#India – Five steps to becoming a successful spot-fixer !


Rajyasree Sen

I’m neither Chetan Bhagat, nor am I Hansie Cronje, but here’s my five-point plan on how to be a successful spot-fixer and not get caught.
1. Communication is key.  What is with this Chandila and Chawan? Who discusses which ball you’re going to drop over the hotel phone? Buy an iPhone and Face Time with each other.
Not only will nobody be able to track your scheming conversations, you’ll also get to see each other’s cheating faces. It’s also way more cosy than those strange stilted chats. Did Rajat Gupta and Rajaratnam not teach you anything? Oh sorry, to learn anything from them you’d need to read the newspapers and do something beyond throwing lavish parties.

Sreesanth and his cronies' spot-fixing modus operandi leaves a lot to be desired! AFP

Sreesanth and his cronies’ spot-fixing modus operandi leaves a lot to be desired! AFP

2. Diaries are a no-no.  If you must record what payments are going to come your way and keep accounts, must you use a diary? That too, one with bilingual entries. Get with the times. Start a fake Gmail id. With that id, create a Google doc. Use these Google docs to tabulate and record your earnings. Basically, keep it simple because you’re stupid.

3What kind of idiot deposits money from illegal transactions in his bank? Frankly, if you do that you should be jailed. For being an imbecile.  Instead, use the cash – since it’s hardly a fortune by cricketing standards or even by Delhi-standards – to make ticket/hotel/clothes purchases. Spend the cash, you fool. Don’t collect it for a rainy day.
And definitely don’t collect it in your own bank account. Or ask for payment in cash. Maybe a gold brick? It is Sunil Dubai after all. His bathroom must be lined with gold bricks. Or tell them to send diamond earrings for your mum.  Nothing says “I care” as much as gifts from the Dubai underworld. Be creative. It’s not that difficult.
4. Don’t forget to signal the bookie. Now this is of key importance. Even if your IQ is 25 or running in single figures, signal your bookie that you’re going to drop that over. What’s the point of giving 14 runs on an over, if no one pays you for it?  And forget no one paying for it, because you’re a super imbecile and have struck an idiot deal, you end up paying the bookie. Doesn’t that just make you feel like an arse? Do you really want someone called Sunil Dubai to be mocking you at his next spot-fixer’s reunion party? The answer is, no. So keep a beeper on your watch which reminds ye-of-little-brain of the fact that big brother is watching and you have to twist that wristband now.
5. Grow some balls. At least hold your own for more than 30 minutes before singing like a canary. Nobody likes a crook who gives up so easily. And keep in mind, this is the Delhi police. Not known for their great investigative skills.  Sulking, bawling and then spilling the beans are recipes for disaster. Not only is your cricketing career over, you’re not going to win any brownie points with your fixer friends.
Take a leaf out of Monica Bedi’s book. She stuck to her guns and kept repeating that she didn’t know anything about Abu Salem’s dealings. If you do that, even you’ll get to dance inNach Baliye. Nobody likes a crybaby. Really.


A pecking order falls #sundayreading

Author(s): Garga Chatterjee, DOWN TO EARTH
Date: Dec 15, 2012

The veil of civilisation and Hurricane Sandy

Garga ChatterjeeGarga Chatterjee

We live in a world filled with theories of human nature, or more correctly, theories of human nature that explain differences between people. Such theories have a wide ranging currency and explain differences between people in things as varied as poverty, labour efficiency, honesty, graciousness, violence (or lack thereof), scientific progress, cleanliness of streets, alcoholism, sexual prowess and what not. The power of these theories are in that they set the agenda, around which we create our perceptions of ourselves and others, our assessment of the present, our hopes for the future, our aspirations and desires.

