My Experience - Madelaine Sexton

IndiaInsight

03/02/2015

I decided to come on the study tour not only to indulge my fascination with Indian culture but also to learn more about the country’s history and politics and how that helps to shape Australia’s bilateral relations with India.

Day 2 saw the tour hit the markets of New Delhi to get some much needed shopping in. We went to Dili Haat, a tourist market that sells products from every state in India. Whilst it is a tad more expensive (and a lot quieter) then your average Indian market, we all managed to snag a few bargains and practice our bartering skills.

After the market we went to Gandhi Smriti, which is a museum dedicated Mahtama Gandhi, the man who lead the independence movement in India from 1915 – 1948. The museum is the site where Gandhi lived the last 144 days of his life and he was assassinated in its grounds on the 30th of January 1948. The museum is also home to the Eternal Gandhi Multimedia Museum, which presents Gandhi’s life and work in a series of interactive multimedia displays. The museum was interesting in that it presented Gandhi’s story in a variety of different mediums, including pictures, videos and dioramas (not to mention all the weird and wacky displays up in the Multimedia Museum).

We were joined at Gandhi Smriti by local development expert Anshuman Sharma. Anshuman is an Indian academic and Fulbright scholar who, for the past few years has been working with BBC Media Action to inform people in remote villages about the dangers of bonded labour via a weekly radio program. It was fantastic to have a local with us as we wandered around Gandhi Smriti who could answer all our questions and provide insights into how Gandhi’s political party went on to heavily shape India’s future and how that influence impacted on India’s latest election that saw right wing conservative BJP party win government.

Anshuman also joined us back at our guesthouse to give us a presentation about his work with BBC Media Action. More then 90% of India’s labour market is engaged in informal labour and the market is rife with bonded labour, which is equivalent modern day slavery. Bonded labour is “characterized by a long-term relationship between employer and employee, is usually solidified through a loan.” As there are no records of the debt kept, it becomes an inter-generational loan that grows through compound interest. In fact there are more slaves now then ever before. Anshuman and his two colleagues produced a weekly radio program aimed at rural villagers in three states around Delhi. The program provided information about bonded labour, government programs for the poor and labour rights. The program reached a remarkable amount of people (estimated direct engagement of 250,000) and is a fantastic example of how communications can be used in a development context to help raise awareness of important issues such as bonded labour.

- Madelaine Sexton, Melbourne