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How does Pakistan collude with child labour? The following extracts are from an article in The Atlantic and show how the Pakistani authorities pay lip service but do nothing. Indeed they look the other way,. Law is not an absolute. We must expect a certain flexibility on the part of those who enforce it. Could this sometimes mean looking the other way?

Entire industries have relocated to Pakistan because of the abundance of cheap child labor and our lax labor laws. The National Assembly must not rush through reforms without first evaluating their impact on productivity and sales. Our position is that the government must avoid so-called humanitarian measures that harm our competitive advantages. Because the rich and powerful of Pakistan and other poor countries are highly mobile, they are able to travel to the West for health, education and leisure.

There is little incentive to improve their own countries. Child labour shows no significant signs of abating, despite Western policies speciously designed to curb it. This is due to unfair and rigged general policies such as the free flow of capital and goods, but not labour — worse still, selective migration; there is also the international division of labour, already mentioned. The most practical solution is an international minimum wage, which would have to be enforced upon Western companies by Western laws to be effective.

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Muhammad Younus , the Bangladeshi Nobel prize-winning economist, has recently called for something similar. To go alongside this, we would also need prosecution of Western companies using child labour abroad. For those who argue that this is impractical, we have the example of the law that allows prosecution of people who use child prostitution abroad.

Why not for child labour? It is practical — only the will is lacking. Excerpts of his PhD work have been published on the MD website, as well as other places. This article was commissioned for our academic experimental space for long form writing curated and edited by Yasmin Gunaratnam. A space for provocative and engaging writing from any academic discipline.

Every donation is of great help and goes directly towards sustaining the organisation. This is a brilliant and informative piece. Child labour was indeed transported to the former colonies. Advances in human psychology during the late 18th and early 19th century led to newer, more sustained forms of control and exploitation. Foucault has done excellent research in this regard. Also, the shift to child labour coincided with the unequivocally pivotal fallout of the glorious Haitian Revolution.

European Imperialists cunningly decided to pay a pittance to mainly Indian colonial subjects for their labour and obedience, rather than continue to battle against hundreds of African insurrections across the Americas. Britain became an abolitionst nation because they turned to cheap Indian labour. They are also disingenuous. The plight of child labours around the world today, digging for natural resources, making clothing, and acting as cogs for other industries, is the a tangible example of the legacy of TransAtlantic slavery. The sooner we all acknowledge the true history behind our interconnected, capitalist modern world, the better.

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Only a mastr could have written this propulsive tale of a striver living on the knife's edge, a noir Horatio Alger story for our frenetic, violent times. The road to filthy riches is nasty, brutish, and long, yet Hamid's talent is such that we see the humanity in all this striving—indeed, on finishing this extraordinary book, one wonders if the striving might be the sincerest expression of our flawed, fragile humanity.

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, Mohsin Hamid's third novel, confirms that this radically inventive storyteller is among the most important of today's international writers. He lives in Lahore with his wife and children. When did this image first come to you? The week of my multi-day marriage in Pakistan, my wife wasn't herself. She was tired, drained, out of sorts. She loves dancing but could barely get to her feet.

A doctor said she was fine. My aunts said, "It happens. Just nerves.


The day after our wedding, we found out she had hepatitis E, probably from eating contaminated food. It took her a month to recover. We cancelled our honeymoon.

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Even now, when I think about the look she gave me as we heard her diagnosis, I'm sheepish-and if looks were uppercuts, well, I'd be curled up on the floor, whimpering in pain. So I'd say, to the extent I can, that the image came in parts, and congealed when I started writing. For me, creating a character is like acting.

I have to imagine being them. Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself. And when I imagined being the boy in this story, these were some of the echoes I found. The story is taken from the opening chapters of a novel you're working on, How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia , which follows this boy from childhood into adulthood. Your first two novels were set in Pakistan, yet you never specify your protagonist's homeland in this case. Was that a deliberate choice? How specific and how universal have you been in your account of the boy's surroundings and situation?

So this is the first time I've set a novel entirely in one country. I wanted to use Pakistan as a template, but not be bound by it. Not having any names in the novel, except for continent names, was a way for me to de-exoticize the context, to see it fresh. You have to think differently when there's religion but no words "Islam" or "Christianity," food but no Afghani tikka or Wiener schnitzel, beloveds but no Laila or Juliet. I wanted to find my way to something universal, and since I work with words, I tried to teach myself through selective abstinence.

The story, like the novel, is told in the second person.