This is why it is important we take such “human nature” theories seriously and critically, for they define our present and limit our future. The cold-blooded violence of the Taliban, the simplicity of Chhattisgarh adivasis, the mathematical ability of Tamil brahmins, the ability of German companies to build precision instruments, the courteousness (“How are you doing?”) of a white bus driver in Boston, the sense of justice of the British, the spirit of entrepreneurship of immigrant Europeans in North America, the dapper look of a New York police officer, the sense of duty, discipline and punctuality that is apparently absent among brown folks—this long list is only a small set of qualities that are attributed to the intrinsic nature of a group of people. The Pashtun are prone to gratuitous violence “by nature”. The other examples I cite also have this quality of being explained by the nature of the people, an ethnic-quality, so to say, that specially marks them out, for good or for bad.

This way of explaining away differences between people not only obfuscates strands of commonality between them but also works against initiatives of transformation of societies from within (Pashtun women cannot “save” themselves and Pashtun men cannot have any role in such an initiative). Such ideas also make us permanent prisoners of an inferiority complex (lazy, dishonest, unclean brown men)—piecemeal personal liberation coming through some kind of an internal theorising that one is among the very few with the “wrong” skin but the “right” nature.

Our world has this organisation, this “civilisational” pecking order of sorts, which manages to encroach upon our innermost subjectivities, deeply colouring our attitudes and aspirations. It even warps our sense of aesthetics, so much so that we cannot even make ourselves dislike what we may know to be bad. For example, my modern urban aesthetic can only imagine beauty in concrete while I know that paving the ground makes rainwater run off, causing water tables to drop. The alternatives, soil, dust, clay, have lost all aesthetic appeal, irrespective of my public posturing. This crisis has multiple far-reaching implications—environmental effects are only one of them.

imageIllustration: Vaibhav Raghunandan

It is not easy to see the world bare naked, without the ideological veil of the civilisational pecking order, especially when it has been naturalised. Rare are the moments when the veil is lifted. It is the witnessing of such rare moments that helps one unlearn, cleanse oneself off handed-down ideologies and breathe easy. And here comes the story of the hurricane. For nature in itself (not our perception of nature) has not been brainwashed.

Because it has not been brainwashed, it can be irreverent, indiscriminate. It can lash Haiti’s coastline and lower Manhattan in similar ways and in one stroke can be the great equaliser when dehumanised Haitians and refined New Yorkers, the “animal” and the “ideal”, both are frightened and shiver. Rare are these moments when layer upon layer of ideology, constructed over centuries, can be briefly peeled back to show what is generally concealed by the apparent disparities between the garbage-scavenger of Mumbai and the iPhone-toting yuppie New Yorker. The approaching Hurricane Sandy caused panic. People tried to stock up on water and food. There were fistfights to buy water.

There was no queue. There was no “discipline”. There was no “West”. There is no “West” without surplus—the genie that bankrolls the breathing space between mere survival and the life of consumer dignity.

A friend from New Jersey called. There was no electricity. “What’s the correct way to wash clothes without the machine? You are from India, you know right!” Alas, I am from elite Kolkata, but I knew by seeing. Put water, put clothes, put soap. He said, “and then spin by hand?” He wanted to mimic the machine. With the power gone, the powerlessness showed. Notions of differential “progress” due to difference in “intrinsic” nature become dubious in such circumstances.

Of course, electricity gets restored. But to look at your belief system being battered by a hurricane is not easy.

It is not easy to see unclean public lavatories that you thought you had left behind in the tropics. Just one day of a Hurricane blessed holiday of the underclass janitors is enough to create a stench that one has learned to associate with some and not with some. In the gullet of Manhattan, from where the Empire State Building cannot be seen, pecking orders briefly collapse. They collapse without hurricanes too, on a daily basis, between the rounds that the janitor makes, in the obnoxious splatters in lavatories of Michelin starred restaurants, in the toilets left unflushed in the most exclusive of hotels. The frequent restroom cleaning keeps the ideological veneer on for us to aspire and be awed. Cleanliness is next to godliness. Surplus makes near-godliness achievable on this earth.

