Maid’s Cries Cast Light on Child Labor in India

A 13-year-old girl who worked as a maid reportedly led a life akin to slavery, in a symptom of India’s growing middle class and its demand for domestic workers, jobs often filled by children.

Comments: 240

  1. The article reports that "the courts rarely issued harsh judgments in cases involving the rights of domestic help." Might that be because some judges also have domestic laborers working in their homes?

  2. Yes, that was my first question, Fracaso Rotundo (buen nombre, hombre.)

    Maybe more than "some" judges have slave-labor children in their houses. And lawyers and other professional types who should be working on human rights. And so...this whole flare-up will soon fizzle out.

  3. It is hard to push any case, through the Indian court system fast enough and the details get obfuscated as they slowly make their way through the corrupt, inept Indian judiciary which is the problem.

    It is not the norm to have slave-labor children work as domestic help as I have not seen any, people do have to hide such things if they do.

  4. The people who abuse domestic servants tend to be from the high castes and the domestic servants themselves tend to be from the lowest castes (the census of India carried out by its British governors in 1911 and 1921 counted 4000 endogamous castes). The judges tend to be from the high castes and they are likely to favor the parties who belong to a similar caste.

    The caste system is enshrined in the Hindu religion in practice and in its sacred documents in ways too numerous to be listed here. When Mark Twain visited India for some months in the 19th century, he remarked that the Hindus venerate all manner of creatures (the Hindus worship the monkey and elephant for example) except the human.

    Very little about India can be understood without a deep knowledge of the caste system. If you want to understand why Mohan Das Gandhi undertook a fast in 1932 and emotionally blackmailed Dr. Ambdekar as well as the British and thus prevented the lowest castes from acquiring rights, you need to understand the role of caste in Hindu India. Why are the rich Indians so emotionally numb to the plights of the slum dwellers who surround their mansions? The rich are from the high castes, while the slum dwellers are from the lowest.

    The best place to begin understanding the Hindu caste system is the book "Hindu manners, customs, and ceremonies" by Abbe Dubois who spent nearly thirty years in India from approximately 1790 to 1830.

  5. Next time I'm on the phone with tech support I will ask if their American corporate employer is paying them enough to feed their child slave.

  6. While I fully agree that India has a (very) long way to go to achieve its societal goals, I find your generalization galling. There are many of us who either have no household help or treat them ethically.

    Who picks your vegetables and fruits, Todd? (http://ciw-online.org/) Indentured labor is alive and well in the US today -- it just takes a different form. Clean your own house first.

  7. Absolutely right. American business, through outsourcing, has put itself in the position of the guy playing the piano in the parlor downstairs without concerning himself with what's going on with the girls in the upstairs rooms.

  8. Kartik, but if we Americans find it, we will eradicate it. You Indians have no plan to do so. It is your house which will fall on itself.

  9. The widespread practice of what is essentially child slavery provides a sobering insight into the mores of modern Indian society and bodes poorly for this "emerging nation.". As Indians become more affluent and wield more economic power, it is clear that a simulltaneous evolution to a more egalitarian Indian society is not a foregone conclusion. Until all vestiges of the horrible castre system are destroyed and modern eduucated Indians insist upon goverment-mandated ,humane employment statutes, India's future as ademocratic nation cannot be secure.

  10. an added sobering insight - if you also look at the disparity in wealth in other 'emerging' nations -- and the growing disparity of wealth in the US - it seems possible that 'we' are headed in their direction - using a large and desperate economic underclass to do all of the scut work of life - rather than the opposite - and to remain virtually invisible within the classes which control economic and political power.

  11. It's worth noting, though, that the United States moved rapidly from a society that practiced slavery (until the 1860's) and widespread child labor (until the first half of the 20th century) to an advanced and prosperous one.

    If we could do that in a few generations, so can India. There as here, conservatives will fight tooth and nail. But they always lose in the end.

  12. Of course we call India a 'democracy'. It is a measure of our collective insanity.

  13. How do you define "democracy"?

  14. Apex,
    You're living in one. I live in an oligarchy.

  15. While visiting India several years ago, I asked a rich relative what had she done to deserve a servant. The question was so awkward that the educated, sophisticated lady, the wife of a high government official was struck silent.
    Most Indians, rich and middle class or barely making it think, they deserve servants. Just because they can afford to pay a pittance! It is the attitude of entitlement of a different kind.

  16. I just don't know how someone can do this to another person, especially a child. I can even maybe see hiring laborers, but why not feed them? Why not give them a small amount of pay? It's just bizarre to me how people can fail to see the humanity in others.

  17. It`s perhaps cheaper to replace them when malnutrition makes them unable to do the job.

  18. See my comment above: it is not uncommon (in the US, India or anyplace) to find that very wealthy and privileged people -- who could afford ANYTHING -- turn out to be "cheapskates".....bad tippers, low-paying employers, trying to skin anything they can off the less fortunate.

    One dollar (or rupee) more in their pocket, rather than yours. That's how they think! I can very easily imagine these two educated, smart, wealthy PHYSICIANS thinking "why if we give that greedy 13 year old girl THREE chapatis a day, where will it end? why that's another 3 rupees or so! and we could be spending that rupee ON OURSELVES!"

    That is how the minds of the wealthy work. All you need to do is hand them a subservient and very poor population to exploit, and they will exploit them.

  19. the problem with measuring 'success' of an individual, a family , a nation , simply by measuring his/her job, social position or gdp tate of growth (6%-INDIA); fails, to factor-in a key measure of 'well being status'-i.e., 'QUALITY OF LIFE".
    extreme division-filthy rich(getting there upwardly mobile torrent in humongous # of people) & starving children-concurrantly is a pathetic juxtaposition of today's INDIA!
    You couple this fundamentally flawed patternof growth-this ugly underbelly of otherwise a spectacular progress; is not only meaningless, it is a rapid loss of the very cultural heritage of hitherto INDIA-the "SPIRITUAL SPIRIT" !
    Add, pollutionwater, air, soil to this to this frenzied decline of tradition which put INDIA on the world map-the GANDHISM-so to speak; & you have a putrid dump which detrimental to the national health in the long run.
    I for 1 would rather see a healthy boy drink freash sparkling water from the pure waters of GANGA & run over yo his thtched roof hut for a hot nuty=ritious meal his mom made rather than a double digit GDP rate!

  20. India's rich and the middle class hire millions of children as servants, who often work in slave like conditions, face routine abuse and no future that includes an education and a better quality of life when they become adults. Tradition and history have perpetuated this practice and more so now as poverty increased and population exploded. If Indians are serious about living up to their great civilization, they must address this social scourge and implement tough laws and enforcement to include minimum wages, mandatory education and better treatment of servants. India has a very dynamic civil society. They must lead a campaign using celebrities and prominent citizens educating the people about basic human rights and morals. It is indeed sad that an educated professional couple (doctors) chose to treat a young girl this way. How would they feel if their daughter was kidnapped, sold and abused in another household? Of all the people in the world, Indians should know about the laws of Karma (cause and effect of our actions). It is also ironic that when Indians live abroad, they express indignation and outrage at any hint of discrimination against them (rightly so) yet, within their own culture, they are capable of utter savagery towards their own people (based on caste, skin color, social status, religion etc.). I hope this incident will awaken Indians across all walks of life and they begin some self-analysis of their individual and social responsibilities.

  21. Minimum wage hurt unskilled laborers.

    Mandatory indoctrination hurts everyone.

    Legitimizing servants hurts everyone.

  22. What is especially sad here, is that two highly educated and paid PHYSICIANS could very easily pay decent wages to an adult worker -- one who is not enslaved and who could walk away if they were not satisfied with the working conditions.

    So why do they do it? Because they are, clearly, cheapskates despite their wealth! (I think many of us have met at some time, very wealthy people who were stingy.) They want to keep as much of their wealth as possible, so that 13 year old "maid" had better not eat 3 chapatis! I mean, that's like another THREE RUPEES down the drain! and which could otherwise line the pockets of two wealthy physicians!

  23. Concerned-

    Bingo, what makes it even more grossly disturbing isn't the greed, it is the attitude towards a fellow human being that is startling here. I would blame it on Indian religion, but both Hindu and Muslim teachings are about charity towards the poor and understanding they are blessed, too.

    More likely, this is the crappy caste system that non western civ professors used to go out of their way to defend. Working around a lot of people from India, from everything I can tell those who get educated and move up the economic ladder are almost entirely from the old upper level castes, they were the ones who benefitted from India's huge civil service, and today benefit from having their kids be able to get an education and get a decent paying job (often with non Indian companies). It is a rigid class system that though illegal under the law, still permeates the culture, and along with that is the attitude of superiority that allows people to do this. Someone else pointed out a case like that here in the US, where an Indian couple basically kept a foreign domestic worker in slavery here on Long Island, and the local India community was up in arms that the couple was tried and sent to jail for what they did, arguing that the couple was upstanding and that what they did was consistent with "Indian Culture".......pathetic.

  24. Your write: The girl’s employers, identified by the police as Dr. Sanjay Verma and Dr. Sumita Verma.

    Will they be allowed to visit the US for their shopping tours?

    Will they be permitted to come to Europe for entertainment?

    Does anyone in a position of power really care other than that they were caught?

    How nice they are doctors who took the Hypocritic Oath.

  25. Just out of curiosity Simon sez, do doctors in the US, having taken the Hypocratic Oath, live exemplary lives in the US? Am I imagining the medicare frauds, the malpractice suits, the escalating cost of medicine?

  26. Are you making a humorous statement -- HypoCRITIC Oath? Or did you mean "HIPPOCRATIC Oath"? Like the one stated by Hippocrates?

    However you mean it, good point. It is very likely that one or both of these physicians were trained in the US -- where their ability to pay "full freight tuition" (they are very likely from wealthy families) pushed some native-born American student out of consideration for a desirable slot in medical school. Go to any medical school, any teaching hospital today and tell me how what percentage of the students are Southeast Asian Indian. (Hint: it's a lot.)

  27. Kalidan-

    Doctors in the US have done and will do bad things, some are murderers, some beat their wives, etc......

    The difference is if a doctor gets caught doing horrible things like this their lives would be ruined, they would lose their medical licenses more then likely and would suffer jail time...whereas I would be willing to bet a lot of money that they end up with a slap on the wrist, maybe paying a couple of rupees in fines, maybe some compensation to the kids families, and will go right on practicing medicine and keeping their lifestyle. The disconnect between the Hippocratic oath, about not doing harm, flies in the face of what the doctor is accused of, and it is why the reaction would be so harsh.

  28. This is hardly new news. This has been going on in India, and here, where people from India bring their slave labor with them usually smuggled in, for a very long time.

    The most shocking aspect of it, besides the outright slavery, is how cruel they always are to the slaves. The Times itself ran a story long ago about an Indian couple who were charged with slavery and their insane defense was it was none of our business and they treated their slave better than in India.

    Slave labor of children has been a staple of middle class and upper class India for centuries. Killing them has also been without punishment. Parents sell their girls as they are considered worthless. As in China, India is suffering an acute shortage of women, girls are aborted, murdered upon birth or treated like dirt if they are allowed to live. In India when a young woman is married off the family is expected to provide a large dowry to the Groom and his family

    Even though India has "officially" outlawed dowry's nothing has changed. Just like slavery has been outlawed, there is no punishment and thus no incentive to stop the buying and selling of children for slavery or sex. The only way this will change is harsh and severe public punishment.

    International public condemnation would be helpful as well but because we use so much of that slave labor ourselves in India, corporations will fight tooth and nail to keep that from happening for fear of their bottom line being affected.

  29. So economic growth rates are not the only measure of the health of an economy? Along with GDP we might also have a GDC, or Gross Domestic Compassion (Civilization?) scale that measures things like independent courts and free press...things like health care availability and nutritional standards... clean water access and fair wages.

    A comparison of the two measures might be interesting, even as applied to the US and some of the "socialist" countries of Europe, like Germany (!). Our own economic difficulties are leading to a mass cave-in of elected officials, including Democrats, but led by Republicans, allowing de-regulation efforts in the name of "job-creation." I wonder if jobs like the one here are next on the menu.

  30. If the average consumer/citizen/voter(as opposed to corporations) in the west are so wonderful, why don`t they boycott the corporations, or vote against giving the corporations monopolies/licenses etc?

  31. The reality is actually far worse than what you are describing. We Indians have developed a culture where it is natural to prey on each other; we have no notion of how wrong that is. Our religion (Hinduism) has not a word to say about how to treat each other. Its practice is entirely about bribing one's way into heaven, while living like beasts down here.

    I am not sure whether you are familiar with the Jallianwalla baug incident, where a British general (Dwyer) ordered Indian troops to shoot and massacre unarmed Indians. Not one of the Indian troops turned his rifle and shot Dwyer for this beastly, inhuman order. They massacred their brothers and sisters exactly as ordered. Why Indian soldiers wore a British uniform, why not one of them shot down this British Nazi, is never questioned in India.

    Note: they did not lock up their brethren and leave on vacation for a week, they shot them.

    The rot is deep. Rudyard Kipling - who saw no difference between an Indian child and animals - actually feted the unrepentant General Dwyer because he was chastised by the British establishment. Yet, Indian children are forced to read this imperialist's pap (Jungle Book) in schools - even as the more sophisticated Indians affected a British accent and lifestyles (at least they did in the 1960s and 1970s when I lived there).

    India cannot be taken as a serious power, never emerge from its colonial roots, unless we confront this cultural rot head on.

  32. And the American worker is supposed to compete with countries that exploit children this way?

    Globalization allows countries that do not have high standards of worker and environmental protection to steal jobs from and drive down wages in countries that do.

    Even if we could determine which products are made by child and slave labor and bar their importation, child and slave labor would still contribute indirectly to their production.

    It's time for the industrialized countries to restore tariffs on goods from these nations until and unless they end these abuses.

  33. What is the correct global "wage", i.e. what`s an OK wage on a global scale, where everyone are free to move/apply for a job anywhere they choose?

    So no trade is better, or no income for the poor in poor countries?

  34. So Josh, your concern is for the children being exploited, or for the western capitalists who must complete with those who employ slave labor?

    Not to worry---the republicans are working hard to create our own desperate underclass. If they are successful in November, we will be well on our way to righting those wrongs committed against our 1%

  35. Apex, I didn't say "no" trade. I merely believe in a level playing field. We as a society have chosen to afford our workers certain protections, and not only has that been beneficial to the welfare of our workers, it has been beneficial to our society. Consider, for example, that a child laborer can't attend school, and so will be an unskilled worker for the rest of his life, with lower economic output. By in effect opening our borders to countries that do not afford such protections, we undermine ourselves, because such protections add to the cost of labor and make our factories uncompetitive. So what would you have us do, remove those protections, and return to an era when workers could literally be worked to death and the masses were uneducated and poor?

  36. We don't need laws against slavery. Won't capitalism self-regulate? Oh, wait...

  37. How do you define capitalism? How is a capitalist society organised? How are good allocated?

  38. Capitalistic self regulation. Wasn't that the Greenspan Rule?

  39. Sick and sad beyond measure.

  40. there is something seriously wrong and inhuman about Indians' conventional wisdom where the chattering classes moralize everyday while starving servants.

    hypocrisy has gone so deep that it is no longer hypocrisy. it is just life as usual.

  41. So deep hypocrisy is hypocrisy, not no longer hypocrisy. I recommend your comment.

  42. This story got me thinking, and not just about child labor.

    I read this after watching the film "Mona Lisa's Smile" which concerns the changing role of women in the 50s. In the film, an art history teacher encourages her female students to consider the idea that they might become more than just housewives when the graduate -- that they might go on to have their own careers. It was a radical notion for many women at that time.

    We hold up the notion of both spouses being able to work outside the home as a liberal ideal. But I do think it is worth considering how hard it is to balance a busy working life with the time it takes to raise a family and do household chores. To achieve the ideal of a two-career household often requires sacrifices, like fewer home-cooked meals.

    In the U.S., many two-earner households feel they need help, whether it be daycare, a nanny, a cleaning service, a live-in domestic, or just a meal prepared by teenage workers at a fast-food restaurant. Nobody grows up dreaming that they will have to do any of these jobs, though it is honest work that may in fact have its own rewards.

    So the ideal of a two-earner household may lose a little of its shine when you consider the sacrifices it requires, and all the help that may be needed to make it possible. These days very few people dream of growing up to become a housewife or a house-husband, but we should not look down on those who take on these roles. It's honest work with its own rewards.

  43. We used to have extended families living together, grown cousins and siblings living within traveling distance, parents nearby or in the same house, etc. The fission of the extended family into the 'nuclear' family of two parents and kids who have no time to help around the house has created the domestic help market, where the affluent basically pay other people to live their lives for them. If we could settle for a bit less money and walk our own dogs, wash our own clothes, change our own kids' diapers, and dig our own flower beds, we might be healthier and happier.

  44. Thank you, Dan, for that honest & insightful comment. This is the ugly "flip side" of feminism that few want to talk about. I consider myself a feminist. But I remember the "debates" over feminism when I was a teenager in the early 70s -- one of which I remember most clearly was on the old Phil Donahue show (when he was still broadcasting out of Dayton, Ohio, the real heartland of America).

    There were some high profile feminist guests --- one might have even been Gloria Steinhem, I'm not sure -- and an audience member got to speak, angrily, asking "if all women have careers, who will be left to stay home and do the scut work -- the child care, the cleaning and cooking?" and the high profile feminist snarkily responded "well, it will be the PEOPLE WITH THE SCUT INTELLECTS". In other words, there would be a lower class, who would naturally get "stuck" with all the unpleasant jobs.

    This is indeed what has happened -- to such a degree, that we must now IMPORT "scut workers" illegally from other countries. And of course, pay them no benefits and less than minimum wages....because a lot of the women who now work full-time, do not earn premium wages. Paying a worker "fair wages" out of your moderate salary means you lose many of the benefit of working at all.

    Damn that pesky math! so much better not to think about it, and do what is "convenient", even if it exploits. Wealthy Indians are doing the EXACT same thing, only to underage girls.

    Dan is 100% correct.

  45. I agree, but what you neglect to mention is that the basic middle class things that most Americans desire are no longer possible on one income. It's not that we want more things now. There was just as much consumerism in the 1950s and 1960s among the middle class as there is now.

    But wages have not kept pace with inflation and so now, the things we want -- I'm talking about dental care, and saving for college, and a vacation once a year and perhaps a pet, a car, good food and good schools and yes, maybe cable TV and a home computer -- middle class things -- cannot be had on one income in most urban areas.

    These days, only the upper middle class, the wealthy, and the very poor can afford to stay home with their children. It is not that most women want careers. Many women would like to stay home with their children when they are young. It's that we can no longer have what we grew up with unless both people work.

    That is a simple economic reality -- ask any economist. It has nothing to do with feminism.

  46. world's largest democracy - as one is reminded incessantly by indians...

    i used to live in delhi and this aspect of the culture i find sickening. and not because i don't understand the culture - i speak pretty fluent hindustan. such an incredible and harsh disregard for other human beings!

  47. I agree, but a population over one billion, and deeply ingrained generational poverty -- a really vast class divide, so great that all OUR own talk about "the 1% seem ridiculous in contrast -- means that the wealthy of India have disproportionate power to get whatever they want.

    Frankly, the impulse to do this is not so unusual throughout history, or in human nature. If we CAN enslave people, and force them to do our unpleasant work -- cleaning, cooking, child care, farm labor etc. -- then WE WILL.

    Most of us do not have servants (or slaves), because we CAN'T. Not because we find it morally reprehensible.

    Look at how many affluent white New Yorkers employ illegal aliens as nannies! While not slaves, and not as egregious exploitation, an illegal immigrant, terrified of being turned into the INS, is willing to work for sub-minimum wages, long hours and no benefits. This is entirely commonplace in the more affluent parts of urban USA.

  48. Hello Remi,
    i do believe Indians at a certain level do show an incredible disregard to other human beings. And, i hope the largest democracy does someth9ing to bolster the plight of the poor and bridges the great social class divide.

    But, nonetheless it greatly trouble me when you say you do understand the culture and claim you can speak fluent hindustan which in first place is not a language. The language is "Hindi". And that makes me wonder if you can actually speak the native tongue and more importantly if you understand the culture. Please do not support your arguments on false claims.

    Culturally, Indians are not brought up to be sweet talkers. That i believe is one very important aspect which you do not take into account when it comes to stating your comments above.

  49. Just look at our own democracy. We had slavery until the 1860's and child labor until the early 20th century. We're now the world's richest nation, and yet the Republicans are fighting tooth and nail to block universal health care.

    Democracy is no guarantee of decency. But it is a start -- whatever its flaws, democratic nations do proceed on a path of improvement over time. I have no doubt that India will change as we did, as its prosperity increases.

  50. "Societal attitudes toward servants are often shaped by ingrained mores about caste and class. Many servants, especially children, come from poor families among the lower Hindu castes or tribal groups, often from poor states..."

    MESSAGE: if you have the bad luck of being born into the lower ranks of society, your opportunities for success are limited while the inverse is true for those lucky enough to be born into the higher ranks. And this formula for success is true in most societies including our own. Just ask Mitt Romney or the guy who [used to] mow his lawn in Belmont, MA.

  51. At issue here is not domestic labor - it is (a) exploitation of children (who should not be working while they should be in school) and (b) lack of sufficient safeguards to ensure that domestic workers are paid well and more importantly, treated well. The Indian middle class relies on domestic workers to help them manage their lives, and the domestic worker relies on the income derived from this job. In the best cases I have seen in India, the employers help out in many ways while deriving the benefit from the domestic labor performed - it is a social contract that can be made to work. But there are many many instances of the kind reported above, and worse, a pervasive paternalistic and superior attitude towards domestic staff that can only change with a societal change - it is clear that the government and the courts need to do something about this issue to start the ball rolling.

  52. This isn't about "domestic labor" at all. It's about child slavery. If you can compel a minor child to be your maid, half-starving her -- then you won't shrink from child prostitution or sex slavery. Just read some of of the columns here on sex slavery; it's epidemic.

  53. We all see young children being ill treated or employed but how many of us take action-we are too busy with our lives to get embroiled with the police or the right people who can help the children-so we need to stop writing just comments and act please... when you see a child being made a slave you have the right to go and question and report.

  54. All of us with a conscience would act - as did the neighbors in this case. Don't paint the rest of the world with the "I'm too busy" brush. You don't get to take the monkey off your back that easily. That's your guilty conscience speaking, methinks.

  55. There is an attempt here to simply the problem. Moral outrage cannot substitute for a nuanced understanding of issues. There are some cases of gross human rights abuses with domestic help, but that is far from being the norm. Also, don't confuse child trafficking with domestic work.

    1. In an (unskilled) labour abundant country, for many people, a job as a domestic help is the best that they can find - so lets not frown on the job and pretend that is is somehow illegitimate. The idea is to bring some amount of regulation and transparency and eliminate child labor. (Of course, in a low income developing country with a famously incompetent government, this is easier said than done). But child labour has declined significantly in the last decade according to the best available estimates, because in a fast growing economy, the parents increasingly find that it pays to send their children to school rather than work in a sweatshop or as a maid. (so it is not primarily government action that will end child labour, but other developments in the society/economy).

    2. Indian society being as hierarchial as it is, (and many Indians still living in a sort of feudal social world), the relationship with the domestic help is not based on equality/respect. But the bargaining power is today shifting from one side to the other (at least in large cities) and wages are rising quite significantly. Again, economics is responsible for these changes, and not government regulation alone.

  56. It's not just about economics, shifting or otherwise. In other countries with equally poor populations, better off employers don't mistreat household servants nearly to the same degree they do in India. And whenever a story pops up in the US about foreign nationals abusing their household staff, almost always, sadly, it involves well-to-do Indians and their imported staff.

  57. Mitra, you need a little simplification in your own life and comments. Inhumanity, cruelty, slavery, are not complicated concepts.

  58. @Eliot Podwill

    Perhaps you are right. On the other hand, this could reflect your subjective biases. As long as there is no hard evidence, it is all talking in the air. Maybe you remembered only those instances of abuse which involved Indians- this is apparently quite frequent - ask neuroscience experts - we always want to confirm our opinions!

  59. '...they also wrongly held “an implicit belief in possessing an intrinsic superiority, an assumed right to lord it over someone lesser.”'

    This article speaks to how psychology manifests as reality. Indians often see their birth into a certain socioeconomic class, certain religions and as males as a birthright to superiority and they have little incentive for self-reflection.

  60. You think this psychology is limited to India and Indians?

  61. Coming to your neighborhood soon. Once the middle class in this country is wiped out by the money grubbing freaks, the have nots will be the "proles" puting their children to work.

  62. Another point - it is silly to trust the Indian media on such issues - anybody who follows the Indian media knows they are always looking for sensational news and scandals and television channels will compete to invent corruption scandals (or any other scandal) even if none exists. That doesn't mean that the kind of abuses described in this case doesn't take place (they do) - but I wouldn't necessarily buy the Indian media's version of events without further corroboration (for example, judicial proceedings). I wouldn't be surprised if many of the allegations against the couple were found to be false. In any case, it is wrong to convict people based on reports in Indian television channels!

    The biggest problem in this article is it conflates the problems of trafficking or child slavery (sexual or otherwise) with domestic help. Most domestic help are not beaten or abused by their employers (although you get treated rather shabbily and it is a crap job), but it could also be an opening for someone who is migrating from a poor rural area, a stepping stone to better jobs. Also, most parents whose kids (only above 15 is legal) work as domestic help have placed their kids in these positions voluntarily and the kids visit their parents (or are visited by them) every year (if not more frequently) - so it is not really comparable to slavery or bonded labour - it is just a very bad job with little respect/dignity. (sadly there are many such jobs in India or other poor countries).