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As a result, the reader is both privy to the protagonist's innermost thoughts and yet often allowed to understand the implications of events that the boy and later man is not yet aware of himself. Did you always know you were going to tell his story in the second person? Did it present any particular challenges? I've tried to avoid the second person in all three of my novels, and versions of it have found their way in every time-increasingly so, in fact. I suppose it's because I can't shake the idea that a novel is like a dance, with two people dancing, writer and reader, and it's a bit strange to pretend I'm doing it by myself.

This time around, after a couple of failed drafts, I gave in to the second person completely, and I found it pretty liberating as a form: you can move from a hyper-intimate first-person-like perspective to a cosmically removed third-person-like one very easily. It seems to invite that kind of riffing. The boy lives with his mother, his two older siblings, and his father's extended family in a small village, while his father works in the city as a cook.

The boy's mother persuades his father to take her and the three children back to the city with him. In the history of the evolution of the family, you and the millions of other migrants like you represent an ongoing proliferation of the nuclear. It is an explosive transformation-the supportive, stabilizing bonds of extended relationships weakening and giving way, leaving in their wake insecurity, anxiety, productivity, and potential. Nuclear families are easier to write, at least for me.

They have fewer moving parts. But the clan is important. It's vital to understanding the world. The problem is that I gravitate toward compression. Slender books. So a writer like me doesn't have natural recourse to one of the usual clan-writing options, which is to approach it through a big, sprawling, multitudinous novel. Without open spaces for narrative and characterization, clan-writing can become essayistic. But I think there are ways to re-appropriate essayistic writing in fiction.

Certainly I'm trying to figure out ways to do so. Tell, don't show. Then again, there are writers who make clan-writing on a compressed canvas look effortless: Lampedusa, Achebe. You grew up in Pakistan, but spent part of your childhood in the United States, and as an adult, have divided your time between Pakistan, the States, and Britain. Your first novel, Moth Smoke , was about a young banker in Lahore, your second novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist , concerned an American-educated banker who has returned home to Pakistan. The boy at the center of "The Third-Born" has little chance of leaving his homeland to study abroad, or of becoming a banker in his twenties.

What was it like to examine the way society functions from another part of the spectrum? Does chance play as powerful a role in those lives as it does in this one? Chance plays a powerful role in every life-our brains and personalities are just chemical soup, after all; a few drops here or there matter enormously-but consequences often become more serious as income levels go down.

The new novel is about seventy years in a man's life, but because it's all set in the historical present, it could also be the stories of a dozen different people at a dozen different levels of society, all occurring right now. I wanted to see what happens when you fuse a lifelong saga with a society-wide one. Two segmentations: one along time, the other along class, operating simultaneously. Like slicing an apple on two axes, the vertical of an individual and the horizontal of a community, to see what kind of fruit it really is on the inside.

What kind of fruit I really am. A nutty one, clearly. What effect did these choices have on your experience as a reader? How does the transition from rural to urban life affect the family? What challenges does it alleviate for them, both individually and as a unit, and what new challenges does it create?

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What first intrigues the hero about the pretty girl? In what ways does her rise parallel—and diverge from—his? Were you surprised by the course of their affair? Why do you think the author chose to give it this form rather than craft a more conventional romance? What does the book ultimately have to say about love? What happens to morality—for the hero, his father, and the pretty girl—in the pursuit of ambition? What happens to love?

Apart from continents, no place is named in the book and all of the characters are anonymous. Why do you think the author chose to forgo names? What effect does this anonymity have on the telling of the story and on your experience reading it? The story spans the hero's entire life, from early childhood to death. How does the author convey such a broad sweep of time in so few pages?

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What insights about mortality does the story offer? The book is set against a backdrop of massive and often brutal economic and social change.

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In what ways does this context limit the hero's life choices? In what ways does it liberate him? What might this story look like played out elsewhere in the world? What do you think the novelist's attitude toward religion is? How would you describe this shift, and how are these two developments related?

After finishing the book, what do you think of the title? How does it blur the boundaries between genres—fiction, nonfiction, self—help, and even sci—fi? What did you think of the ending of the book? Was it surprising, given the title? Where did it leave you as a reader, and where do you think the author intended it to leave you? How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia begins with a familiar trope: impoverished rural boy makes big; but Hamid's crisp imagery and often wry tone, mesmerizing prose, and visionary storytelling water rights are key , make How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia a peerless political novel, one that has received rave reviews from The New York Times and The Washington Post.