Pattisson’s visits have been devoted to documenting the persistence of a dreadful pre-modern phenomenon: slavery. It is rarely recognised as such, even by many slaves. But Pattisson has an unarguable, no-nonsense definition of slavery. People are slaves when they are not free to leave their place of work. By that standard, millions of Indians—by the estimate of one American NGO, perhaps 20m—are slaves.
The lone survivor
When he was 13, Madam Rai came to Punjab to look for work, with six friends. The others all died in farming accidents—breathing lethal fertiliser fumes, or being bitten by snakes. Rai survived, but was disabled trying to fix an electric fuse for his landlord