leaf to manufacture beedi (indian version of cigrette without filter). And there is child labor like children working in a garage with parents and can learn a vocation as they grow up.

How do we define whats good and whats bad?

Monarchy is good for some countries like a friend from Brunei told me that they have a nice and caring King and they don’t really care about democracy. India despite a democratic country does not seem to have a single political party that people are happy with.

J asked me that I’m okay if the suicide rate at Apple is less than the average. No I’m not okay with it but the problem is not the Apple manufacturing unit, its more than that. I would rather work at the root of the problem than show my anger (or whatever emotion it may be) by not using Apple products. And when it comes to doing something, yes I want to do something about everything but I know its not humanly possible. I will do what I can, and what I cannot I refuse to cry over it. Yes its depressing to see how wrong certain things in the world are but its like my friend P used to say – If children in one part of the world do not have food, doesn’t mean I will stuff myself only not to waste food and fall sick.

If people are as worried as they are about the state of the world, then well its simple, pick a cause and do something about it. Many people just end up sending money when there is flood or tsunami. Some people travel and give away packets of food and clothing etc. Go all out to not just collect clothing. Take the pain to separate clothes by age, sizes etc, pack them and help send them over. If you feel its wrong for people in Kashmir to go through what they are, then go and find out a way to help them. Lighting candle is not really doing anything for them except media getting a story out of it. Yes lighting candle serves purpose sometimes, just know when it does and when its just a face.

And find out what people really need. Afghani women don’t worry about HIV and condoms as much as staying alive and having food and shelter.

J wasn’t completely able to understand why I wasn’t as affected after watching the video. That’s because I’ve grown up in a country where IT professionals with little experience are saving 3lacs a year but a farmer is committing suicide because he cannot pay the same debt incurred over years. Is there an IT professional willing to give away a years saving to save life of a farmer? Are 20 IT professionals willing to give their month saving to pool in and save life of a farmer? The answer is they pay taxes so its government’s responsibility to take care of everything else.

The one thing I have learnt over the past few years of my life is that nothing is as it meets the eye (yes there are exceptions).

No I’m not heartless, I refuse to show emotions where I don’t know the details of situation or don’t have much influence over.


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