  63. People have been selling their children into slavery for many thousands of years, including the sex trade. I think the poster in their rush to defend the practice leaves out something fundamental and that child labor like this is fundamentally akin to slavery, the child has effectively been sold as a piece of property with no rights in the matter.

    I understand the poverty, it is no different then what went on in this country in the industrial revolution, when kids worked in the mines or mills to try and help support their families, but that doesn't make it any better. And to argue "well, it may be the road to a better job", what history proves is that is a justification that isn't born out in fact. People used similar justifications for slavery in the US (and I have heard that used in some quarters, from revisionist types trying to soften the harshness of what slavery was), by arguing that the slaves probably led better lives then they would have had they been in Africa and faced privation and such....

  64. It sounds heavenly.

  65. So it is okay for underage children to work if the parents "voluntarily" place them?
    I cannot imagine how anyone can rationalize making little children work.

  66. Isn't it about time that the world take a hard look at this so called democracy that permits children and adults to be so exploited? We have treated this country, with all its self-created problems, with kid gloves, afraid to take a stand against the leaders who have tolerated rotten conditions for so long.
    Enough of this already. It's time to have a reality check and call upon the truth to prevail!

  67. I don't know how doctors are certified in India but I think they should have their licenses revoked and their pictures run in every newspaper in the country, just in case they are capable of feeling shame!

  68. Economists who blame the downfall of Rome on a slave economy would probably identify this neo-Roman attitude towards servants as a reason why India, despite a rich culture which values education and knowledge, long ago lost its stature as a nation of importance and still struggles to this day to lift itself out of poverty. It's not enough to merely adopt consumerism and capitalism for the upper classes, it requires modern labor standards and respect for all levels of society.

  69. Is this so far from what Gingrich has suggested? I think Republicans would have no problem putting maybe not young children, but teens to work for sub-minimum wages. They think that's what constitutes a free society.

  70. Teens? NO!!!! Make it any republican, they are perfectly happy with 99% getting by-- just to satisfy the wants of the 1%. Being poor is just too bad. The greedy rich are so out of touch with the hardship of the poor.

  71. When I was a child in the late 1950's, my family lived for three years in what is now Jharkhand, then Bihar, in Jamshedpur. Because it was expected, we had servants -- an ayah, a bearer, a gardener, and a cook. A woman came in to clean, who was an "untouchable." My parents paid everyone above standard wages for the time -- my parents were middle class Americans, by the way, who didn't believe in exploitation, and my father didn't make a huge salary. In India, you can effectively have servants and pay them fairly well, with little impact on your pockets, if you're careful. Stories like this speak to greed and entitlement, based on caste and other class considerations. I also witnessed child labor, although not in anyone's home. In my experience, if India wants to address an issue completely, they have to dedicate themselves to doing it, or nothing will change.

  72. Excellent point. The many inequities and injustices of Indian society are rooted in caste, which is the central tenet of the Hindu religion.

  73. DV-"The many inequities and injustices of Indian society are rooted in caste, which is the central tenet of the Hindu religion."

    What kind of religion dictates that some humans be treated like animals while others be afforded all the wealth and privilege of the world?

    Not any I'd want to be part of.

  74. The servants is the norm of the wealthy! In America also servants are common for the wealthy. Now America close to Sonia Gandhi government can do something to prevent child labour.

  75. According to multicultural doctrine and its prime directive, all cultures are equally valid and in no way are we to try to change them to suit our sensitivities or values. Or does this only apply to Christian missionaries?

  76. Here is where the phrase "politics makes strange bedfellows" is expressed in reality. The same left-wing multi-culturalists that tolerate this abhorrent behavior in the name of non-judgmentalism are in bed with far-right capitalists who don't believe in a minimum wage or regulation of any kind. And since it is the politically active extremists of both parties that set the political agendas, the sensible moderates - who believe in reasonable regulation, minimum wage and border control - get no say and have no advocates on the national scene.

  77. It applies to no one because their are inalienable human rights that supercede culture.

  78. For many of these kids its a choice between starving on the streets or working as a domestic help. As Indian middle class grows rich, the extremely poor see some of the wealth trickle down in form of domestic help employment. Not condoning the despicable actions of this 'highly educated' couple but these kids would probably be dying in slums if not employed. In most cases they are fed, clothed and paid minimum wage to survive.

  79. Two pieces of bread a day is not "fed."

  80. India's criminal justice and judicial systems - in fact ALL of their systems - are so routinely corrupt, there is almost no hope of justice for these poor children. The perpetrators just pay off the police and courts.

  81. India can't even provide safe drinking water to upper middle class neighborhoods 24/7 yet they have a space program.

    Go figure.

  82. US can't even keep its citizens from losing their homes and lifelong earnings yet it will go bomb other nations. Go figure!

  83. By all means every developed nation ought continue whistling past the graveyard until the global population zooms from 7 billion to 9 billion. Slavery is supply and demand, apart from immoral and profoundly cruel. Why do we hear nothing from the wealthiest corporations who exploit this sadness ... the Vatican and organized religion included?

  84. The article (and the accompanying comments) assume that the problem is getting worse as India is getting richer. This is not the case. Servants are more difficult to hire nowadays and the pay has increased over the years. As India develops further and more employment opportunities are created, the problem will get better. Meanwhile, abuse should not be tolerated and the employers (doctors, no less!) who can go on an expensive holiday and would rather spend money on cameras than feed an hungry child should be punished severely.

  85. Getting better? There really is no evidence of that. As another poster mentioned, this is the oldest continuous civilization on earth - how much longer do they need to become civilized? 1/2 the country doesn't even have clean water!

  86. I was amazed to see a tweleve year boy who was working in the Red Fort, New Delhi in presence of Indian Army. He was digging the soil to make a sidewalk, even I had taken a picture of him also. Later on, I saw a ten year old Kashmiri girl panhandling in the intersection of New Delhi street, she was barefooted, and the temperature was 110 degree Farenheit. Besides, the child labor there are thousands and thousands of slumdogs in New Delhi and Agra where the Taj Mahal is located, and forget about Mumbai and other Interior cities.
    India should do something about child labor as well as child panhandling, just by talking tall and making big claims it should do something precisely to get rid of its betrayed and oppressed population.

  87. These folks need to learn how to do their own damn laundry.

  88. Why? what happened to dignity of labor? Why should US decide what jobs should and should not be done by citizens of other countries? I'm not for children working as domestic help, but a blanket ban does nothing to solve the poverty stricken people of countries like India.
    Oh, or were you offering to send your complete salary to the poor kids in India so they can eat?

  89. The middle-class families in the housing complex where the 13-year-old girl worked, in the suburb of Dwarka, professed shock over her treatment? Yet, they will not offer her any assistance. Right. Poor children are treated like dogs in India. The rich the world over feel they deserve servants, and servants deserve to serve the rich; so much for Jesus, Buddha, or any kind of morality. No mention was made of the obvious sexual exploitation of these children, and of the poor in general. Rich men feel they have the right to rape poor women, girls and boys. Until some rich exploiters are offered up for very public punishment, then this will go on unabated; we will have the occasional outrage story, then another incident. Why have the laws not change? Why the male legislators like the situation; they get cheap labor and sex on the side.

  90. What this article fails to point out about live in domestic help from backward states is that often they are short of basic necessities (food, clothing) and bleak prospects at home. As a domestic help in an urban educated home, they are more likely to get education as well as stability and security. So a blanket ban is not the solution.

    Cases like the one here (btw, we should still wait to hear the employers story here before condemning them) are certainly not the norm. When they occur, the punishment should be severe enough to be a deterrent to others.

    Also relevant is the fact that civic activism is rising vis-a-vis under-age domestic help in urban india. More and more people report such employment by neighbors. While my mother's generation had separate vessels for help (not unlike in the movie 'the help'), i dont see it being done in our generation anymore.

  91. People like you, who defend the status quo by claiming domestic servitude is necessary, good for people, even, and citing the scant "progress" that might have occurred, are blind to the truth. To claim it is not the "norm" to mistreat people like this, is just plain wrong. It was quite usual in my mother's generation for women to beat their servants, as if their social status gave them the right. I don't know that the basics have changed, and I certainly don't know of anyone in the subcontinent (middle and upper class people) who tries to do WITHOUT servants, today. The only influential economic factor of recent times has been the availability of other work in places like Abu Dhabi and Dubai -- and this has done more to rock the boat of complacency than anything from within Indian society.

  92. Utter nonsense.

    If these children could be fed and educated simply by providing domestic help which the employers could have done themselves then these children could be fed and educated without having to provide that help which was never needed.

  93. India, a land of rising wealth but moral bankruptcy. Vast corruption with no remorse, and a caste system that relegates millions to a sub-human existence. This is the US's "Favored Nation" trading partner.

  94. I'm surprised New York Times finds this news. Numerous times activists and writers like us have reported this slavery that often includes physical, mental and sexual abuse. Major media that everyone follows must include in their stories the extreme, despicable inequality in India and other such "developing" countries, citing the underlying economic and political reasons. India, I know, is an extreme example of social and income inequality; it is also a country where patriarchy and feudalism have taken a brutal form. These "new" reports also must include the role of IMF, World Bank and multinational corporations that keep escalating the social violence, desperation and deaths. Can we separate poverty and child labor stories from the biggest-in-history farmer suicides in India? Hardly! Can we separate the underlying causes? They are overlapping. Oh yes, for that matter, can we separate the extreme equality, poverty and worker exploitation in India and those here in this so-called land of opportunity? Hardly either! Just think about the always-under-the-rug destitution of undocumented workers and their families. Or, for that matter, the millions of poor people rotting in America's private prisons. I know there must be one focus for one story. Point is, don't tell us the poverty and labor slavery story in India is isolated in this global economy. Please continue, and give us a series of examples from all over the world. Don't exclude India. Don't exclude USA.

  95. "India, I know, is an extreme example of social and income inequality; it is also a country where patriarchy and feudalism have taken a brutal form."

    Same thing with Sudan.

    Read the book "Escape from Slavery: The True Story of My Ten Years in Captivity and My Journey to Freedom in America" by Francis Bok.

    Francis Piol Bol Bok, a Dinka tribesman and native of South Sudan, was a slave for ten years but is now an abolitionist and author living in the United States.

    On May 15, 1986, he was captured and enslaved at age seven during an Arab militia raid on the village of Nymlal in South Sudan during the Second Sudanese Civil War. Bok lived in bondage for ten years before escaping imprisonment in Kurdufan, Sudan, followed by a journey to the United States by way of Cairo, Egypt.

    He was beaten, starved and forced to work under the constant threat of having his limbs chopped off.

    He was also forced to pray with his muslim family slave masters. The same people who murdered his family.......

    What a great way to demonstrate one's 'faith'.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Bok

  96. I have to defend the NYT on this one. Outside of stories on the plight of illegal aliens, the NYT is one of the only news outlets that ever covers this issue. And they do so frequently, not only as news stories but in form of Nicholas Kritoff's many insightful exposes. In these pages (screenshots?) I've read of similar stories from Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Thailand and, yes, the U.S. For me, on this, kudos to the NYT.

  97. India's culture is India's business. We need to stop trying to westernize and/or democratize every non-western society whose culture offends our sensibilities. (How's the Arab democratization program working out?) In matters of trade, where the use of measures or procedures unlawful here give an "unfair competitive advantage," charge a tariff. They don't have to like like our tarffs any more than we have to like their employment practices/procedures.

  98. Women, children, gay people and minorities live in every culture on earth. If equality under the law and equal opportunity are "Western" ideas, how did India give us Ghandi? How did Islam come to the belief that all human beings are equal? How did Communism come to China?

    Every culture has a right to its own values -- including Western culture. The Chinese and Indians judge us for our disrespect of our elders. Muslims judge us for our lack of sexual control. Latin Americans judge us for our coldness and our general inability to throw a decent party. We judge them for a lack of concern with equality. They are right. And we are right.

    Every culture has something to learn from every other. Being open to other cultures and open to learning does not mean giving up your own values or your own judgements.

    India's culture is India's business. And there are thousands and thousands of Indians -- here and there -- who find this kind of story shameful and wrong. They are fighting for a better India. And we should do everything within our power (peacefully applied) to support them.

  99. SDK: "Islam come to the belief that all human beings are equal? " ROFL!

  100. Entitlement as a mental construct to defend cruelty and greed is fascinating but with heinous consequences. I often wonder what it would take to make the Vermas see themselves as they really are..............but I'm sure they have created a reality that precludes that insight. Karma comes to mind.

  101. This is one of the reasons China has a one child policy.

  102. Astounded that the population is now shaken by the plight of this child....after all - there are millions of children being exploited in this way. It is a failure of the country, legal system and society that this should be blamed on!

    However, as a general note - in many parts of Asia and the Middle East - the culture of maids have taken on such repugnant bearings with humans being treated as sub human by the rich!

