The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Monday, 2 June 2014


Those having the roots in rural India know it well – the brick kiln workers. What drew my attention to them was an International Labour Organization report on profits earned by the industries exploiting the poverty of the people forced to work in out of their financial misery.

The report identifies some sectors including the brick kilns as such industries earning profits from the ‘bonded labour’.

The other industries that it mentions are carpet weaving, rice and sugar cane industries.

Brick kilns are a regular feature throughout the India dotting the country’s landscape. Cities and towns have them on outskirts. And for villages, these are regulars, employing the folks from the lowest strata, the unskilled labourers.

In my childhood, I used to marvel at the efficiency of carving a simple-designed brick from the mud and heating the soil to make it a solid red-coloured block. Some of my family’s land was contracted to a brick kiln owner and I had some chances to visit there.

I used to question others why they were paid so less and why they used to live like that – soaked in dirt with no moments to take rest. And the condition has not changed much since my childhood.

It was a small operation and there was nothing like bonded labour as much as I could gather then. Yes, people working there were living in abject poverty and were ready to grab whatever earning opportunity they could have had through their physical labour.

But as I grew up and started getting the real sense of the social vulnerabilities of India’s societal formations through my associations and collaborations with some NGOs, I could gauge how deep the problem was.

Standalone or small brick kiln operations do not operate on bonded labour in economically backward regions as the labour is available but the condition is different for the larger players operating a number of kilns over a large geographical area or for brick kilns operating in areas with short supply of manpower to do this labour intensive work that badly affects the health of the workers.

Workers are still paid shamelessly low and the large operators need constant supply of cheap manpower to maintain their business on a consistent running mode.

And to ensure that, keeping the labour ‘bonded’ somehow is the ‘safest’ option for them. And given the poverty of the brick kiln workers, they get it done easily. And these mercenaries do not care if the worker is an adult or a child. The forced migration of the labour helps them in keeping a tight tab on their workforce that they never care for.

Being a ‘worker’ demands the conditions on ‘labour laws’ to be met but they are never treated as the ‘workers’. They are taken in as faceless identities and they remain so as long as they remain there, with no exit options to exercise. 

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -