ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Resistance against ‘Unfreedom’

The Sweatshop Regime: Labouring Bodies, Exploitation, and Garments Made in India by Alessandra Mezzadri, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2017; pp 258, £82.99 (hardback).


Imagine India as a gigantic, multi-storeyed garment department store, where global buyers and brands can shop different kinds of garments at different “floors,” from jeans, to jackets, T-shirts, skirts, blouses, woollens and more; an incredibly diverse variety of ready-made garments produced across different regions of India. The story of India’s ready-made garment sector is that of a highly spatialised, regionally specialised, geographically uneven and a complex constellation of industrial fragmentation. In short, it is a deeply geographical story.

Garment production in India is scattered across the country, characterised by fragmentation and clustering of productions in different regions. The way garment production in India developed is linked to the export quota system of 1974, known as the Multi Fibre Arrangement (MFA) which created a standardised quota for garment/apparel exporting countries. It was seen as a protectionist measure by developed countries and was in force till 2005. Despite its long history of textile trade and export, India started ready-made garment export fairly late in the 1960s and only between 1980 and 2008 did it establish itself as one of the top global exporters. By 2016, India ranked sixth amongst top 10 garment exporting nations (Lu 2017). In the beginning, Delhi and Mumbai were the key centres for garment exports, but with the relocation of export production from East Asia and liberalisation of the market in the 1990s, the Indian garment export sector expanded considerably. Major garment export clusters in India, as per the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) are located in: National Capital Region (NCR–Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh), Ludhiana, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Tiruppur (AEPC 2009).

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Updated On : 12th Jul, 2019
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