Indentured labourers of the Gulf

Dalrymple acknowledges that his sympathy for the expatriate Dravidian workers of the Gulf states is

self-indulgent, for I know that I will forgo nothing, and do nothing, for them.

Instead, as he dines in a fine Lebanese restaurant, he controls his feelings and

I tell myself what is true — that they have elected to come, and doing so must represent an improvement or opportunity. Even if their passports are held as ransom, it is the life that they have chosen.

Small as the remuneration of the Kerala peons might seem, they send much of it home,

to support a family, to build a house, to start a business.

Is this helotry unfair? Dalrymple points out that fortune

does not distribute its favours in any ethically rational way.

If the system were ended,

hundreds of thousands of people (and their dependents) would lose a chance of betterment of their lives.

There are, says Dalrymple,

desiderata more important than justice.

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