US President Andrew Jackson’s old plantation near Nashville, Tennessee brings to mind a story I’ve been working on. Jackson got rich in the 18th Century cotton boom for which he kept 150 slaves, sleeping them ten to a hut. He preferred owning families because they were more controllable and, by law, slaves were not allowed to be educated. When one escaped he took out a $50 newspaper advertisement for his capture with $10 bonus if the finder punished him with lashes. The plantation’s audio guide explains that it’s difficult to imagine how a person could work ‘in the heat of the day all day’ exhausted and with bloodied hands picking cotton. But then, mirror-similar abuse is going on today in India and elsewhere as uneducated enslaved workers, living in constant fear of violence, feed the world’s markets with cheap cotton and other raw products. Like in Jackson’s day leaders of big industries allow slavery because it’s good for business. Unlike then, slavery is now illegal. Yet India’s slavery is so widespread that the government issues a certificate that’s meant to guarantee freedom once an enslaved person has been released — even to children as young a three.