  103. We all have multiple child workers laboring in slave-like conditions: they make our clothes, electronics, and cheap consumer goods. Sometimes they sort through and recycle the hazardous waste in third world dump sites where the detritus from the manufacturing process of our consumer goods ends up. The privilege of living in the United States is that you don't have to live in the same house with the great masses of unwashed people, don't have to supervise their labor (the owners of sweatshops take care of that on our behalf) and can generally live guilt-free because it's all distant and unseen. All of this is bad enough, but the kind of righteousness with which India is now being condemned pushes the whole affair from the realm of tragedy towards farce. Consider, also, the difficult working conditions of many immigrant women who look after the homes and babies of wealthy New Yorkers, clean up after us when we stay in hotels, clean our office buildings when we go home, etc. This is not to say that the situation in India as described in the article is not atrocious--it is to be condemned in the strongest terms, but not as some kind of uniquely Indian problem. There are many atrocities that we are directly implicated in and could have an immediate and direct impact on if we chose to pay attention to how we live, and the way in which our lifestyles restrict the life chances of people around the world.

  104. Mr Vinod Puri wrote:
    While visiting India several years ago, I asked a rich relative what had she done to deserve a servant.
    --
    As per Oxford Online:

    servant: a person who performs duties for others, especially a person employed in a house on domestic duties or as a personal attendant.

    So you can ask what has queen of England done to deserve so many servants. What has any busy couple in the USA done to deserve a baby-sitter. Or ask, why do drug cartels get ordinary people to be their couriers. Why do Wall Street firm get smart people to support their lies and the crooked ways of making money? How so many businesses get cheap illegal immigrant workers. Read the recent NYT article by Kevin Roose to realise that even in America there are servants!

    I am not condoning child-labor or the cruel treatment of this child. Somebody agreeing to work in your home is determined by economics. Unfortunately, there is somebody, who is poor enough to think that little money, shelter and food is worth becoming a 'servant'. They are willing to risk sending their children thousands of miles away, hoping that they will have a better life. Life without these opportunities must be bad enough that thousands of them continue to work despite never having been locked up. Sad but true. Bad part is that some people are able to dehumanize 'servants' and treat them like in this story.

    It is just that current economic disparity in India allows middle class to have servants, but not in the USA.

  105. This really is quite standard in India. So is chopping of an arm or leg of small kids so they are allowed to be beggars - they are all over New Delhi. All the beautiful carpets we buy here in New York are forced labor of little kids causing blindness. India is India.

  106. @ Todd. Stop being stereotypical. Why tarnish everyone with the same brush. They are not being paid by americans. They are being paid for the job they are doing. Slavery exists everywhere . Even more so in America. How do you thing all hispanics are working. How do you think you get your daily meat and fruit and veg. All slave labour.

  107. It beggars belief that two members of the medical profession should treat a child in that fashion. Decent human kindness demands that young children are cherished and looked after, no matter whose child it is.
    If that child had fallen ill whilst in their employ would they have acted as Doctors or got rid and bought another child?
    The mind boggles!

  108. When I asked my room mate, who was pursuing a doctoral degree in physics, why he was treating his brother-in-law (also a doctoral student in physics at another university) - with unusual deference, he replied (I paraphrase a longish answer): "because I do not want my sister's in-laws to punish her, beat her up, burn her, or make her ask my parents for a bigger dowry." His sister was a physician in India, living with the in-laws and financially supporting them, while her husband was pursuing a doctoral degree here in the US.

    I remember going back to my room in the student apartment we shared, and crying. Education, religious affiliation, status in society have no impact, we harbor a beast-like contempt, callousness, cruelty toward the poor. These animals (the doctor couple reported in this article) deserve to be locked up for the rest of their lives, and made to do hard labor - the kind of which they subjected on this little child.

    While NYT reports such a story once in a while, this kind of slavery and cruelty is a way of life for at least a 100 million Indians. There is no culture in India worth talking about, no civic society of which we can be proud as long as Indians treat other Indians this way. The passes for Hinduism today is nothing more than sanctimonious nonsense spouted by bearded sex-addicts, sociopaths, and greedy politicians (I know this is a redundancy in terms). But it is all kinds of attractive to the "eat, pray, love" set in the US. For shame.

  109. Anecdotal Stereotyping and making Fatuos unwarranted connections of one contemptible couple to entire Hinduism. We don't even know from the article if they are devout hindus.

  110. "There is no culture in India worth talking about, no civic society of which we can be proud as long as Indians treat other Indians this way. The passes for Hinduism today is nothing more than sanctimonious nonsense spouted by bearded sex-addicts, sociopaths, and greedy politicians (I know this is a redundancy in terms)"

    With these comments, you have shown yourself to be a rabid racist. It is a shock that this was not moderated out, but then these pages have generally been hostile to India for years.

    You started out in a pious way, expressing some pseudo compassion for the oppressed, but it soon devolved into your true conclusion, which is to vent your racial and religious hatred. Bravo.

  111. LOL! Kalidan, your roommate was pulling your leg. I bet he is still telling this story to his friends and his sister and getting a big laugh! Of course India has lot of problems, but what you described in this story never ever happens!

  112. Both the story and the posted comments refer to the "hireing" of these young childrfen.
    The term "hireing" implys payment of wages for contracted labor.
    These children are not "hired" , they are taken as slaves by middle class and wealthy families in a society that places no value on these children.

  113. Insight, perhaps, into why India has a thriving Communist Party, especially in the Northeast. Capitalism wed to Hinduism is a potent brew indeed!

  114. And capitalism wed to all other religions is paradise! Hmm.. let me remember World War II

  115. And capitalism without Hinduism is nothing... The CLASS structure is the gift of Aryan Hindus and some of the countries are selling this re-invented recipe...

  116. Actually, the Communists are doing quite poorly in India. The capitalists have done more to help poor Indians improve their lot than any socialists or communists ever could.

  117. Now Dr. Sanjay Verma and Dr. Sumita Verma will have to bribe the Police and the Judge to get away from this grisly crime. They sure will do once the noise dies down.
    Everyone will forget this episode and the Vermas can peacefully get back to the business of abusing children forever.

    This is India.

  118. Give the neighbors some credit. While I'm sure the neighbors have yelled at their own servants at times, they also probably feed them and do not beat them.

    There is a very wide range between a fair system and what happened here and most servant-employer relationships in India probably fall into that area. They are unfair by U.S. standards but not abusive by Indian ones.

    This situation was abusive by all standards. The courts may not do justice but perhaps the neighbors will tell the Varnas they are no longer welcome there.

  119. Wow, another ethnocentric nytimes story. Surprise, surprise.

    Yes, child labor is bad. But read it again, it says that children from poverty either get into the domestic help service or prostitution. In that situation, what would you want your child to do? Most households in India treat their domestic help well. North India, sadly, is still a little backward about things like this. As a social worker, trying to explain to a north indian man that rape is not a woman's fault was so exhausting that I never got anywhere with them. So, I am not surprised that this incident happened in New Delhi.

    Here's an uncomfortable truth, the rich in the U.S. have maids too.In fact, nearly every country does. Do you really think the illegal immigrants that you hire are treated better than the domestic help in other countries?

    Also, stop calling it slavery. The article clearly states "Domestic work employs millions of people in India, most of them adults". Employs, not enslaves.

    Let's stop with the country-bashing and focus on what we can do to help, instead.

  120. Country-bashing works ... if you do it by not buying a service or product from the country du jour that is abusing citizens' rights. I add cruelty to animals and environmental degradation to my hit-list, too.

    I won't buy anything from China (and if a label doesn't tell me where something is from, I don't buy it either.) India is on my list. It's now a longish list. I know it won't make much of a dent; but I'm hoping other folks will help by doing what they can, too.

  121. "Let's stop with the country-bashing and focus on what we can do to help, instead."

    Lets stop supporting slavery and human trafficking by reporting these injustices when and where we see them.

  122. Where there is no fear of God these things happen. In societies that exploit children they are seen as nothing more than a domestic appliance that unfortunately needs to be fed, clothed and beaten into the proper deference and submission required for household scrubbing, cleaning, and fetching. If only someone would invent the nice clean robots that don't need their masters to train them and provide food and clothing for, this would all go away. What is they believe ? Oh, that's right, if they kill the little scrubbing & fetching person they'll come back in a new life as a cow. Just don't try killing the far more valuable cows.

  123. I am sorry, if fear of God sufficed to end all this, slavery would have been deemed illegal in the US much before it actually was, so please do not bring religion into the picture here . It is well known that churches actually helped justify slavery in the South. That said, I am not condoning this case in any way and hope that the culprits are certainly given as harsh a punishment as possible.

  124. There is a general disconnect between say and do in Indian culture. There is some connection between sophisticated, indeed, noble, ideals and the crudest sort of exploitation and contempt. I would not be caught helpless in their power. Or by anyone else with their head in the clouds.

  125. Pass all the laws you want--nothing will change until those laws are enforced. This couple will get off with a slap on the wrist and in 6 months another poor girl will be "working" for them--enslaved by them.

    This situation is where slavery meets domestice violence--both situations considered private for centuries--not public. These people think what they do in their home is nobody's business but their own, and I'm sure most of their relatives and friends engage in the same practice. And the judges who sit in chamber, the politicians who pass the laws, et al.

    A dramatic change is going to have to occur. RIght now I'm not seeing it. Racism combined with money=slavery. Add some sexism in there because while it's not mentioned, I'm guessing a vast majority of these "workers" are girls and women.

    And India is not the only place that does this. I live in an affluent community just north of NYC and several times a year see headlines about folks right in my county who traffic young girls over here, enslave them sexually and force them into similar "domestic worker" situations.

    "Ripped from the headlines"--indeed.

  126. Wow. India took no time at all to adopt Gingrich's vision for improving the US economy.

  127. Actually India is paying for the adopting FDR/Carter/Obama policies. Instead of fighting caste system and poverty head on, successive socialist governments in India relied on social justice & social engineering. They started paying money, installed affirmative action and devised all sorts of plans for social engineering. Like you see in today's US - Food stamps, 50% people don't pay any taxes. Even though in US the top 5% pay 70% of the total taxes, they are still accused of not paying their 'fair share'.

  128. And the top 5% have 70% of the national wealth - how is then paying 70% of the taxes unfair to them?

  129. The only difference between pre-civil war America and post civil war American is the slaves get a pay check and have to provide the own housing and food.

    American Democracy is a light show of blue smoke and mirrors. i.e. and illusion.

    "We the People" exist to allow the 1% percent to live in the manner they are accustom.

  130. So true.

    Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America a book written by Barbara Ehrenreich, is a great example of this.

  131. Oh, come on. Are you really saying that an American slave from 1850 wouldn't trade places with poor Americans today, who -- although they suffer in many ways -- are generally free to seek jobs, employment, marry, and raise their own children, and have many government services in place to help them along the way?

    Let's dial down the hyperbole a little. It's not helpful. Saying "every country is equally guilty" and "the rich always screw the poor" is another way of saying that there's nothing that can be done, and no point in trying. I think we can all do better than that, both here and abroad. Things have gotten better in many ways -- but they will only continue to do so if people keep fighting the good fight.

  132. Wage slavery is completely different from the horrid lives that actual slaves lead where they could be tortured, raped and killed at the whim of anyone who wasn't a slave.

  133. Do not act like anyone is shocked by this, it has been going on forever in every country where poor people have a dozen or more kids that they don't want and can't feed.

    In the 60s I had a high school assignment to write a report and I did mine on the disposable children of South America. Parents refused to use birth control because they were good Catholics but they had no qualms about selling their children into slavery, or to pimps or dropping them off at the garbage dump.

    The lack of birth control causes poverty and degradation , everyone knows that except for republicans. Unwanted children make a huge slave labor pool in every third world country in the world.

    If you do not want child slavery to happen, then make sure that everyone has access to birth control and dry up the labor pool.

  134. Is anyone really surprisd with how sme children are treated in India, China etc.These countries climb up the economic ladder not by just hard work but the enslavement of children .we must review all goods and services purchased in the USA. We must also include legal and illegal visitors to our country who travel with underage unrelated members.

  135. Unfortunately "some" of your countrymen still hold on to simplistic world views like yours. Besides, "some" of you always lump India with China whenever talking about today's developing economies.
    Yet, when "bad" things in these countries are reported, the Chinese Communist government is to blame, never the Indian democratic system of government.
    To claim "these countries" have climbed the economic ladder (also) on "enslavement of children" is false and groundless. You knew your country's history on slavery and do tell us how it had helped or harmed your economy.

  136. Helen, trying to blacklist countries, with 1/3 or more of the world population, because we are faux outraged with a few shocking stories, is hardly the answer. Let us make sure our outrage is not colored by some prior issues such as job losses from out sourcing. Your statement that India and China are improving not by hardwork but only from slavery of kids is the biggest nonsense I have seen in a while. It is easy to express moral outrage from far. May I remind, we have millions of disadvantaged here, and have myriad race/class/regional problems ourselves, despite being the wealthiest society on the planet and starting out so many advantages that the rest of the world can only dream of.

