Posted by: kalmeida317 | March 16, 2011

What every Indian should Fight to Reform!

I had an intense debate with myself regarding whether or not I should make this post because I was concerned about projecting India in excessively bad light. In fact, I think that in its 64 years of independence and unison, India has managed to accomplish unprecedented goals. The last decade has been especially productive, as the economy has grown approx 7.5% a year, the GDP has reached $1.4 trillion, hourly wages for laborers has doubled, millions have risen from poverty and millions more are not dying of starvation. However, as high rises and corporate ideals establish themselves in the bigger cities, there are people that modern India appears to have left behind and their story is worth sharing. In states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Rajasthan, the evidence of slave labor is overwhelming, as some activists and government officials estimate numbers of between 10-30 million.

A vast majority of these workers are victims at birth, paying a price for personal loans taken by their parents or other close relatives, loans that will lead them into a life of intense labor and hardship. These workers work from sunrise to sunset with food and water being their only compensation. Labor rights and liberty are just figments of their imagination as they find themselves embedded in a cruel cycle that inherently pegged them at the bottom of the countries status quo.

The reason this is a cycle is because it is hard to pay off debt when one does not get paid. Many of these workers are paying the debt of ancestors they have never met and in all probability their children will do the same. They work because they are forced, illiterate and stuck in a bubble that democracy has apparently disregarded. The fact that such labor is illegal does not seem to phase or affect their employers, who for years have enjoyed the benefits of free labor.

What gets lost is the fact that these are Indian citizens with equal rights and traditionally in cases like this I would direct bulk of the blame to the local governments and law enforcement authorities. However, in a country that has a police to person ratio of 0.95 per 1000 people, there is a significant lack of government man power. The onus therefore I feel falls on capable citizens who need to push for this to become a national agenda.

The Indian public has proven to fight for its beliefs before. The conservation of Tigers, women’s rights and environmentally friendly industries are good examples of citizens expressing their apprehension over dreadful situations. India is the largest democracy in the world and the very premise of a democracy is that everyone matters. These people are getting enslaved, beaten, grossly mistreated and humiliated. Let us all do what we can to aid the human rights initiative.

-Karan Almeida



  1. That is a very inevitable issue that you have talked about. In spite of being one of the root causes of poverty in our country we still easily overlook such important matters.

  2. Thanks for the comment 🙂

    I agree, I think at this point education is the most important and effective solution.

  3. Good writing but I don’t think the Indian government is going to do anything about this. It is a very old problem and if nobody has done anything so far nothing is going to happen in the future.

    • You might be right, but I really hope that you are not. The reason nothing gets done is because we talk about these issues and then don’t take any action. We need to follow through with plans in order to see results.

  4. We should fight for the rights of people but I don’t think the situation is that bad in these states. Workers get food and a place to stay and those are things they would not be able to afford if they had other jobs.

    • Thanks for the comment.

      However I do think the situation is that bad. Slaves from Africa got a place to stay, it does not mean it was humane. The problem with this is not just the fact that they are not paid to work. The problem also is that they do not have the “choice” they should as Indian citizens. Bonded labor is illegal and that’s what this is.

  5. I am glad you decided to write about this issue. India, like any other country has its positive and negative aspects. To become better and stronger we have to give due attention to all that is wrong and try in every way to change things. We cannot emulate the proverbial ostrich and hide heads in the sand.

    I am sure these people are given food and shelter, but what kind of food and what kind of shelter is it? Is it just barely enough to keep their bodies together? Do they and their families even receive all the required nutrients? I don’t think we can judge how things are unless we have actually seen and experienced it ourselves.

    It is also about more than food and shelter; it is about human dignity and human freedom. It is what we fought for against the British. I think every Indian should understand that. We cannot be completely free till all of us are free. If no foreign power has the right to enslave us, no Indian too has the right to enslave another Indian or even another human being.

    The perpetrators might be inclined to terrorizing all those who oppose them, with threats or actual violence. They will obviously not wish to lose their free labour, which is enabling them to make huge profits. They might even be morally justifying what they do as their right over people of a lower caste or over their debtors. It is hard to fight an injustice which is backed by violence, arrogance and misplaced moral righteousness. Legislation is not enough, the government has to be prepared to back up its legislation with appropriate action.
    The People though should wake up from their apathy and voice their views strongly over this.

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