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Story Publication logo April 17, 2017

Podcast: The Stigmas of Bondage in India and Beyond

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Women working at a small, temporary brick factory in Malda village. While most of the laborers at this factory were local relatives of the owner, the industry is notorious for exploiting migrant labor. Image by Yardain Amron. India, 2016.
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Each winter hundreds of thousands of Indians migrate north to man the world's second largest brick...

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A group of high school and college students standing with a street vendor on the road outside Bade Seepat. Despite their education, they all said they expected to end up migrating to brick kilns like their parents. Image by Yardain Amron. India, 2017.
A group of high school and college students standing with a street vendor on the road outside Bade Seepat. Despite their education, they all said they expected to end up migrating to brick kilns like their parents. Image by Yardain Amron. India, 2017.

As Yardain Amron traveled around Chhattisgarh investigating the complex roots of migratory brick bondage, for the more well-off, the root was quite simple: the bonded themselves. Caste oppression, landlessness, lack of employment, and other external conditions were non-factors. The problem was an internal mindset: what one wealthy village secretary neatly summed up as "poor thought"; or as his first translator, Bharti, unexpectedly put it, "Their bad habits...If they get some money, they will spend it on drinking. They won't work. Only when they need money will they work." For others though,  it's this very mindset, or stigma of the poor, that is the deeper root of poverty. The implications are enormous and extend around the world. 

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