March 2024 issue contents

T Anthony Sagaya Raj, Dr. P Amuthalakshmi


This research article explores the widespread issue of bonded labour in India. It traces its historical origins, examines its current forms, and suggests ways to liberate those affected. The study looks into the terms used and the systematic exploitation that characterizes this modern form of slavery. It shows how bonded labour has evolved from ancient times to the present, including its presence in the colonial era. The definitions of bonded labour, slavery, and forced labour are discussed, considering both their similarities and differences. International perspectives are included, with alarming statistics from organizations such as Human Rights Watch, the International Labour Organization, the Walk Free Foundation, and the Trafficking In Person Annual Report. The research reviews the extent of bonded labour nationally, incorporating findings from significant surveys by organizations like the Gandhi Peace Foundation, the National Sample Survey Organization, the National Commission on Rural Labour, and the National Human Rights Commission. Special attention is given to limited studies on bonded labour in Tamil Nadu, shedding light on historical studies, child labour, the Sumangali Scheme, and recent RTI disclosures. The study explores the types of bonded labour in India, highlighting its shift from agriculture to non- agricultural sectors and examining social traditions, exploitation based on vulnerability, and the challenges faced by migrant labourers. To understand the complex reasons behind bonded labour in India, the research analyzes economic causes such as lack of land, unemployment, poverty, and debt, along with social factors like the caste system, illiteracy, and customs. The study also closely examines the current realities and trends of bonded labour in Tamil Nadu, focusing on economic aspects like advances, wages, and power dynamics between owners and labourers. Living conditions, healthcare access, limited freedom, and long work hours faced by bonded labourers are underscored. The research concludes by suggesting a comprehensive liberation process, covering identification, release, rehabilitation, and prosecution of offenders. The roles of District Magistrates, Periodical Surveys, Vigilance Committees, and Revenue Divisional Officers are emphasized as crucial components. The importance of periodic surveys, empowered Vigilance Committees, swift release mechanisms, and offender prosecution is stressed to effectively dismantle the system. Rehabilitation is considered vital to prevent relapses into bondage and promote sustainable livelihoods, aligning with national and international initiatives.

Keywords:Bonded Labour, Liberations Strategies, Systematic Exploitation, Slavery, Economic Causes, Liberation Process, Rehabilitation, Tamil Nadu