India and Apparel, A Fair Trade Journey

It feels so long ago, but I can still technically say that I was “recently” in India. Way back in September, CRS Fair Trade traveled on a delegation convened by the Fair Trade USA apparel pilot. My traveling companions were a great group of allies from the United States and wonderful hosts and colleagues in Mumbai, Kolkata, Karimnagar and Sangli. If I didn’t think it would bore you, I’d cut and paste the whole itinerary of places we crammed into a week and list of folks we managed to meet–a fascinating range of seasoned Fair Traders, entrepreneurs, and civil society leaders.

The trip was fraught with much anticipation and expectation. Some of us were new to the subcontinent, others were eager to return to India after many years away. Plus, there was the purpose of the trip itself: to assess if the controversial pilot was making progress. Many people I respect a great deal have been opposed to the pilot, fearing its standards are too weak. Now, in the wake of its unilateral decision to leave Fairtrade International, Fair Trade USA has outraged many advocates. (My favorite quip so far is from former Theo Chocolate worker, Rachel Taber, “How many people have to tell them NO?!?”)
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