I hope all has been well for everyone. Today I would like to discuss briefly about the history of slavery in India. The topic came about when talking with a friend about modern day slavery and social repercussions on the society and the individual. I would like to elaborate on some legislation passed regarding slavery in India and what the nation has done to change the current problem.
Slavery is a historically pervasive institution seen in most cultures in some capacity from early times and, though illegal, continues today. The usual forms of acquiring people were (and still) as follow, in any culture:
- conquering of peoples
- debt bondage
- selling oneself
- selling child(ren)
Most slaves in India originally worked as house servants and after Islamic conquerors, an increase of slavery occurred. The institution of slavery was little documented, beyond being recorded in Sanskrit Laws of Manu, until the British colonials in the 19th century made it an object of study because of their desire to abolish it. Owning slaves expressed an owner's prestige and power by both the British and Indians. The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 of the British Parliament abolished slavery throughout the empire (with a few exceptions). The Act was repealed in 1998 but other anti-slavery legislation remains in force.
In India, the Indian Constitution integrated laws from the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, and United States, including laws regarding human rights. Currently, Indian laws adhere to international United Nations' guidelines of human rights laws.
India (and not the United States) ratified the Forced Labor Convention (No.29) in 1930. The convention of defines forced labor as "all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily."
Yet, how does India have the largest concentration of slaves in the world?
The mechanisms of bonded labor, brothels, and forced/fake marriages coerce people to work in poor and inhumane conditions initiating sexual and industry exploitation. Local and international slave traders encourage the exchange of the body and spirit to the unfortunate unable to navigate socioeconomic situations
References and Other Resources:
Recent NPR article, India, China Top List Of Nations With Most Slaves: http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2013/10/17/236212198/india-china-top-list-of-nations-with-most-slaves
Slavery in India (in three parts):