Tuesday November 20, 2018
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Modern Slavery: India accounts for almost 40 percent of the worldwide labourers

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Modern slavery. Image source: Wikipedia
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  • Global Slavery Index states, about 45.8 million victims of modern slavery are present in the world and India contributes to 18.3 million of them
  • Modern Slavery generates about $150 billion in illegal businesses
  • The Indian Government is coming up with a new comprehensive bill to address the issue of modern slavery

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According to the Global Slavery Index, India has a staggering number of 18 million people trapped in modern forms of enslavement. Modern slavery, as defined by the Walk Free Foundation, is “when one person possesses or controls another person in such a way as to significantly deprive that person of their individual liberty, with the intention of exploiting that person through their use, profit, transfer or disposal.” 45.8 million people are boggled down under the curse of Modern Slavery, a hike of 28 percent as compared to two years ago.

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Walk Free Foundation, famous for coining the Global Slavery Index, was initiated by Australian philanthropists Andrew and Nicola Forrest, and now has partners to enhance the impact of its campaigns in many parts of the world, like Rainforest Action Network, Global March Against Child Labor and Human Rights Watch.

Mining in Africa. Image source: Wikipedia
Mining in Africa. Image source: Wikipedia

Walk Free Foundation claims that modern slavery occurs in almost every country, under the misleading blankets of normalcy. Forced and bonded labor, sexual slavery and human trafficking, which come under the umbrella of human trafficking, have generated $150 worldwide.

“It’s where a person cannot leave their place of existence. Either their passports are taken, or there is a threat of violence against them or a member of their families, so they are stuck there. And, what’s worse, is they’re treated akin to a farm animal,” says Andrew Forrest, chairman of the Walk Free Foundation.

The most common form of bondage is financial debts. These modern day slaves owe massive sums of money to their masters, and due to the growing inflation, they are indebted for their entire lives. “I will be free only when I die,” says one laborer. The revenue that they create through their hard work is all pocketed by the slavers, and they’re only provided meager portions of meals. The fact that majority of these laborers are forced into bonded work by someone they already know or trust is truly heartbreaking.

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Child labour in India. Image source: Wikipedia
Child labour in India. Image source: Wikipedia

Child labor is often abound in these areas, and some are forced to beg on the streets with their limbs cut or eyes blinded to invite pity from pedestrians. They almost always never receive any of the money they earn, and are brainwashed with the most vivid forms of fear to prevent them to report to anyone. According to the Walk Free Foundation, “one in three detected victims” of modern slavery is a child.

Traces of modern slavery are ubiquitous in today’s world, and more importantly, in all sorts of industries. From the fishing industries in Thailand, where victims are forced to fish in small, uncomfortable boats for 20 hours a day, and receive next to nothing in return, all the way to human trafficked victims trapped in Cannabis factories underground and often don’t see the light of day.

The BBC reports that Shandra Woworuntu, an activist against human trafficking was forced into sexual slavery when she traveled to the USA from Indonesia in 2001. She eventually managed to flee her oppressors and helped the FBI locate the brothel where she was forced to work.

India’s figure of 18.3 million dwarfs China’s 3.39 million and Pakistan’s 2.13 million. Even though this news appears discouraging, Walk Free Foundation reports it has made tremendous progress in addressing the issue of modern slavery. “Its (India’s) Prime Minister, its cabinet ministers, its various states and its major Faith Leaders are making their intolerance for its continuance of this practice clear,” says Andrew Forrest. India’s Minister for Women & Children unveiled a draft of the country’s first-ever comprehensive anti-human trafficking law, which would treat survivors as victims in need of assistance and protection, rather than criminals, Thomson Reuters Foundation reported.

-by Saurabh Bodas

Saurabh is pursuing engineering and is an intern at NewsGram. Twitter handle: @saurabhbodas96

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  • Shivang Goel

    people here are more concerned with the issues like Malya’s bankruptcy and actually the rural issues are often or I say most of the times neglected, no wonder why India tops pollution and population graph,when children here arent expected to learn but to work ,unwillingly but forcefully

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    There should be more organisations like the Walk Free to ensure that the labors are well managed or not. Also sexual slavery is a very serious issue to be taken care of

Next Story

India And Vietnam Come Together Against Maritime Rival China

Beijing has been protesting against joint Vietnamese-Indian oil exploration activities in the South China Sea for almost a decade, but New Delhi has refused to budge.

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India- Vietnam
Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, left, shakes hands with Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong before heading for talks behind closed doors in Hanoi, Vietnam. VOA

Advances in relations between Vietnam and India will help both countries resist Chinese expansion in Asia including the contested South China Sea, Asia scholars say.