For a significant part of the year I live in a locality of Kolkata. This is also where I grew up—a distinctly “down-market” area called Chetla. People often wear lungis on streets and near the railway bridge, there are lumps of human excreta on the roadside every morning. As I stroll down the manicured streets of Boston, a dirty thought emerges. If the surplus were to evaporate, would the sauve Bostonian come to resemble my people from Chetla? How would the sidewalks of Massachusetts Avenue look early in the morning? Would the air still be filled with the nauseatingly high number of “Thank yous” , “Sorrys” and “Excuse mes” I say and hear every day? Would this veneer of gracefulness, thankfulness, personal space, yoga retreats and wine-tastings still mesmerise? What does it take to lift the veil? The ease of unravelling might hold better clues to our commonalities and differences than ideologies of progress and development.

Hurricanes can only pull out a couple of such veils, that too very briefly. Meanwhile, in other parts of global urbania that are playing catch-up, elaborate mechanisms of creating lavatories and frequently cleaning them are being finalised. However, they do not have the advantage of acquiring shipfuls of humans from Senegal. Their dreams of creating a “world-class” Delhi need more than a few fingers of Katam Suresh of Gompad, Chattisgarh. One needs many Chhattisgarhs, millions of fingers to adorn the necks of thousands of unreformed “Angulimalas”. To “naturally” fit into the class of connoisseurs of “Belgian” chocolate, one needs to be better than King Leopold. King Leopold of Belgium. Google him. Léopold Louis Philippe Marie Victor. Even their names sound better between hurricanes.

Garga Chatterjee is a columnist and fellow at MIT Boston in the US


Cyber-Safety Savants Say Less is Best Online

By Mitzi Perdue

WeNews correspondent

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cybercriminals may be “spear phishing” your Facebook or Twitter account. A gorgeous PowerPoint attachment may harbor a malicious program. Women are more vulnerable to online security breaches, so here are a few words from the Web-wise.

(WOMENSENEWS) — “Celebrating my birthday tonight at Alfredo’s!”

If a woman posted that on her Facebook page it would worry MIT-trained cryptographer Mark Herschberg.

“Your Facebook/Twitter status and photos say a lot about you,” says the New York-based cybersecurity expert. “A determined person may already have found out that you’re a woman, learned where you live and whether you live alone. With that post, the bad guy now knows that you’re not home. That post could set you up for a robbery or even a physical attack.”

While the dangers of a physical attack are not large, Herschberg says it’s prudent to remain cautious and minimize the risk. Not only that, Herschberg adds that with such a Facebook status update, “the bad guy now knows it’s your birthday, and if he’s a determined cybercriminal, this could help him hack your identity.”

But do you really need to worry if you keep your Twitter and Facebook accounts private?

Herschberg’s answer: “Even if you have your privacy settings set to friends of friends, some of those friends might be easygoing and accept all friend requests, and now you have a hole in your security. Cybercriminals are out there, looking to exploit those kinds of holes.”

A big part of cybercrime is identity theft, which allows criminals to get information about your “secure” online accounts and either withdraw money from your bank or run up charges on your credit accounts.

Identity theft is a serious hazard for everyone, but it’s particularly costly for women. Seventeen percent of female identity theft victims have lost $1,000 or more due to the crime, versus 10 percent of males, according to the Affinion Security Center, based in Stamford, Conn.

Spear Phishing Pointers

Herschberg also warns about “spear phishing,” a new tactic used by cybercriminals to exploit your social media information against you.

Unlike traditional spam or phishing, which sends messages to a broad number of people, spear phishing is highly targeted at you. A sender may impersonate a friend or colleague and send a message based on details gleaned from your social media accounts. The message may invite you to a conference on a topic that interests you, or ask you to check out a report on a topic they’ve learned is important to you.

The goal is to trick you into clicking on an infectious attachment or visit a malicious website so the cybercriminals can get sensitive information such as passwords. If this happens, Herschberg recommends contacting your friend or associate to ask if they really did send the e-mail.

Jody Westby heads Global Cyber Risk, a cybersecurity company in Washington, D.C. Since women are often the ones to discuss safety with their children, she says it’s important not to forget talking about online privacy as part of this discussion.

“Today children need to know not to give out their full name, or where they go to school, or their phone number when online unless they know the person,” she says.

Brian Krebs, an Internet security journalist in Washington, D.C., says to also beware of financial risks lurking in sudden, strange messages. “A hallmark of a malicious program is they try to get you to act quickly,” he says. For example, “Your credit card has expired. Click this link immediately or we will cancel your account.”

