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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

iThink. Therefore iPod.

I have been following the charges that have surfaced against Apple Computer about the poor working conditions its iPod plant in China offers its workers because it involves Apple, but - more to the point - because of my interest in the working conditions and the exploitation of labour in the majority world by corporations from developed and civilized countries. Outsourcing is merely a euphemism for this exploitation and we fall for it hook, line and sinker!
The ultimate monstrosity, of course, has been that of Outsourcing Torture. Some of the countries have even tortured their own citizens for a 'suitable' fee from the USA, or even the turning of a blind eye to the tyrannous rule in those places.
The philosophy behind this outsourcing of torture reminds me of a tale from Manto's Siyaah Haashiyay ('Black Borders' - a collection of vignettes unparalleled in Urdu) in which some people find a Muslim family hiding in the basement of one of the houses they have occupied during the 1947 Indo-Pak Partition massacre. They debate among themselves about the diposal of these Muslims: They cannot kill them because killing is forbidden by their Jain faith. So, they finally 'settle' the problem by deciding to hand them over to some other sect whose faith would allow them to kill.
I doubt if Apple should be expected to be better or worse than any other corporation in its pursuit of money. To be fair, it has never, to my knowledge, claimed a moral high ground. While it has not yet fallen foul of the law for the strong-arm tactics and illegalities that Microsoft has, that doesn't 'guarantee' that it never will. One can only hope. Who knows what goes on inside all these big companies? Corporate greed is a killer disease.
That said, I have been a Mac user since 1984 and, like all its previous versions, Apple's OS (Current version: Tiger) remains my favourite by a long shot over all else. And the next version (Leopard) is drool-cool! [Wintel users: If you switch and find that you do have an occasional masochistic pang for Windoze, the new Intel Macs run that, too. And fast.] Aesthetically Apple is still the best in terms of Hardware and Peripherals, as well as its own suites (iWork & iLife) based on the original philosophy of being 'the computer for the rest of us' (although Trott finds it fun, too)! And its innovations, from the iPod and the iTunes Store to the MacMini and even the Apple Stores are blatantly copied by everyone else, as was its GUI. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of acknowledging lack of creativity!
My favourite or not, its impact has never lessened ever since it launched the personal computer revolution. Despite a comparatively miniscule marketshare, it makes ripples throughout the media everytime Jobs so much as sneezes. When did you last see Michael Dell's address to his Developers[?] shown in the TV News section? The iPod has even been the source of adding a word - Podcasting - to the English Language. It was, in fact, named the word of the year. I am as unlikely to excuse, much less defend, Apple's malpractices as I am the Holocaust. On the other hand, as an activist, I have seen such charges levelled against many companies by Greenpeace and Animal Rights groups, but have - apart from the usual unsupported denials by the guilty parties - yet to see many other companies offer such a quick and fair response.
I must admit, though, that my love of Jobs's products is somewhat enhanced by a common affinity for the movements of the 60s - a fact that, to many of you, may not amount to much ... but means the world to me!

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Blogger Sidhusaaheb said...

The truth about out-sourcing is, perhaps, best explained by an old Hindi film song, sung by and picturised upon the legendary comedian Mehmood. The lyrics go something like, "The whole thing is bhaiyya that sabse baDaa rupaiya..."

16 May, 2007 09:44


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