The exploitation causes very very low wages and people living largely below the poverty line which is determined at $1 a day. Watching four men power a manual loom creating the carpets was heartbreaking because of the back breaking work they are doing. They are exposed to health issues with massive dust inhalation and exposed to poisonous dies and bleaches with no gloves or masks. They can only get enough work for 4 days a week which certainly does not give them enough wages to feed their families. And what makes me ache inside is that I don't believe there is any way to fight these workers battles. Walmart, Target and CVS... will continue to sell their mats and cheaper prices
and squeeze the workers with no concern over quality of life. It is the globalized world market way.
Kerala has a long history of progressivism and has been fighting for the people for a decade, but their ideals of co-operatives and worker protection are hard to achieve on a large scale level and companies would rather hire workers elsewhere and not have to provide the wages or protections. The ideals seem wonderful in study but I wonder what their future is.
On a positive note, Kerala did do a major land redistribution and most people at least own the land their house is on which gives them security not felt in most other poor areas. Here resources have been spread out among the people. Instead of having a few rich and mostly poor, it seems like most people live at a more equal level. While they don't seem to have much they have a political voice, education, healthcare and other basic civic structures which makes life better.
Kerala is a very different from the rest of India. I am beginning to get a better picture of the contrasts throughout India. What I see is a group of people who will work as hard as they can to provide for their families, who are the center of their lives. I see the contrast of the belief that the IT/call centers jobs and new wealth will spread to help all to the miles upon miles of poverty. There are signs of hope like new roads, new wells and signs of despair like sickness, deep, deep poverty and desperation. There is growth of the modern India and yet daily headlines that show the caste system is alive and well in the villages and the "untouchables" (now called Dalits) are kept in their place in society by a rigid set of social codes and violent enforcement methods and punishments.