Addressing modern slavery in India: A Call for Action

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July 2, 2023

Addressing modern slavery in India: A Call for Action


  • India, despite its rapid economic growth and global influence, faces a grave challenge: being at the top of the Global Slavery Index 2023, with an estimated 11 million people trapped in modern slavery.
  • The Walk Free Foundation’s report sheds light on the urgent need for comprehensive measures to combat this issue.
  • This article aims to reframe the report’s central idea, highlight the contributing factors, discuss manifestations in global supply chains, assess India’s measures against modern slavery, and propose a way forward.

The Magnitude of Modern Slavery:

  • The Global Slavery Index reveals that the number of individuals living in conditions of modern slavery has risen by 25% over the past five years, reaching a staggering 50 million people worldwide. The report emphasizes the significant contribution of G20 nations, including India, to this increase due to their trade operations and global supply chains.

Understanding Modern Slavery:

  • Modern slavery encompasses various exploitative practices such as forced labor, forced marriage, debt bondage, commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, and the sale and exploitation of children. It involves coercive measures that prevent individuals from refusing or leaving such situations. Factors like climate change, armed conflict, weak governance, and health emergencies further exacerbate the rise of modern slavery.

Manifestations in Global Supply Chains:

  • The report highlights the prevalence of forced labor across different stages of the global supply chain, with industries like textiles particularly affected. Exploitative conditions, unpaid work, low wages, debt bondage, and health and safety risks are rampant, especially in sectors such as spinning mills. G20 countries collectively import billions of dollars’ worth of goods produced through forced labor each year.

India’s Efforts and Challenges:

  • India has enacted laws such as the Bonded Labour Abolition Act of 1976 to address modern slavery. However, implementation challenges, corruption, legal loopholes, and political obstacles hinder effective enforcement of these laws. Additionally, the identification and enumeration of individuals trapped in modern slavery conditions need improvement.

Proposed Strategies for Combating Modern Slavery:

  • Strengthen Measures and Legislation: Enact stronger laws to prevent the sourcing of goods and services associated with modern slavery.
  • Embed Anti-Slavery Measures in Climate Change Plans: Integrate anti-slavery efforts into sustainability plans, acknowledging the link between climate change and vulnerability to modern slavery.
  • Enhance Education and Tighten Regulations: Provide accessible education while tightening regulations on forced labor, child marriage, and exploitative practices.
  • Prioritize Rehabilitation and Support: Establish comprehensive support systems for the rehabilitation of bonded laborers, including financial aid, education, job security, and fair compensation.
  • Hold G20 Nations Accountable and Foster Cooperation: Ensure accountability among G20 nations and promote collaborative efforts to eliminate modern slavery.

The Conclusion:

The Global Slavery Index 2023 report serves as a wake-up call for policymakers, activists, researchers, and organizations to address the pressing issue of modern slavery in India. By implementing the recommended strategies and raising awareness, we can work towards eradicating modern slavery, protecting human rights, and building a more just and equitable society.

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Addressing modern slavery in India: A Call for Action | Vaid ICS Institute