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May 16, 2021

Fight between Haves and Havenots - A battle for Survival!

First Posted on Facebook on 16th December 2020!

The riot at the WINSTRON iPhone manufacturing facility in Karnataka, India is a huge wake-up call. It is the culmination of the differences between the haves and the have-nots.
Elaborating on the point, the employees are alleging that they were not paid salaries for three months, and what were they making? Apple iPhone the iconic and most sought-after brand in the world.
Imagine the mental agony these employees must have gone through. They are making the most iconic product in the world and they don't have money to have two square meals.
Not for a second is anyone condoning the riots. Pause and think, the company is claiming losses of Rs 470 crores worth of iPhones.
A back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that @70,000/- each would amount to a whopping 67,000 + I phones inventory that was held by WINSTRON!
The point of the matter is when you can hold inventory worth Rs 470 crores, why cant the company pay the workers' wages?
This reminded me of a song that the RSU, PDSU student Unions used to sing at Nizam college during our graduation days " సిగరెట్టు చేసేటోడా సిగరెట్టు నీకు లేదా".
Roughly translated it means "O Cigarette worker, you make the cigarettes for the world but you yourself cant smoke it". It was sung as a tribute to the workers of VST and other cigarette-making companies in Andhra Pradesh. It appears as if nothing has changed over the years.
If it was cigarettes in the 70s and the 80s it is cellphones, iPhone no less! Workers continue to get exploited.
But that is only one part of the story. Just like CoVid - 19 has shown, things can change and they can change rapidly. The have-nots will also get a chance and once they get it, the table can change swiftly. Two incidents that showed the power of have nots albeit only for a short duration.
In 2013 The state of Uttarakhand was ravaged by flash floods and many tourists were caught napping and were stranded in various tourist locations in and around Uttarakhand. Totally cut off from the digital world, their mobile phones, the internet, and google proved to be useless. They were like fish out of the water, gasping for air!
The locals were exploited by the tourists who played one hotel against the other by demanding lower prices and got cut-throat rates. The locals extracted their pound of flesh. The locals' cooly demanded and got what they wanted - exorbitant rates for the services that were suddenly in short supply.
The locals charged Rs 1,500/- for two rotis, a little dal, and a bottle of water. A biscuit pack was sold at Rs 250/- and a bottle of water was Rs 100/-. It was the vengence of the have-nots.
The same was repeated by the boatsmen of Kurnool. Kurnool suffered severe flooding in 2009. The boatsmen plying their boats in the city of Kurnool demanded Rs 2,000/- to Rs 5,000/- per person to ferry people across the street to safety. When the hapless stranded citizens pleaded with the boatmen, they cooly demanded that the ladies part with their mangalsutra! Such can be the fury of the have-nots.
A revolutionary writer once wrote " it is the kind-heartedness of the have-nots that is making the lives of the haves cushy. If the have-nots of India were to spit collectively the spit alone would sweep all the haves into the Bay of Bengal" Strong words but certainly, they should make us all think and ponder, at least for a few minutes!

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