Kristin Frenis:

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I have mixed feelings about globalization after coming here. After doing the group days it’s easy to see how globalization is crushing some of the oldest traditional professions in India. During the group days visiting the coir factory and the sari weavers we saw that they faced common themes that contributes to the fall of their industry. Both owners told us that there is a problem because no one in Kerala wants to do this work for such low wages. The coir owner actually told us that he had to get workers from northern India. On average both of the industries workers made 150 to 200 rupees a day. One thing that astounded me was how readily both owners admitted that their industries have only a short time left. The owner of the traditional sari place told us that there are only 60 machines left in all or Kerala to make the traditional engagement and wedding saris. He predicted that once his experts passed away there would be no one else to work for him. To weave these saris also required three years unpaid internship and no one was willing to work for free. The coir owner told us that in two years his industry would be dead to machines despite handmade koyer ropes being more durable.

The owner of the coir rope place we went to told us that the United States is the biggest importer of his products. This rope is used to make doormats, used in gardens, or whatever rope is needed for. While we were touring the operations we came to a place where the women were shucking the soaked coconut shell from the fibers they use to make rope. The woman showed me her hands, that had cuts and callouses all over. She told us that when she eats her hands burn. I don’t think Americans often think about where the things they buy come from. There’s so many times we look at a tag to see where something is made and never give it a second thought. Next time I see something that says it’s from India I will wonder where it came from and how it was made.

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