Krebs recommends, “If you get an e-mail that purports to be from your bank and asks for information, or asks you to click a link and log in, it is very often a scam or a trap. If you have questions about whether one of these e-mails addresses a real problem, call your financial institution. Do not reply to the message or take any other action!”

Pause First

It’s never a good idea to respond to spam, but if it comes from your friend or family, it can be tricky. It might be real or it might mean an account was just hacked.

So pause when you get e-mails that seem to come from a friend or relative or co-worker with short messages like, “Hey, check out this movie I saw, it’s really funny,” or “OMG! There’s a video of you posted online that’s awful!” or “Check out the attached file!”

Like Herschberg, Krebs recommends writing back and asking, “Did you send this?”

Krebs predicts that in a disconcerting number of cases, the intent of the message wasn’t at all friendly.

He also cautions against forwarding chain letters of the sort that tell you something wonderful will happen if you send it to 10 of your friends. Chain letters are often generated by spammers as an exceptionally effective way for them to harvest current addresses. The chain letters are carefully worded to touch your heartstrings or religious beliefs, but don’t forward them unless you’re wishing more spam on yourself and your friends.

Chain letters that have PowerPoint presentations of, for example, irresistibly beautiful scenes from China or scantily clad women from Russia, may have malicious programs hidden behind them that can take control of your computer.

Almost everyone in cybersecurity says to exercise extreme caution when opening attachments or clicking links. As Krebs says, “It may be good for instant gratification, but it can also be good for an instant bad day.”

Additional Advice

1. Change your passwords every 90 to 180 days.

2. Don’t use the same password for different accounts. If someone is able to crack one password, you don’t want him or her to be able to attack all your accounts.

3. Choose passwords that have a combination of numbers and upper and lower case letters. (One lady at the Fifth Avenue Apple Store in Manhattan uses the address of her dog’s vet preceded by her first boyfriend’s initials, so it comes out something like this: BAF348W94th. Three months later, she’ll change it to her dentist’s address and still later, she’ll use the address of a local restaurant.)

4. Be careful about using passwords on public computers, which could have spyware or key loggers installed on them.

5. Keep all your software up to date, especially JAVA, which is a vector for malware.

6. If you have an iPhone or an iPad, activate their password protection. There are thieves in major cities who specialize in targeting people with iPhones or iPads in order to harvest information to sell to identity thieves.

Assuming you have virus protection software, you’re part way to cybersecurity, but your computer with software protection is like a castle surrounded by a mote. The software can protect you, but not if you lower the drawbridge and open the castle gate.

Safe Pregnancy and Birth mobile app now available for Android phones #Mothersday

In honor of Mother’s Day, we’re proud to announce that our Safe Pregnancy and Birth mobile app is now available for free as a beta release for Android phonesClick here to download it now from the Google Play app store.
  In January, we released our app for iPhones; click here to download it from the Apple store.
If you don’t have an Android or iPhone, you can preview the app here.
Our app is the only comprehensive app on pregnancy and birth developed specifically for low-resource settings. Life-saving information is presented in clear, accessible language rich with illustrations, and an intuitive and friendly navigation—perfect for working with community health workers or midwives with varied literacy levels.  As always, we welcome your feedback.
Hesperian’s other women’s health resources are available in English and Spanish in our bookstore and in our new HealthWiki digital format.
Honor your mother with a Gift of Health

Give a Gift of Health on Mother’s Day. Click here to send free copies of Hesperian health guides to mothers and midwives who cannot afford to buy them.  Include your mother’s e-mail address and we will send her an e-card notifying her of your gift! For mothers who prefer regular mail, let us know by Wednesday, May 9th, and we will send her an illustrated card.

Empowering Mayan midwives in rural Belize

May 7, 2012

I went to Punta Gorda, Belize Central America to train Mayan women to deliver babies in their communities using Hesperian’s A Book for Midwives. Punta Gorda is a town in the southernmost part of Belize with a small hospital. Around the town are numerous Mayan villages. There is a bus service that goes two days a week to most of the villages, but for obvious reasons that is not a reliable way to get to medical help when a woman is in labor. Some of the villages might have one person who owned a truck and they soon became tired of being asked to transport people to town. They were especially leery of women in labor who might deliver in route and make a bloody mess in the process!