India-Vietnam relations are growing again this week as Indian President Shri Ram Nath Kovind visits Vietnam Sunday through Tuesday. He was set to meet Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong for closed-door talks.

The visit advances a long-standing, fast-improving friendship that began in the 1970s, when Vietnamese leaders tapped India to diversify foreign policy, and leapt forward in 2016 when the two sides entered a strategic comprehensive partnership. Now both worry about China.

“Given a shared apprehension of Chinese assertiveness, New Delhi seeks to bolster Hanoi’s capabilities to check China, to expand Indian influence in Southeast Asia as a counterweight to China’s growing footprint in South Asia,” said Sameer Lalwani, deputy director for U.S. think tank The Stimson Center’s South Asia program.

India, elections, vietnam
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the gathering during the ‘Global Mobility Summit’ in New Delhi, India, VOA

South China Sea dispute

Vietnam and four other governments dispute all or part of Beijing’s claim to about 90 percent of the South China Sea. The two sides got into two deadly ship clashes, in 1974 and 1988, and rammed each other’s boats in 2014. China cites historical documents to support its claims.

India, located west of the Indochinese peninsula, does not claim the sea that lies east of Vietnam.

But last year hundreds of Chinese and Indian troops faced off on a Himalayan plateau disputed by China and India’s ally Bhutan. India also resents China’s support for its territorial rival Pakistan. It has grown eager to help Australia, Japan and the United States patrol Asian seas where China has alarmed other countries by landfilling tiny islets, in some cases for military use.

Those countries want the 3.5 million-square-kilometer South China Sea open internationally instead of under increasing Chinese control.

“I think Vietnam wants India to play a more active role in the South Asian region because Vietnam knows that India is not so active in the quadrilateral, including the U.S., India, Australia and Japan,” said Trung Nguyen, director of the Center for International Studies at Ho Chi Minh University of Social Sciences and Humanities.

India-Vietnam
Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, right, and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Phu Trong review an honor guard in Hanoi, Vietnam. VOA

​India and Vietnam held their first joint drill In the Bay Of Bengal in October to strengthen “working-level” relations, the Press Trust of India says. India has offered Vietnam $500 million in credit for arms purchases, as well, and proposed a South China Sea warning system able to send tsunami data to Vietnam.

Oil and gas exploration

Vietnam and India will use fuel exploration to consolidate their stand in the South China Sea, and with a potential profit, analysts forecast.

India and Vietnam already do “robust” trade, worth $12.8 billion in 2017-2018, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs says. Bilateral trade should reach $15 billion by 2020, the vice chairman of the Indian Business Chamber of Vietnam said last year. Indian investment in Vietnam was $2 billion then.

For the past four years, the overseas subsidiary of India’s government-run ONGC has worked with PetroVietnam Exploration Production Corp. to search for oil and gas in the South China Sea. China is probably watching warily, experts say.

Climate Change, Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, right, and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Phu Trong review an honor guard in Hanoi, Vietnam
Submerged tombs are seen at a flooded village after heavy rainfall caused by tropical storm Son Tinh in Ninh Binh province, Vietnam. VOA

Vietnam happens to need outside expertise and investment to find gas and oil off its long seacoast. Both domestic and foreign oil firms would earn money from any discoveries.

“The issue of oil is probably one of the larger political elephants in the room, so to speak,” said Maxfield Brown, senior associate with the business consultancy Dezan Shira & Associates in Ho Chi Minh City. “I’m sure that Vietnam is keen to find countries that are willing to invest in its natural resources and aren’t necessarily scared off by the threat of Chinese naval incursions.”

Spanish driller Repsol quit a Vietnamese-approved project in the South China Sea in March, apparently under pressure from China, media reports said then. Vietnam is now considering a $4.6 billion gas exploration project with ExxonMobil, local partner CNG Vietnam Joint Stock Co. says. China claims that site, as well.

“Vietnam is always trying to get them to do more exploration and India has been wary of holding onto blocks that aren’t productive or getting blocks that are in sensitive areas vis-a-vis China,” said Carl Thayer, professor emeritus with the University of New South Wales in Australia.

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India has shown little fear to date, said Mohan Malik, professor in Asian security, Daniel K. Inouye Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in the United States.

“Beijing has been protesting against joint Vietnamese-Indian oil exploration activities in the South China Sea for almost a decade, but New Delhi has refused to budge,” Malik said. “Through joint naval exercises and port calls at Vietnamese ports, New Delhi is signaling to Beijing that China’s growing naval expansion…would be countered by India’s naval outreach in the South China Sea.” (VOA)