    I see a lot of outrage in the comments posted here. If it is motivated by genuine concern for the oppressed child labor in India and if we are willing to do something constructive, that is welcome and good. If the comments only say "oh, we told you, India and Indians are horrible, they are still not evolved, we should send them back home and cut off relations", it only shows our own ignorance and prejudic, and hardly helps the subject of this article, namely the oppressed kids there.

  137. This is an uneducated and uninformed point of view. This is not at all how Indian and China have climbed up the economic ladder.

  138. Nothing less than a complete overhaul of the legal basis for hiring and retaining domestic help is required in India. The barter system must be banned, so that there is no "room and meals" for work. Barter will lead to abuse in many cases. Domestic help should be hired at a wage paid in rupees and in no other way. Child labor should be banned.

    The practice of selling children should meet stiff penalties, despite the desperation of those who sell their own children. Those further up the chain, those making a killing on this trade, must suffer the greater penalty, including the homes into which these young victims end up.

    This is modern day slavery and it is based on the privilege granted by caste and, lately, income (also largely determined by caste). There must be a concerted effort at every level of government to stamp out these practices, or India will not deserve admission to the modern civilized world.

  139. My family is from India, although I was born and grew up in the US. Most of my relatives live in India, and yes some of them do have domestic help. I would like to think that my relatives take good care of their helpers, who do everything from cleaning and cooking to even taking care of the kids and babysitting. The helpers always seem eager to help in any way they want to.

    It is a part of the culture. I like to think of my cousins there as spoiled, because they don't do tasks like fetching their shoes, or going to the store to buy candy or snacks; they have their domestic helpers do those tasks for them. My mother was raised in a household with domestic help, so I notice that she tends to rely on them somewhat. But at the same time, having had to do her own cleaning and cooking in the U.S., she seems very sympathetic for them and tries to help them out when she visits her family. I myself am quite uncomfortable with the whole situation, as I'm used to doing these tasks on my own. I usually have to tell them to pretend I'm not there and let me be, that I can fetch my shoes on my own.

  140. Drew,
    How are the servants treated? How old are they? Would you feel comfortable if someone you cared for was a servant in an Indian household? If you feel uncomfortable with any of these questions, that is a pretty good indicator that this is probably not an ethical situation.

  141. In most cases, I don't think people feel uncomfortable having household help. Rather, it's the degree to which Indians have given up basic tasks in the name of living well.

    Servants in India will routinely clean and fetch one's shoes. They will also be the ones who wake up in the middle of the night to comfort a baby or change its diaper when it cries. Other times, they will carry the toys of a child who is done playing with them.

    Simply put, Indians have grown fat and lazy on the backs of their servants. That said, there are not many jobs for uneducated and unskilled workers. These servants often have no other options available to them. They work at a young age because their families are often desperately poor.

    The situation isn't cut and dry, and it's certainly not one that's easily remedied.

  142. This infuriates me! I have only one question: what can we do to help these children?

  143. Good question. While this article focuses on the abuse of under-age domestic workers in India: the fact remains that worldwide - children and adults are also being exploited by multinational corporations. In fact, very often it's because the parents aren't paid living wages that the children are forced to work. One way to help is to identify, publicize, pressure the government, and/or boycott the companies that either manufacture and/or sell products that are made in countries where child labor is tolerated. There are plenty of groups out there that are already organized to pursue these goals. Find one online and get involved. It may sound overly optimistic but there is an international history of success via the use of these methods. It's going to take more than just writing a check to a charity group (though there's nothing wrong with that). We all have to become more politically active - in as many ways as we can. As it is, we as Americans, whether we want to admit it or not, have on our hands the blood of laborers from around the world. Plus, for decades now, those same corporations have had their lobbyists, journalists, and admen working hard (with the help of many of our politicians) to whittle away at our knowledge and our rights so they can bring those same working conditions right back here to the USA. Forget around "Hello 1950", or "Hello 1905". If the right-wing nutcases could have their way it would be "Hello 1850".

  144. Having lived in India, I can attest that the treatment of servants, especially live-in servants is quite bad. In certain cases I have even seen 7-8 year old kids talk in a language to a much older servant the would make me cringe.That said, this particular case is very shocking - I have never heard of servants not being starved or being beaten.

  145. The manner in which wealthy young Indians treat their servants is particularly disturbing and cringe-worthy. That said, it's all their parents' fault for setting a bad example.

    This, by the way, comes from someone who has married a woman who grew up in reasonably well off in India.

  146. The situation about child labour is not so different across the border in Pakistan and occasionally cases are reported about such abuses. Interestingly, employers consider themselves to be giving a favor to the child as life otherwise would have been even harsher to that kid (working in a kiln for example). The solution to this lies in a whole-of-society approach and not just banning domestic work by children. Banning opens an underground market, It is better to regulate it. Till the time, government cannot educate every child and provide sufficient jobs in market, parents will continue to put their children in work rather than school to make both ends meet

  147. Sometimes it seems the situation for the poor is so dismal in India and the only redeeming part is this amazing bunch of journalists and news outlets fighting for them.

    The Press is indeed free and flourishing there. Unlike say, Russia.

  148. Indian psyche has developed in a way to kick the low class
    and kiss the upper class. This is a product of culture that shaped
    this sort of attitude over centuries. It is the same story in offices
    where peons and clerks are maltreated and conditioned to
    show lot of respect to their superiors.
    Incidentally, Indian diplomats carry the same attitude in dealing
    with the small and poorer countries and are resented.
    Democracy in India is a sham and Americans always fall
    for the labels. India earns brownie points with the Americans
    who are fixated on growth rate and purchasing power
    (consumerism).

  149. I'd love to refute your cynical take on Indian culture and our national self-interests, but, sadly, I can't seem to come up with a convincing rebuttal.

  150. While I agree that Indians are prone to look down on those they deem their inferiors, I don't see where one can argue that India's democracy is a sham. Elections are remarkably competitive, and politicians of all castes, religions, and sexes have risen to the highest positions.

    I would consider a bit more research before just spewing random untrue tidbits.

  151. How inhuman and animal can so called educated persons are unless you read these kind of incidents, which are frequent social practice in PAKISTANI,INDIAN, BANGLADESHI & NEPALESE middle/upper class social group.Local and International group should create relentless pressure to make laws that without registaring to local labor department no one can hire domestic workers.If found otherwise, he/she should be fined astronomical sums so that nobody dare to hire without the knowledge of appropritate authority.These doctors' chuldren should be treated the same way to show them how cruel they were.The indian sub-continent way of life is so ego-centric that most people do not care inhuman practice and behavior (direagrd for other human being).Hope real educated group with human values will come forward and certe a massive movement to erase cast, class & all social division.

  152. Pakistan should not be included in such inhuman practice of child slavery. In urban cities of Pakistan the law is so tough, and any wrongdoers with the child has to go to jail, there is no exception.
    But we should think overall about all children, not only our that my child should go to medical school, my child should be an engineer or lawyer.
    This mentality is very much rooted in Indian and less in Pakistan, that is why the demand for compulsory eduacation for all child in Pakisdtan is taking strong momentum, and which will be materialized in couple of years.
    At present 80% of Pakistani chlild can read and write.

  153. Haider Ali's response could have been considered funny, had such nationalistic sentiments not sent Pakistanis already into a bizarroland. At a time when girls schools are being burnt down in Pakistan, and boys go to madrasas to memorize the Koran and do only that, Mr Ali says education is taking a strong momentum in Pakistan!

    We have serious problems in India. Many have roots in the millenium old caste system. But - many of us are also aware of this. Note that the organizations mentioned in the article that are fighting such injustice are all Indian, not foreign born. We WILL prevail over injustice. But please - refrain from comparing us to Islamic countries!

  154. Back in India, we do have a maidservant who is an adult lady and each time she is ill she will send her teen daughter to do the cleaning and i did what i should have but all in vain.I had actually seen this story on India TVs youtube channel in hindi before i saw it here and was ah NY times has covered it too.
    It is a classic case of the modern world, where we seems to be loosing compassion for our fellow humans. In India first things first, we need to start treating those people like humans, understand basics like just coz they are poor, they feel hungry, they like to sleep, wear , play and do all that we like and that we are able to and they arent doesnt mean we are superior and that its just that Allah has been kind to us and not them and this is our test:

    Al lazi kalakal mauta wal hayata li yablukum ayekum ahsanu amala : he has created live n death so that he can see which of us is better

    peace out

  155. No one is surprised. India has been a slave state for centuries with their caste system. As it persists, the US endorses this by proxy by continuing to do business with India and their systemic malaise. Coincidentally, we are little better here in the US as our 1% impoverishes and indentures to the 99% to the National Debt and the Fraud as Profit center Banking System, The Federal Reserve and the US Treasury. It's Semantics for the same despicable behavior. Wise up people.

  156. I think you are just using this pretext of this story to express your own latent and not so latent malice to India. To say that we should not be doing business with India because of their caste system makes zero sense. If the rest of the world followed such a principle, and said we should not be doing business with the US, a country that had slavery as an institution until 1860's, segregation until 50 years ago, and has enormous racial problems even today even with a African American President, we will be like Iran and Cuba, effectively cut off from the rest of this world. Besides, I want to know which country does not social ills. India's issues have been in works for many thousands of years, it was under colonial rule till 65 years ago, and trying to bootstrap itself, and the last thing it needs is being cutoff from the rest of the world because a few people in the west are bitter over job losses from outsourcing and looking to scapegoat India on stories like this.

  157. But U.S. has caste system too, and it's horrendous (and unlike India, nobody talks about it). Just look at the pathetic rich-poor divide. I'm not even talking about the slave immigrant labor and one million people rotting in private prisons.

  158. Kartik, Sorry, the US and India do not have comparable problems.
    Our house is much cleaner than India's. Of course we have our problems and we are far from perfect but we do not have 600 million poor who live on less than $2 a day, where beggars have chop off limbs in order to survive. Not PC to say but it's the truth.

    A Brazillian friend who now lives in England, just had a baby. She told me some of her relatives said...."take a girl from here with you to England". When my friend responded that she didn't have an extra bedroom. They said, "she can sleep on the floor of the nursery!"

    As an Asian American, I'm glad I was born in the US and brought up with white liberal guilt. It's very effective in regulating the treatment of domestic workers!

  159. It's not "white liberal guilt."
    it's compassion, common decency, and a sense of right and wrong which I hope are qualities all people, of all nationalities and colors aspire to cultivate.

  160. Sorry, I don't know if you are bragging about yourself or dissing India. In any case, what is the point? It is a developing country, enormously poor, under British colonial rule for hundreds of years, and chose the democratic route post-independence. If they had followed other east Asian countries, arguably their economic life would have been better - may be. But the country is trying to bootstrap itself up, even as there is so much social strife, so many different interests, with 25 major languages, multiple religions, hundreds of castes, etc. With hostile neighbors, so the country has to spend excessive and precious resources on defense too.

    I don't see how any American can brag about being better. Even if poverty levels over there are a hundred times worse, violent crime is orders of magnitude less, drug use is way less, and in many ways there is much less strife. Americans on the other hand, even being among the richest societies in the world, have ridiculous amounts of societal divisions, animosity to each other, racial problems, excessive violence, out of wedlock children, drug use, and so many other problems. Starting out with so many advantages, we should be doing a lot better, not comparing ourselves to India and feeling smug.

  161. Unfortunately we leave our elderly in nursing homes - they don't.

  162. And Newt Gingrich wants to end America's child labor laws.

  163. Because of our huge labor shortage.

  164. "Their lawyer denied the charges at a bail hearing. "

    Duh!

    Why even waste the space it took to publish this line?

    This is what lawyers do and say. This is why they are so "respected", in our society.
    Yeah, right.

  165. The lawyer is just doing his job. He has no obligation to plead his clients guilty at the preliminary stage, if ever.

    That said, I agree: There was no need to report on that fact.

  166. Those child-abusing doctors should lose their licenses and be forced to work as domestic help for someone else just as compassionate as themselves.

  167. One thing is missing in this article: why do Indian households need domestic help, viz., servants, even as people from the same background who have come here are able to do without? One reason of course is that there exist so many poor people in India. The other, more important I think, is that the Indian male is absolutely useless when it comes to domestic work. They are mama's boys who have been taken care of by the females in the household always, and once married, just sit on the be----s waiting to be served by the wives. If the wives are working outside of home, they therefore have no recourse other than hiring servants, particularly if she has children, or for that matter, grown up male kids.

    Check this out. Thousands of college and grad students come from India to the US every year. In most cases the males have no experience with taking care of themselves. They learn the hard way, which is why families here are able to get by without servants.

    So while this is about class and caste, it is also about gender. Surprise!

  168. These same guys who learn the hard way tacking care of the homes in the US will switch gear back to old ways once they return to India and will not touch a spoon so to say.

  169. Exactly!

  170. Actually, one reason the Inidian middle class relie on domestic help is that most middle-class Inidian wome work outside the home, at leat until their sons marry and their daughters-in-law produce children for them to care for. But really, I have lived in India, and everything is much more difficult and time-consuming there, from washing clothes to shopping for food. Sadly, it's cheaper and easier to hire someone to do do your laundry than try and find an apartment with a washing machine.