The 14 women who attended my training were selected by going to each village and holding meetings. This process took several trips. The first to see if there was an interest and try to set a date and time to return and hold the meeting. The next to actually hold the meeting and then another to follow up. That is if everything went smoothly, which of course was not always the case. In some villages one woman was selected and in others two and in others none. I wanted the women to do the selecting themselves. The midwives would serve their village and I wanted to empower the women by allowing them to decide who they wanted to be trained. Each village ultimately handled this process a little differently. Some wanted men and women to attend the meeting. Some already had selected someone when I returned to meet with them. The village of Jalacte had an especially large turnout and was the only village to hold an election were each women cast a ballot. In the end I had 14 woman who wanted to be in the midwife training.

I started with the first chapter of A Book for Midwives and worked my way through the book. Most of the women in the class were not midwives but wanted to learn. A few had helped at a small number of births. Alfonza, the oldest in the group, had been to lots of births but was afraid to say so at first not knowing if she might get into trouble. As time went on I gained her confidence and we became fast friends. I especially liked it when she would contribute to the discussion and it would be something that we both had experienced at a birth.

I often made comments such as, “This is what I was taught” or “This is what I have seen,” then I would ask if they had a different way of doing it or a different understanding. I felt like it was important to not make the women feel like I thought I was smarter or better than them. I think that this was a good approach and that the women opened up to me and trusted me.

In this part of the world, women are not given a lot of power. Many of them were not used to making decisions for themselves. They were often told what to do by their husbands and people in power. I found the chapters on step-by-step thinking, intuition, creativity and thinking about risks and benefits to be very helpful in teaching them to make decisions.

Many of the women had very little understanding about how their bodies work and how things look on the inside, so the chapters that covered those subjects were also very valuable.

In addition to class room time, I set up a schedule to go to each village and do prenatal checkups with the students and the pregnant women of the village. When I arrived for the first prenatal in the village of San Pedro I was met by two of my students who came running to my jeep waving their arms and shooting, “She is in labor, she is in labor, come quick!” We proceeded to the home of one of the women who we were supposed to be doing a prenatal exam on and sure enough, she was in good strong labor. Instead of a lesson in prenatal care, we had a lesson in childbirth! She delivered a healthy baby boy a few hours later to everyone’s delight.

At our next day of class all the women were abuzz with the story about the birth. We were off to a great start.  The subject for this class was danger signs to watch for during pregnancy, like the signs and symptoms of pre-eclampsia. At the end of class, one of the women came to me and told me about a woman in the village neighboring hers who she was worried about. She was expecting her 9th child and was “all swelled up.” We decided to go to her village next. It turned out that my student was correct, the pregnant woman did have a lot of swelling, her blood pressure was very high, she was experiencing headaches and to make matters worse, it had been raining so much that the road to her village was almost impassible. Soon buses and cars would not be able to get to her village. We decided that the best thing to do would be to transport her.  The hospital decided to do a cesarean section and delivered a 9 pound baby (see the photo of the mother and her newborn baby above).

I heard many stories about breech babies dying while I was in Belize. Often the baby was alive when the feet and body were born but those in attendance would watch as the pink, kicking, limbs turned blue and stopped moving. The head was entrapped and by the time they were able to free it the baby was dead. I knew that the women of the villages would not call the midwives for the easy normal deliveries but would call them when there were problems. For this reason I thought that it was especially important to teach how to handle complications and how to deliver twins and breeches.

Eulaya in the village of Jalacte, which is located far from the hospital, was one of the Mayan women that I trained. The first two babies that she delivered were breech. Both babies survived. Eulaya has gone on to deliver many babies and to be looked up to by the women in her village.

