According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index released by Australia-based human rights group Walk Free Foundation, India has the highest number of people in the world trapped in modern slavery. India has the highest absolute numbers of people trapped in slavery with 18.35 million slaves among its 1.3 billion population in which more than 1.8 crore Indian’s are victims of forced labour; forced labour includes prostitution and begging. An estimated 45.8 million people, including women and children, are subject to some form of modern slavery in the world which has increased considerably as compared to 35.8 million in 2014. Followed by India is China with 3.39 million, Pakistan with 2.13 million, Bangladesh with 1.53 million and Uzbekistan with 1.23 million. As per the index these five countries together constitute for almost 58 per cent of the world’s enslaved (26.6 million) people and all these nations are Asian. The survey was conducted in 167 countries in which modern day slavery was found in all the countries. The research included over 42,000 interviews conducted in 53 languages across 25 countries, including 15 state-level surveys in India. This representative survey covered around 44 per cent of the global population. The countries with the highest estimated prevalence of modern slavery by the proportion of their population are North Korea, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, Cambodia, India, and Qatar.
What is Modern Slavery? Modern slavery basically refers to a situation of exploitations in which a person cannot leave because of threats, violence, coercion and abuse of power or deception and the person is totally subdued at physical and mental level and even reduced to the level of instrumentum vocale. How to tackle it? Out of the 161 countries assessed, 124 nations including India had criminalised human trafficking in line with the UN trafficking Protocol and 96 nations had developed national action plans to coordinate government response. Is our Indian government doing enough to eradicate this demon? India has more people enslaved than any other country and it has made significant progress in introducing measures to tackle the problem.
Our nation has criminalised trafficking, slavery, forced labour, child prostitution and forced marriages in addition to this government is also tightening legislation against human trafficking with tough punishment and will offer victims protection and recovery support. But, are we successful in tackling the problem? Well, the answer lies within these statistics; according to the report in the year 2014, in India there were nearly 14.3 million people who were enslaved and as per the latest report this figure has increased to 18.35 million. Despite of stringent measures and taught ruling we are bound to ask, why is this problem increasing in our nation? The answer is poverty, regional disparity, poor execution of law and far prolonged judgments. Also business community have a great contribution to human slavery by making the poor work hard for entire day and pay them menial wages in return. Ever since we have achieved our independence we are tagged as a developing nation with humongous potential. At one hand we are the world’s fastest growing economy and simultaneously we topping the modern slavery index. The fastest growing cities and urban dwellings are accompanied with lagging ruler counterparts who are many times forced into such practices of modern slavery. Government having enough laws are failing to tackle the situation because for them it is just one more of a series of pressing problems. But this is not a problem to ignore. It is a plague a disease from which we have to get rid as soon as possible.
Almost all the nations have slavery in some form or the other but we have to learn from the countries like Luxembourg, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden and Belgium, the United States and Canada, and Australia and New Zealand which are having lowest estimation of modern slavery by the proportion of their population. We have to learn to keep Human Rights of our citizens at the highest order and this will not happen by just making rules, policies and punishments on papers but also implementing them in day to day practice. Jotting down mindlessly in the book of rules will yield no results but facing the reality will. And the reality is no fairy-tale. It is written with the handicap and helplessness of our poor and week. The Indian government is trying to maintain the balance between the economic growth and the social reforms programmes. The government has introduced programmes like providing 150 days of work to unskilled labourers under the MGNREGA act, tightening the forced work and child labour law, opening up the bank account of each family of the country, offering subsidy in food grains to the people listed in the below poverty line category and many more. But still Indian is facing the state of modern day slavery innumerous forms. In nutshell, Uniform economic growth, implementation of law and speedy justice, harsh punishment and spreading the knowledge about the modern slavery has become mandatory to solve this problem or else enslaved people will remain in their current condition of inhuman slavery and the country’s economic growth will not be enjoyed by the entire nation but only a restricted group.