    Men are not the only ones attending college in Inidia. An educated woman is prized and respected in some ways more in Inidia than in the US. And while you'll rarely find a married Indian man doing housework, I have certainly seen bachelors cooking food and washing out their clothes by hand!

  171. Why should we care? If it wasn't for slave labor in far off lands we wouldn't get cheap goods. Besides those people aren't like us anyway, either the rich ones or the poor ones! (facetious comment for the few who read the NYT and have no idea)

  172. and for the few who might not have meant that way :).

  173. Regulation and enforcement is the best answer, they will work, maybe making the conditions better would be the solution. Also, many families treat their servants well, even send the children to school (children of the servants) and give them extra food for relatives. But you don't hear about that.

  174. "Also, many families treat their servants well, even send the children to school (children of the servants) and give them extra food for relatives. But you don't hear about that."

    Do YOUR children clean houses for well to do persons?

  175. Deshbabu,

    It is always bad news sells and good news is no news.

    House of Cards,

    I don't see your point. If someone can comment only if they have similar personal experience (good or bad) then most if not all of the comments for this article is ineligible.

  176. ^^^ @House of Cards - Do YOUR children know what acute poverty is? Do YOUR children know what it's like to not eat 3 meals a day? Probably YOUR children might be whining about princess beds or Gameboys but these kids can only dream about eating rice 3 times a day. That's how poor they are. And they have no help. Their parents earn less than $1/day. It's easy to comment from NYC sitting in a temperature controlled environment, surrounded by social engineering books/news papers. But it's extremely difficult to live in poverty, work hard 12-14 hrs/day in 100F sun and earn less than $1/day. And then provide for your children. As bad as Child Labor sounds, without these employment opportunities the children might die of starvation. Govt is unable to write a check to these families. There are too many. Many get exploited. No body is denying that. But at this moment there is no help for these children. Those who exploit them should be severely punished. But there are many who help these kids.

  177. Seeing 1/3 of Indian politicians in various parliments having pending legal issues, many felonious, I bet these two "doctors" (I use quotes because I don't respect these heartless scums as doctors) would beat their charges by some "means".

  178. A highly profitable practice for as long as we have records. All the more despicable in the 21st century!

  179. I'm wondering if all of us who have household help of imperfect immigration standing (not me, Mr. INS, honest!) shouldn't take a moment and think about whether we treat/pay/consider them quite as we'd like to be treated/paid/considered.

  180. I do my own housecleaning on the weekends, and now that my kids are old enough, they have to pitch in and help with the chores. My 12yo daughter asked me, why did she have to clean the upstairs bathroom, since her friend doesn't -- her friend's family hires a Brazilian housekeeper named Erika. I said, we are our own Erikas in this house. And when you are an adult and have to support yourself, you will know how to keep your home clean and not live in squalor.

  181. You suggest we take a good look at ourselves. I agree.
    Isn't there something in the Bible about that? I'm just saying ..........

  182. The issue is more than child labor. Issue is does Indian culture value children.

    I will say, at the cost of infuriating many people, that Indian culture and value system does not value children.

    If a son/daughter ignores his/her parents - every one talks - how horrible that son is - not taking care of the elderly parents. There is even an ideal son - "shravan Kumar"

    However, parents can produce a whole team whom they can not feed and cloth. These parents then turn the children over as domestic help to other people to live off earnings of these children. No one judges these people as bad parents or bad human beings. People employing these domestics will say that if they did not then these children will simply starve..

    Indian culture does not value children...A large number of indian problems can be traced to this deeply ingrained attitude.

  183. "Indian culture does not value children." I'm not angry at this comment. I'm only laughing at it. How quickly we can turn ourselves into experts of other civilizations and cultures! (Are there civilizations and cultures outside of Europe and America?)

    I'm laughing at some other comments too -- like, caste system, lack of religion, and all. How little do we know India (or for matter, any other "Third World" country).

    Seriously, as grave as the child labor, violence and exploitation is, look in the mirror. Maybe, we can find similar slavery, violence and oppression here in the U.S. too. The manifests are different, but the underlying reasons are not.

    What about killing countless innocent children in Afghanistan and Iraq and Vietnam by dropping bombs and using Agent Orange?

    Now, I am going to infuriate many people, I am sure.

  184. You are partly right - but the issue of producing teams has to do more with lack of education about contraception and the unwillingness of many to use it, more than anything else. I think it is a stretch to say that people in India do not value children. I know enough servants to scrounged every penny to make sure that the kids went to school so that they would not become servants in turn. My 2 cents.

  185. It is not that children are a separate species who should be valued. The problem is that Indian society (all of the subcontinent) is incredibly stratified by class, and that the rich literally HAVE NO CONCEPT of the humanity of their servants. They are treated as a separate species. Child or adult, it is all the norms of this practice of domestic labor which should be called into question. I remember Doris Lessing saying that it was not till years after she had left South Africa that she realized how warped the experience of growing up there had been, and I immediately thought, and have thought ever since, of my growing up in the subcontinent exactly the same way. There are many forms of inhumanity which socieites normalize, and which the participants can't see as AS abhorrent as people outside of that prevailing system are able to. Leave India for 40 years, do your own dirty work, and look back. Does the place seem a wonderful, "spiritual" wellspring of notions beneficial to humanity, or does it seem like a cesspool of exploitation, inequality, and loads and loads of obsolete relgious mumbo-jumbo?

  186. This is another example of Trickle down economics that doesn't really work.

    Think about the struggles of a 2- income family in the USA. Most "middle class' couples work here, but the vast majority of them cannot afford full time domestic help. Life is challenging: cooking, cleaning, getting the kids to school, helping them with homework, etc it's hard to keep it going, especially al at once.

    In India, 2 income families, many of whom occupy 'outsourced' American jobs, have this advantage over their american counterparts: the ability to employ full time domestic help-- often multiple people: cooks, drivers, nannies, tutors. This is the norm for dual career couples with professional jobs in India.

    Are there really "economic advantages" for the employment created by childhood laborers? Probably not for the children. That's just a myth to justify the practice. Any food, "education" or care is probably more than paid for with hours of unpaid manual labor. The most challenging, offending thing about this practice, is the genuine belief on the part of the employers that they are doing these children a huge favor, by demanding their time 24/7 and giving them a 2 chapati's a day.

  187. While the culture is indifferent to America it is also very difficult to envision such wrongs against these poor children. This is an issue that remains in the hands of the Indian government. A government that has not yet come to terms with being a world power. That power includes be a role model for others. The political system in India is horrendous. Too many regional groups and too many differing political views. The lower caste is today still treated in misery.Another issue that has gotten no real press time or Western government questioning is that of the thousands of girls, mostly young, that have disappeared. Many have been killed. More so there has been no outrage regarding this issue.

  188. You are right about castes.

    The people who abuse domestic servants tend to be from the high castes and the domestic servants themselves tend to be from the lowest castes (the census of India carried out by its British governors in 1911 and 1921 counted 4000 endogamous castes). The judges tend to be from the high castes and they are likely to favor the parties who belong to a similar caste.

    The caste system is enshrined in the Hindu religion in practice and in its sacred documents in ways too numerous to be listed here. When Mark Twain visited India for some months in the 19th century, he remarked that the Hindus venerate all manner of creatures (the Hindus worship the monkey and elephant for example) except the human.

    Very little about India can be understood without a deep knowledge of the caste system. If you want to understand why Mohan Das Gandhi undertook a fast in 1932 and emotionally blackmailed Dr. Ambdekar as well as the British and thus prevented the lowest castes from acquiring rights, you need to understand the role of caste in Hindu India. Why are the rich Indians so emotionally numb to the plights of the slum dwellers who surround their mansions? The rich are from the high castes, while the slum dwellers are from the lowest.

    The best place to begin understanding the Hindu caste system is the book "Hindu manners, customs, and ceremonies" by Abbe Dubois who spent nearly thirty years in India from approximately 1790 to 1830.

  189. "poltical system horrendous. too many political views" right. its called a democracy. as for the state of the children, don't think indian schools have experienced a columbine. don't think they have "backpages" website either where underage girls are forced into prostitution. maybe we should clean our own house first

  190. True enough but have your walked around the poor sections of Chicago lately? Did you see children hanging around, not in school? Did you see mothers addicted to drugs? People without healthcare? Homeless people? Did you see children who are probably being abused?

    We have the right to be outraged but it would also be good if outrage would begin at home.

  191. This story is very disheartening. I am sorry to say it's one of the things I find very disappointing about India. I hope there is a Gandhi type person out there somewhere who might fight to change this societal abuse of so many millions of Indian children deprived of a childhood. How is this okay?

    Two quotes from Gandhi come to mind: "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." And "The more people I meet, the more I love my dog."

    I do hope that the prevailing laws to protect children in India, feeble as they may be, serve the public good in this particular case and that these 2 doctors are prosecuted to the full extent as deserved. And I hope this poor child may finally have a happy life surrounded by caring adults. Adults can be so disappointing sometimes in this cruel world.

  192. While all the comments have expressed rightful outrage but have completely missed the point. It is not the Indian habit of seeking domestic help which gives reasons for abuse it is the abject poverty in certain regions which puts kids in such vulnerable situations.
    Let us not forget having domestic help is a phenomena from the British who had housekeepers and servants.Reason it stopped was because the equality in UK society pushed up the wages for such jobs eventually making it impossible to keep it.
    Didnt slavery in US itself entail having domestic help? US still was considered a democracy before abolition of slavery.One of the founding fathers Thomas Jefferson let it continue.
    In all fairness in recent times laws have been passed to stop child labour in India. I myself have seen a definite decrease in child workers in restaurants and cafes. You cannot expect change overnight and child abuse of some kind exists in all societies in the world.It may manifest in a different way.We just need to keep working to eradicate it.

  193. The British are to blame for much of India's problems, and rightly so, but for creating the Indian servant class? Seems doubtful. The historical record seems to show that, if anything, British colonialists adopted the Indian way of life by hiring ammahs, ayahs, bearers, bhistis, sweepers, syces, dhurzis, and a great many other servants they could never have afforded back home. Indeed, for them this way of life was one of the "perks" of living abroad — just as it is for some Westerners living in India today.

    The fact is, the codified Indian caste system predates colonialism by more than a thousand years, with the "lower" classes always having been used as servants and peasant laborers. (I cannot remember if it's the Shudra or the Vaisya who were (are?) considered the servant class?) Though to be fair, I don't think you can point to any complex civilization with a stratified class system that didn't use, or doesn't use, domestic servants in order for the wealthy to keep up appearances.

    What Westerners find so appalling about child labor in India today is that India is by so many other measures a developed nation. Abuse cases involving husband-and-wife doctors, or a diplomat serving in the U.S. (who surely knows what the norms are here??), contrast starkly with an image of India as a nation on the rise. It's the shock of learning that here, among India's most progressive (the educated elite), are India's most reactionary.

  194. How long is "overnight" in India? Let's see...it did take about 89 years for the U.S. to abolish slavery in 1865, give or take. And, while we do have our problems, we have strict laws on child labor which are embraced by the majority.

    India's independence from the British was in much more modern times and India has since made tremendous advances in nuclear power, the internet, medicine, etc., which shows the ability of its citizens to embrace education and succeed. But you ask us to excused it for not being able to grasp the intricacies of humane behavior towards those who are the weakest? If you need to keep working to eradicate it, work harder. The whole world is watching.

  195. This is terrible for any country to have children 13 years of age and even younger getting sold or kidnapped and forced to do these kind of jobs. With India having majority of population of young adults (under age 30) and very adapt at using social media such as Facebook (India also has most people connected through mobile phones..), they can effectively expose these people who violate the child labor law (in the absence of Government enforcing laws due to lack of resources or whatever) and "Shame" them in the society, in addition to inducing fear of getting arrested. If Egypt can have their government toppled through this media, it won't be a far fetched idea to save these helpless children.

  196. The above comment is naive. A child servant's other option night be to sleep in a filthy gutter with little to eat, possibly be raped, or -- a better alternative, be found by a pimp and become a prostitute and at least have something to eat.
    We, in this richest country of all time, just don't have any idea how life goes in a poor country and how it used to be for many people in much of the past.

  197. How naive we are. We practice a cultural cannibalism. We take from cultures that which suits us and discard large elements of a culture. Because of yoga and the Beatles we created a fantasy about India. Of course we did the inverse for the Arab nations, we completely demonized them.

    The point is to look at cultural realities. Not to idealize and not to demonize. Yes, there is no culture, nation, race or religion with the monopoly on good, or evil.

  198. I agree with article that social attitude against servants, or anything else, is shaped by caste.

    But I am not sure about the widespread existence of live-in servants. When I was growing up in India, live-in servants was common. Now my parent living in a medium town is unable to find a domestic help. Part time help is available in plenty, but not the live-in servants that was so prevalent before. I assume in cities like Delhi, finding servants would be harder.