Vicenta loved her copy of A Book for Midwives which soon became dog eared from studying it. She called me one day because she needed help transporting a women who was not due for another month but her water had broken and labor had not started. She was concerned that infection would set in if something wasn’t done. She had to walk from her village where there was no phone to the neighboring village to make the call. At first the hospital would not send an ambulance to pick up this woman so Vicenta called me to see what I could do. With some persuading I was able to convince the hospital to send an ambulance to pick up the pregnant woman and bring her to the hospital. Sure enough, Vicenta was right, the water was broken. At the hospital her labor was started by induction and mother and baby both survived.

One week later another woman in Vicenta’s village started bleeding early in her pregnancy. The bleeding was more than usual and wouldn’t stop. Vicenta again walked to the next village and this time when she called the hospital they knew who she was and they went right away to transport the woman who was bleeding. By this time the woman had lost so much blood that she was barely conscious, and needed a blood transfusion as well as a D&C.

I think that there is a great need for trainings like this one and that A Book for Midwives is an excellent manual for traditional birth attendants and community midwives.

Deborah Flowers CPM, RN

Read original article here

Combatting Sexual Assault on Campus: There’s an App for That


May 3, 2012 , NEW YORK CITY — Appropriately enough, Circle of 6 was born on Twitter.

Nancy Schwartzman, a longtime advocate against sexual violence, first heard about it when her friends and followers started pinging her about a challenge issued by the White House to create an “App Against Abuse.” She called reproductive rights advocate Deb Levine of Internet Sexuality Information Services (ISIS), and over the course of a few phone calls, they dreamed up Circle of 6, an award-winning iPhone app that helps prevent sexual violence and dating abuse and has been downloaded 28,000 times to date. It’s targeted at students, one in five of whom have reported experiencing sexual assault or attempted sexual assault during their time at college, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Circle of 6 works by leveraging the close circles of friends maintained by college students to create a safety net for girls who find themselves in unsafe or undesirable situations. After a user downloads the app, she’ll choose six close friends to be in her circle.

“The circle concept mirrors the tight circles that college students have, where your friends are your family,” said Ms. Schwartzman.

Having six friends on call also serves a practical purpose, said Ms. Levine, if you need immediate assistance. For example, a woman’s date is starting to make her feel uncomfortable at dinner. She can press a button asking her friends to call and interrupt the date, giving her an excuse to leave.

“Nowadays, everyone’s really busy, so if you put together a circle of six close friends, likely one or two will be free to get you out of that situation,” she said.

Ms. Schwartzman noted that the process of selecting and adding friends opens up important conversations about sexual violence and abuse prevention. A friend who is selected will receive an SMS text message alerting her or him that she’s been chosen to be in the circle.

“For example, my friends would get a text that says ‘You’ve been chosen to be in Nancy’s circle with a link to the site,” said Ms. Schwartzman. “So they’ve already had these conversations, and we provide resources for them about sexual assault and dating abuse prevention.”

The pair knew each other from their long experience in advocacy around similar issues. An independent filmmaker and the founder and Executive Director of The Line Campaign, Ms. Schwartzman uses an approach she calls “transmedia,” which engages multiple channels: storytelling, video, social media, and now mobile. Ms. Levine’s group ISIS promotes sexual and reproductive health by reaching underserved communities through online and mobile outreach. They teamed up with developer Christine Corbett Moran and graphic designer Thomas Cabus, working remotely to create the app over the course of a few weeks.

From their experience working with young people, the group came up with common scenarios that their audience would likely face.

“We brainstormed different commands that we thought would be useful, that really came from stories I’ve heard from students. What they could have used, what did they need?” said Ms. Schwartzman. “The philosophy was to prevent it before it happens. Say you stay out late at a party, and then all of a sudden it’s 3 am and there are hard choices about how to get home. Do I walk home by myself at night? Do I stay here with people I don’t really know? Or do I let someone bring me home who I also don’t know that well? None of those are particularly good options.”

While rape, sexual assault and dating abuse are fraught topics, Ms. Schwartzman is particularly proud that unlike some of the other submissions to the contest, Circle of 6 isn’t motivated by fear or paranoia.

