Trapped in Exploitative Jobs
Sagar picks berries for 16 hours a day in over 100? heat for less than the legal minimum wage on a farm in Odemira, a rural region of south-west Portugal. He is one of over 10,000 migrant workers who risk exploitation and abuse in Portugal’s $270m soft fruit industry. How are people being trapped in these jobs.
Many workers like Sagar feel they cannot leave their jobs despite the exploitation because their hopes of achieving a European passport are tied to their employment status.

Upon arrival in Portugal, foreigners can apply for temporary residency, regardless of whether or not they entered Europe via regular channels, so long as they can prove they have a valid employment contract and are paying taxes.

Five years after obtaining temporary residency, foreign citizens can apply for citizenship. “The passport is the one big dream. It’s your life-changer,” says Sagar. “It’s the colour of a raspberry, about to fall from the tree.”

Many overseas workers endure exploitation to avoid jeopardising their residency application. “Everyone is very scared,” says Sagar. “Your taxes are connected with your work, and your papers are connected with your taxes. And if you lose one, you lose the other.”

 “They feel trapped, not only by the legal procedures but also the loans they got to come here and the money they have to pay to the people who brought them,” says Alexandra Pereira, a migration researcher at the University of Lisbon.

One man explained how he had to wade through neck-high rivers to reach Europe on the dangerous route through Serbia. “I didn’t know if I would die on the way,” he said. “It’s a very, very difficult journey.”

Having risked his life to reach Portugal, his current situation fills him with regret. “My heart is broken,” he says. He would return home to India if he could, but first he needs to pay $8,000 to his smuggler.
A Reader, London

26,000 Martyrs
Soldiers are revered in India. And yet India doesn’t have a grand war memorial to honour the sacrifice of 26,000 soldiers from the Indian National Army (INA), who laid down their lives for the freedom of the country. It’s not too late if the government takes action in 2022 - the year of 125th birth anniversary of a great soul called Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

Had the iconic Netaji been alive today he would have most earnestly wished for the construction of a grand War Memorial for the martyrs of the INA. The Indian National Army (INA) had a strength of 60,000. Out of these a staggering 26,000 laid down their lives to free India. This amounts to 44% of the force— an unprecedented scale of sacrifice with few parallels in global military history.

The present National War Memorial today has a total of 26,466 names of all martyrs since 1947. This is from a total strength of 1.3 million men of the Army, Navy and Air Force. This helps to place in context the colossal scale of sacrifice made by the INA for India’s freedom.

In July 1945 Netaji had laid the foundation stone of the INA War Memorial in Singapore. This was completed in August 1945. The war ended thereafter with the Allied Nuclear bombing of Japan. In September 1945 Lord Mountbatten came to Singapore. He ordered his army engineers to blow up the INA War Memorial with explosives.

In 1996 the Indian origin citizens of Singapore contributed money and built another memorial for the INA. Tragically even 75 years after independence, there is not one war memorial to honour the 26,000 martyrs of the INA in the whole of India.

Since the proclaimed objective of the INA was the Red Fort and also the INA trials were held there, one suggestion would be to erect it in the vacant plot near the car park at the corner of the Red Fort wall. Should that not be possible for any reason it should be constructed at any suitable location which is easily accessible to the common people.
Maj. Gen. (Dr.) G.D Bakshi (Retd) SM, VSM

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Vol 54, No. 35, Feb 27 - March 5, 2022