  199. Bottom line is lack of respect for fellow human beings and treating them with respect. Indian subculture and Hinduism is founded on the basis of disparity of human groups/caste system and it is a curse on India preventing it to realize its full potentials. Child labor abuse, inhuman abuses of poor and untouchables, rampant killing of minorities (muslims and christians) are very common place in Indian day to day life. Indians should be ashamed by reading this article.

  200. Hinduism is responsible for this? And it does not happen in Saudi and Pakistan and Egypt? This is a problem of a lack of developed sense of civil and human rights, you ignoramus!

  201. Things said are mostly true, but leave a very one-sided view. Firstly, having servants and lots of "assistant" jobs available is the very effective and mostly humane way for those who have money to help those with less. In a coutnry with so many people, it would be a huge disaster to do away with these types of work opportunity. Secondly is a thing that westerners cannot understand, and that is that MANY of the servant group are extremely happy and proud to be provided housing in a high class area rather than "cash." The housing almost always comes with food and other benefits not available otherwise and usually comes with housing for a ralative and often some free time to work for salary elsewhere. Often this arrangement is FAR FAR better than other opportunities available. PERHAPS most unfair in this discussion is how the so called servants have begun over the last few years (10's of years) to treat their employers. Today, in large cities of India it is extremely difficult to find an even partially honest home worker that will not steal from you, use all of your personal items, rudely interrupt personal converstaions, eat excessively of your food, take your clothes and other valuables, help friends to rob your home, and sometimes even carry on prostitution when you are out of the house. Servants in India used to be extremely honorable and dependable and were mostly treated extemely well. Today they are much less, so it is not a surprise that some are treated as less. .

  202. Are you kidding me? You mean the two doctors are the victims of the 13 year old locked in the apartment? I too would be happy to work for housing and food. Money is just capitalist fodder. I hope the NYTimes follows up on your story. These abuses of the wealthy by the dishonest poor must stop.

  203. We live as barbarously now as we did in the past but now even more human beings suffer. Your response sounds like those I heard as a child in the racist state of Georgia in the United States when I was a boy.

  204. So, you're saying that the real problem is that good help is hard to find these days? Imagine.

  205. Having stayed at and visited the homes of middle to upper middle class relatives in several visits to India over the last 30 years, I have seen domestic servants treated as both less than human (though not physically abused or starved) and as full-on family members. In all cases, though, their salaries are no more than 10% of a middle class salary. Here, domestic help, servers, valets, busboys, landscapers, etc. are treated just as badly by a small portion of the American population. The difference is that here we have minimal but reasonably well enforced labor laws. Even though you can get away with paying an American worker about half a basic living wage, in most cases he has protections against certain injustices like physical abuse, confinement and underpayment. I do think real government intervention is needed in India because the dehumanization is so institutionalized.

    But we need it here too. Case in point: the PROGRESSIVE view in America is that undocumented workers should be able to continue working in the shadows and living in squalor with no guaranteed wage or protections from abuse. It's a shame so many of the commenters on this board don't see the glaring hypocrisy of making broad moral judgments about the humanitarian records of other countries, or worse, the "inclinations" of specific ethnic groups.

  206. You raise several valid points, but I think there are some nuances that might explain some of the differences you note.

    One is the whole notion of forced child labor. It is just plain illegal here, and has been for about 100 years. Does it happen? Probably. Is it condoned? Absolutely not.

    A second is the tolerance for child labor in the general Indian populace that is absent here. Here, the intolerance is based on the age of the child, and the belief that they should be in school ( the basis for the child labor law).

    In india, the tolerance for the practice is based on the caste or origin of the child, and thus the age of the child is irrelevant and therefore it is acceptable. It's moral distinction that perhaps it's hard for Indian people to understand: there are poor people, and then there are poor children. In India, these groups are one; in the West, children are in a special category.

  207. I was amazed to see a tweleve year boy who was working in the Red Fort, New Delhi in presence of Indian Army. He was digging the soil to make a sidewalk, even I had taken a picture of him also. Later on, I saw a ten year old Kashmiri girl panhandling in the intersection of New Delhi street, she was barefooted, and the temperature was 110 degree Farenheit. Besides, the child labor there are thousands and thousands of slumdogs in New Delhi and Agra where the Taj Mahal is located, and forget about Mumbai and other Interior cities.
    India should do something about child labor as well as child panhandling, just by talking tall and making big claims it should do something precisely to get rid of its slumdogs.

  208. "The Intern. Labor Org. has found that India has 12.6 million laborers between the ages of 5 and 14, with roughly 20 percent working as domestic help. Other groups place the figure at 45 million or higher. Unicef has said India has more child laborers than any other country in the world," a shocking statistic. In India, the so-called middleclass who are actually the upper fifth of the people, and another 30-40%, consider most of the rest are subhuman, plain and simple. As Arundhati Roy rails and implicitly supports the Maoists’ cruel and ineffective methods of killing poor law-enforcement people, and other innocents, if things don’t change soon, modern India is likely to spawn an Indian Mao. Or, hopefully, an Indian Fidel, if and when such a charismatic leader rises!
    Maoists, instead, ought to make concerted efforts of just destroying mega mansions (after carefully emptying every human and animal inside) mega malls and imported mega luxury cars. I would wholeheartedly support if Maoists effectively undermines the blatant luxuries in modern India happening at the expense of hundreds of millions of poorest Indians – nearly half the children are undernourished, a third don’t have access to clean drinking water and about half don’t have access to decent toilets; Bangladesh with half the per capita purchasing power, is ahead of India in key human developments indices. That would have real, positive impact on the welfare of India as a whole.

  209. This problem has been in existence all along in India. This is not a recent phenomenon, yes the demand has gone up because more people are in the middle class and aspire to be upper middle class. the division of labor is so entrenched in the Indian psyche, that we do not even know if it is class or cast issue. an average Indian who aspire to look like an upper middle class will not go do any manual labor inside or outside a house, gardening, or cleaning etc etc.

    When I was growing up with in the campus of IIT(Delhi) a premier education institution, we had plenty of neighbors who had live in domestic servants who were probably indentured. alomost slaves. nobody complained about them, non or the professors made a big deal about them. we were told to just look away. this particular house had an immigrant Bangladeshi girl who came in when she was probably 6 or 7 and worked from 5am to 11pm non stop. that house was hand wiped clean twice a day, their cement floors looked like mirrors all at the expense of this girl who looked like a 50 year old woman by the time she was 25, all stooped and wrinkled and shriveled up. She spoke only Bangla, did not ever learn Hindi which is spoken in Delhi, never went home to visit, and if my memory is not that far off, tried to run away a few times before they finally gave up and took her back. I have no idea where she went, what happened of her. Bad Karma, haunted that family for ever. no more shall be said:(

  210. Fascinating comments decrying slavery from readers who are no doubt shoppers at Wal-Mart (85% of Americans are), users of iPhones and iPads, and buyers of Chinese made toys. Just because our slaves are unseen, toiling in sweatshops on the other side of the planet does not mean they do not exist. Wasn't it easier for us to discredit Daisey on a technicality than face up to the truth of sweatshop conditions? Hypocrisy, thy name is consumer.

  211. “Her uncle sold her” to an agency that in turn “sold” her to this couple. I would think it is at this point the story needs to focus. Child labor laws? Who cares. That really isn’t the problem. How did the uncle get a hold of the girl from her parents? Can we assume the parents were in on the deal.
    If you have a systemic problem of parents willingly selling their children, regardless of the reason, then the laws aren’t going to help much.
    As in all of nature, the human species is dependent on parents’ decisions for the welfare of their young. From birds to reptiles to mammals to everything. Whether that means it’s time to get a worm to feed your chick or finding a muddy place to lay your eggs. Whatever the need may be. I don’t believe there are such cases in nature where the parents just abrogate this innate duty so readily as humans.
    This most basic of instincts seems to be wearing away in the species and that includes here in America where children maybe aren’t sold but where some government agency has to take over for the parents because of drugs or neglect or any number of reasons. This story is just a little more extreme then we find here.

  212. While many of us in the West condemn these practices and feel superior, I have seen first hand how we sink to the same level given the opportunity. Western expats living in luxury in the highrises of Mumbai treat their servants just as poorly as their Indian peers.

    One particular case was so horrible I couldn't help but say something to our hosts, despite the awkwardness of doing so. The American family occupied the entire floor of one of these luxury buildings. The apartment was lavish beyond anything this family could have afforded back home, airconditioned, furnished, and simply vast; except. of course, the hole in the wall behind the refrigerator where the live in servant girl slept on a tiny bed that filled the whole space. The heat and humidity was stifling and it had a choking nasty stench.

    When I asked why, with all the wonderful cool space in that vast apartment, which they didn't even use, did they force their servant into such a horrible hole, the wife blithely replied that the servant girl didn't mind it, she was used to it, and would have felt uncomfortable with more comfort.

    I think, given the opportunity and time to acquire the taste for oppulent living at someone elses expense there are many of us here in the West who would be just as blind to the suffering of those who serve us.

    Just wait until the 99% have no other option than to serve the lucky 1%. Judging from what I've seen, there won't be much difference.

  213. I've traveled to over 25 countries, including almost a month in India, and was shocked by people's insensitivity to other human beings. The treatment of the poor and lower castes there is beyond comprehension. The hierarchical caste system is so deeply ingrained in their ancient collective consciousness, it will take a long time and lot of work to change it. If they want to.

    Also, it becomes true that truly excessive levels of population create a lack of concern for others and hardheartedness.

  214. I'm sure working as a servant is much better than living in a shack made of cow dung or living in the gutter with no house at all as millions of Indians do. This is a country with a corrupt government and mind-set that is run by those with money who look after their own interest. This is an extreme Republican-like environment that won’t change until the cheap-goods-hungry world stops fueling its engines. It always is the children who suffer the most. Perhaps China’s one-child law does not appear so harsh when reflected against the situation in India.

  215. The dire situation for the poor in India is a result of hundreds of years of the deeply ingrained caste system. Despite efforts by the government to reform it, the caste system is still widely accepted and even embraced by the Indian people. It is OK to treat poor people like dirt. This is India today.

  216. Quick correction, India's middle class has always been "flabby and indolent"

    As an Indian, I'm troubled about the perpetual inequity in our nation, but hopeful that the world's largest democracy (not just in terms of the middle class girth) will soon realize that each of its citizens is inherently worthy of dignity and respect.

  217. A new production of Great Expectations is on PBS. The treatment of children (Oliver Twist) in Dicken novels reminds me in many ways of this poor girls story. 21st century India sounds a great deal like 19th century England.

  218. India has the very best and very worst of everything. The very worst is the caste system which persists, no matter what, and for me that says it all. The spiritual heritage of India is sublime, and its art and architecture and literature are amazing, the zillion star hotels are the best anywhere, the rich there live lives of super luxury; but socially, it's really devastating. I lived there for a while and after initially being amazed, after some time I was so ready to come back to the west. Strange country. The caste system is terrible.

  219. Western Europe and the United States treated children pretty badly during our industrialization process (Dickens anyone?) So hopefully as India and China and Brazil become richer, people will have fewer children and take better care of the ones they do have. I do hope we don't have to wait that long, but it seems part of the development pattern in capitalism ...

  220. The act of locking a child in and leaving the country is a crime. Period.

    If the girl was a live-in maid or your neighbors child or your own child is besides the issue. By associating such a horrendous crime with child labor and house help, in general, only dampens the extent of the crime. Let us stop such crime by punishing the couple appropriately.

    It is hard to catch every criminal. But when caught, the punishment must be severe enough. This is the only way to enforce law, when proactive law enforcement is nearimpossible.

  221. To all those indulging in self-righteous indignation, who picks your fruits? Who assembles your iphones?

    Not claiming the problem does not exist in India; it's real, especially in Northern India (and amongst people from north India in general), but it is far from being universal as the article suggests. Many families, including ours, treat their doemstic help with respect by providing them with good food, free education, and time off. The domestic help in my family have all grown up to be independant members of the society.

    Sanjiv

  222. I doubt if all India is upset. It is the US and Indian media making moral judgements for the rest of us. The issue may be in need of correcting and that is all. Now the media wants to tell the world what it should be doing, not just reporting.

  223. This article ruttled me to the core .Exploiting children is wicked whether it is taken place in India or any other country. Anyone who does mistreat a child servent who is defensless to begin with is wretched. No society should allow a child to be exploited and if they do they should be severy punished.

  224. Between their intractable caste system and their decripit infrasture, on which the poorest of the poor depend, and of which we regularly hear about catastrophes involving unbelievable numbers of fatalities - India, despite 5 star hotels for foreign visitors, will forever be the third world.

    But let's send all our jobs there so "lower middle class" folks, who feel superior to those of a darker skin tone, can hire children of the poorest - that they walk over in the streets -
    to clean their toilets.

    What a pit.