“Using your phone to prevent rape could be very fear-based,” she said. “We didn’t want to base the app on fear, but rather on harnessing what’s really positive in young peoples’ lives, which are these tight knit friendships and connectivity. It should be easy for people to access people they know and trust.”

The app’s focus on violence prevention also represents an evolution in thinking about the issue, said Ms. Levine.

“With the passage and renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, there was a lot of focus on setting up shelters, crisis centers and crisis hotline,” said Ms. Levine. What’s different now, in 2012, is that we’re focusing on prevention. I think everyone at this point recognizes there’s a problem, and we’re taking care of those who are affected, but now it’s time, culturally and societally, for this to stop.”

Ms. Schwartzman, who has lectured on over 80 college campuses about sexuality and consent, said the response from students has been overwhelming.

“It’s really hard to talk about sexual assault all the time. People get really bugged out about it,” she said. “But when I show the video about this app, it gets a full round of applause. The students are so excited that people cared enough to think this through, and create something that prevents violence.”

Anna Louie Sussman is a writer and editor for the Women in the World Foundation website, and a frequent contributor to major U.S. magazines and newspapers.

iEmpire: Apple’s Sordid Business Practices Are Even Worse Than You Think

Apple Inc.
New research goes beyond the New York Times to show just how disturbing labor conditions at Foxconn, the “Chinese hell factory,” really are.
February 7, 2012 |

Behind the sleek face of the iPad is an ugly backstory that has revealed once more the horrors of globalization. The buzz about Apple’s sordid business practices is courtesy of the New York Times series on the “iEconomy. In some ways it’s well reported but adds little new to what critics of the Taiwan-based Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics manufacturer, have been saying for years. The series’ biggest impact may be discomfiting Apple fanatics who as they read the articles realize that the iPad they are holding is assembled from child labor, toxic shop floors, involuntary overtime, suicidal working conditions, and preventable accidents that kill and maim workers.

It turns out the story is much worse. Researchers with the Hong Kong-based Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) say that legions of vocational and university students, some as young as 16, are forced to take months’-long “internships” in Foxconn’s mainland China factories assembling Apple products. The details of the internship program paint a far more disturbing picture than the Times does of how Foxconn, “the Chinese hell factory,” treats its workers, relying on public humiliation, military discipline, forced labor and physical abuse as management tools to hold down costs and extract maximum profits for Apple.

To supply enough employees for Foxconn, the 60th largest corporation globally, government officials are serving as lead recruiters at the cost of pushing teenage students into harsh work environments. The scale is astonishing with the Henan provincial government having announced in both 2010 and 2011 that it would send 100,000 vocational and university students to work at Foxconn, according to SACOM.

Ross Perlin, author of Intern Nation, told AlterNet that “Foxconn is conspiring with government officials and universities in China to run what may be the world’s single largest internship program – and one of the most exploitative. Students at vocational schools – including those whose studies have nothing to do with consumer electronics – are literally forced to move far from home to work for Foxconn, threatened that otherwise they won’t be allowed to graduate. Assembling our iPhones and Kindles for meager wages, they work under the same conditions, or worse, as other workers in the Foxconn sweatshops.”

The state involvement shows Foxconn and Apple depend on tax breaks, repression of labor, subsidies and Chinese government aid, including housing, infrastructure, transportation and recruitment, to fatten their corporate treasuries. As the students function as seasonal employees to meet increased demand for new product rollouts, Apple is directly dependent on forced labor.

The real story of the Apple-Foxconn behemoth, then, is far from being John Galt incarnate. Their global dominance is forged in the crucible of China’s state-managed authoritarian capitalism. Since the 1980s China has starved rural areas to accelerate the industrialization of coastal cities like Shenzhen, where Foxconn first set up shop in 1988. Scholars who study China’s economy and labor market link rural underdevelopment to the creation of a massive migrant work force that serves as the foundation of the country’s industrialization. Deprived of many rights, migrants are recruited to work in Foxconn’s city-sized complexes by government employees with false promises of good-paying jobs that will help them escape rural poverty. A large percentage of migrant workers are student interns as they are recruited from poor rural regions like Henan and sent to work in coastal metropolises like Shenzhen.

Read more here


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