  225. Seems that an armchair journalist is editing the "NYT Picks" here- the comments are a mish-mash of third world conspiracies and dangerous generalizations- all caused by this sensationalistic article. There are 3 critical but very different issues that are being paraded as one-

    * Called maids or help in the States and in Southeast Asia, it is referred to by its un-PC British historical name "servants" in India. Please spare us the moral indignity on the concept of household help . People in mine and other families have supported the extended families of help with shelter, education and marriage expenses. This article could have presented a cross-section of instances.

    * The concept of household help exists internationally. Labor is known to cross city state and international boundaries in search for employment. Some families treat help well. Some dont. Cover a cross-section; why single out worst cases in India?

    * The appropriate minimum age for labor differs by country. In the absence of educational opportunities, a society has to decide what other appropriate economic and social support systems need to be made accessible to economically challenged children and families. "Let them eat cake till they are 18" does not help.

  226. I'm from Delhi.
    In response to your assertion that many Indians treat their servants well: This may be true, but there's nothing to ensure it. The lack of legal enforcement makes it too easy for employers to abuse their employees, especially since the abuse takes place in the privacy of the home.
    In response to your question, "why single out worst cases in India?": Because India is among the worst offenders. Anyway, it's not the job of a news agency to qualify each of its stories by discussing the issue in its broad, global context. This is a newspaper article, not an academic dissertation.
    In response to your assertion that a paucity of educational opportunity makes child labor good/necessary: This sad fact makes it brilliantly clear that the country as a whole needs to focus on getting kids in school. And to correct you, because India has affirmative action policies and excellent scholarships for people of low caste birth, these people might actually have a shot at a better life if they can get to school in their childhood. Sorry, but you're not doing anyone a favor by employing child laborers. That's like saying that sweatshops are OK because they provide work opportunities. They also deprive people of opportunities---and dignity.
    Equal opportunities are meaningless unless they're offered early in life. We can't depend on the goodwill of individual families to provide decent a decent living wage, which (I might remind you) is just the bare minimum.

  227. Live-in servants are much more vulnerable to exploitation since they most likely do not have families or any other sort of support nearby. Most maidservants do not live with their employers unless the employers are quite rich. The majority of middle class folks in India cannot afford live-in servants and the servants are not uniformly ill treated. In many households the servant has become an indispensable part of life and most do know that. Wages for servants are going through the roof. Sadly, this has resulted in young children being put to work in greater numbers. I grew up in a small suburb of Chennai and through my school and college years we had as servants an illiterate woman from the nearby slum and her 3 daughters. Her husband was an alcoholic and doing a maidservant's job was the only way for the family to keep a roof over their heads. Apart from paying their wages, my parents took them to the doctor when they fell sick, bought them gifts for festivals and contributed what they could when each of the daughters got married. I think their lives were made better by working for my family. In a perfect world they would have all attended schools and had better living conditions. But India with its lack of a social net and population pressures is a long way away from what we see in the US and will always be different. While more awareness, compassion and justice are needed in India, it does not deserve the wholesale condemnation I see in some of the comments here.

  228. Please consider the flip side of the story before rushing to judgement about the prevalence of using young domestic help in India. There is an interesting blogpost by Chetan Bhagat, a famous author in India whose books have been made into blockbuster movies, re the treatment of domestic help in India. http://www.chetanbhagat.com/blog/2011/10/
    His blog provides a snapshot of the symbiotic relationship that can occur when employers treat household help with humanity and dignity. I grew up in such a household in New Delhi. We had the same household helper from the time my brother was born to the time he turned 12. We not only educated and taught this man, who became like a family member to us, to drive (leading to a lucrative second career for him when he left our home), but my parents paid for his medical treatment and supported him through the entire year when he contracted tuberculosis, a potentially deadly diagnosis in India with plenty of social stigma associated with it. Eventually, his whole family would come live with us, and my mother paid to send his young daughter to school. In the face of lack of government infrastructure for the poor in India, it is the compassionate families in the Indian middle class who often provide a safety net for the truly indigent. Inhumane treatment described in this article should be severely punished and stigmatized, but that does not take away the great economic and human needs on both sides of this household arrangement.

  229. A wealthy, westernized family I once visited in India had a 13-year-old maid, (along with several other, adult servants) whom they said they had taken in at the family's behest. The maid's family lived in a single-room shack in a slum in Mumbai, and worried for the girl's chastity (and hence mariagability.) The girl worked intermittently through the day in light labor (serving meals and snacks, cleaning up the kitchen) and was treated kindly by the family, who allowed her to watch TV when her work was done. She did not attend school. Like nearly all Inidian servants, she ate apart from the family. I truly believe she was better off in this circumstance, which was felt to be a place of safe-keeping until she was of marriagable age. The tragedy is the circumstances which made this her best option.

  230. When the topic of Child exploitation rises, the West often looks away from itself. Consider the Child actors in the Oscar winning film "Slumdog Millioniare" and yet no one chased down the films Western producers or Western Stars to make it right for the films child stars from India's slums.

    Or why does it take the recognition of criminality of a wealthy couple to realize this exists. Any traveler or reporter in India can see these conditions daily.

    There is the lost potential of these children as exhibited in the video of this brilliant little boy. Nearly 200,000 have watched and while people are "touched" and "saddened" virtually none followed the link to give any real help.
    Amazing Interview In India with a boy from the streets ~ Beyond Slumdog Millioniare
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqXYS1tG5yU

    In the West, poverty is often relative to the neighborhood...
    This is what poverty is like for millions of children on their own around the world and worse than this
    Dance to Survive
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POSKOASN31o

    I was a simple tourist when I came across this footage... With media resources, this story is more than just a potentially criminal rich coulple, this is about the loss of future potential for the world.

  231. I notice that there are many barely hidden racist comments about India as a whole here. It is doubtful that such comments would pass the moderator test if they were about other races and nations. For example, comments such as "Indians do not like their own children", or "Indian psyche is to kick low class people", or "Hinduism today is nothing more than sanctimonious nonsense spouted by bearded sex-addicts, sociopaths" and so on. None f these comments limited themselves to a few people, but generalized to a nation of 1.2 billion. Never mind where these guys got such profound insight and knowledge about such a large mass of people; the government of India is barely able to provide an accurate census, but these posters know so much about the inner minds of a billion people.

    Substitute Indians for black people, Africans, or some other region/nation, and Hinduism for Islam or Christianity, and there is no way it would be published here, and every one would jump such over-generalization. But for now, it is still acceptable and even fashionable to post these kinds of over the top, and barbaric comments.

  232. I have first hand experience after living for seven years in Hong Kong and SIngapore as the wife of a U.P.S. expatriate who I divorced and left in Singapore as he became accustomed to the Royal treatment and prostitution services that are legal. In Singapore there are areas with window fronts with beautiful women posing to entice you to pick them. It's legal, they are in your grocery store (Cold storage) not addicts, only able to make $400 U.S. month in the normal work world. All over Asia, prostitution is legal. Obvious to everyone who does not close their eyes to this.

    Maids (Amahs) are Filipinas, getting paid $300 U.S. dollars to be your slave. Take care of your kids, cook and serve meals, clean your house. They (80%) are corrupted as they need to make as much money as possible to take care of their families at home. You tell yourself that they are sweet loving people with your children, but actually they were never allowed to be children. Put into the rice fields at seven years old. Sent to Hong Kong to take care of their families at home. They are corrupt, will steal from you, sleep with your husband, blackmail your children and your husband after he uses her for sexual pleasures when you aren't around. The children then learn to blackmail the Amah (loving person) as teenagers. If you tell my parents I had wild parties I will say you molested me or stole my jewelry. Sunday they are prostitutes at the ferry.

  233. The world lambasts Americans for wasting wealth on the housing boom. That crisis, with all of it's human victims, isn't going to be anything compared to the atrocities that come from China and India's burgeoning wealth. People think China and India are harder working and more deserving of the planet's future when the reality is these countries have tastes that make America's Wall Street crimes look like child's play...the major difference is that entire populations are willing to participate in the sickness knowingly. Restaurants in China are paying gangs to steal domesticated purebred dogs to be tortured, burnt with a butane torch, and skinned alive...believing that if the once gently treated animal dies in pain and fear the meat tastes better. India beats, tortures, sells and enslaves poor children. America deserves much of what it has coming, but I shudder to think of the future of the planet directed by India and China.

  234. The communist countries, such as China, do not allow slave labor. Their governments insist that children be educated. How can we praise or support a country such as India when children are treated this way? Why do we vilify China and Cuba? It would seem that their governments educate their children and they also provide them with health care. Talk about freedom. Is anyone who cannot read truly free?

  235. You should change your sub-heading to be more accurate: "Affluent Indians demand for CHEAP domestic workers." I lived in India for 3 years. It was repulsive the way uber-rich Indians living in virtual castles would take advantage of supply and demand as well as disorganization and ignorance (why does the proletariat need labor unions?) to pay children and other usally "outcaste" Dalit women and men from 33cents to one dollar a day (when the cheapest restaurant meal was about 33 cents) to work like dogs. The family I lived with who were middle class and had a young Dalit servant who wore the most tattered dirty clothes, would even give her spoiled left over food, as if they were being kind. Then everyone goes to the Hindu temple on Fri Night, and once a year, on a death anniversary pays for a "poor feeding" at the local temple to assuage their conscience and gain merit. Good thing young western educated Indians are slowly importing the notion of social conscience from the West. I hope it sticks.

  236. The other problem with most of these comments is that most of the posters are almost clueless about India, or have pre-conceived and prejudiced opinions from some prior experiences, and posting on a whole bunch of topics including caste, Indian psyche, attitude of Indians towards children, Hinduism, etc. Nevermind that these are all very complex topics or that one needs to have a lot of sensitivity and understanding of foreign cultures before making grand pronouncements. Most importantly, that we should not be making over the top generalizations.

    It is one thing to be making insightful comments about the topic here, namely cases of barbaric treatment meted out to some children in India, under the pretense of house help. I dont know who out here is supporting any such thing. On that topic, perhaps everyone is in agreement.

    It is an entirely different matter to use this case, and extrapolate to some thing, and then make a completely random and very much generalized pronouncement such as "indians do not value their children", "Hinduism today is nothing more than sanctimonious nonsense spouted by bearded sex-addicts, sociopaths" etc. How such comments belong in any public chat board, moderated that too, is beyond me.

    Finally, we here in America are enormously lucky to be the wealthiest society on the planet. That MAY imply we have some responsibility to help less fortunate ones, but definitely does not say we get smug and mock other nation and their peoples as barbarians.

  237. At least 140 to 150,000,000 people in India live in Slavery. They are the Untouchables or Dalits. This is the centuries old Hindu Caste System and one reason why it was setup and still runs is to provide this lower caste of people to exploit.
    Anyone born Untouchable or Dalit is subject to the whims of all in the castes above them. It is a sort of ownership in common situation where no one actually owns anyone except in cases like this where wealth allows actual purchase of a person
    The entire caste is only allowed to do certain jobs, always menial, or unneccesarily deameaning like cleaning out latrine pits and cesspools with their bare hands, which they often get no pay for. They are subject to rape and murder with near impunity and any other abuses almost anyone decides to inflict on them.
    They have to live separately and if they pass through a village of higher caste people they have to remove their shoes and walk barefoot until they pass through. It doesn't matter what the weather or ground is like. This also applies to riding a bike, they have to get off, remove their shoes and walk through.
    There are laws against it but they are only symbolic. The upper castes think themselves superior and see nothing wrong in what they are doing. You can see this in the enabling posts here that assert charity & willingness or gratitude of the vic.
    If a Dalit reports a crime the police usually tell the perp about it and abuse them to boot. People go missing. look it up its real.

  238. This article is not balanced, sorry to say. I grew up in Kenya, lived most of my adult life in the US, and have now been living as an expat in South Africa, so I know all about domestic workers because I was raised by them and I now have them helping me raise my kids. Life for the middle class and elite in Africa is no different than for those in countries such as India or even Saudia Arabia and other parts of the middle East. There's a lot of grey areas and these people are not always victims as they are portrayed here to be. Firstly, it's job provision. Without gardeners, domestic workers and drivers, crime would be at a maximum because of the level of idlers. It costs you so little per month that it makes no sense to not have the help; it allows you a better quality of life, so everyone is happy! Secondly, abuse is quite rare; I haven't seen it in my 35 years. Wages may be low, but most governments give a minimum requirement for what should be paid by law. Even when an employer is not paying the minimum requirement, domestic workers are still getting food and accommodation. I've not encountered a child laborer, I can assure you that as long as there's no abuse, any child living in the levels of poverty seen here would die for a job in a posh home where she's given free food, accommodation and a wage. Life in developing countries is not what it is in Western countries and until you've seen it, it's very difficult to understand the whole concept of it.

  239. These doctors have very clearly demonstrated that they do not have any understanding of one of the basic tenets of medicine - to do no harm. At the very least they should have their medical licenses taken away.

  240. I don't know what's worse, the story or all of these readers who have probably never left Peoria and who feel they have the right to comment on an incredibly complex and textured issue. Sorry, but life isn't as simple as "these people are primitive and need to do X to be more like us"