Reasons for bonded labour should be analysed: former Supreme Court Judge
A vigilant civil society, dedicated non-governmental organisations, pro-active judiciary, honest and committed law-enforcing agencies, meaningful and purposeful media are vital to eradicate social evils such as bonded labour, according to former Supreme Court Judge Shivraj V.Patil.
He was addressing a gathering at Society for Community Organisation (SOCO) Trust here on Saturday after releasing ‘Bonded Labour in Tamil Nadu from Sangam Period to Sumangali Scheme,’ a book authored by B.Thirumalai, a senior journalist, and S.Selva Gomathi, deputy director of SOCO Trust.
The first copy was received by Gurusamy of Rangasamipuram, who was rescued from bonded labour in Madhya Pradesh in 1983.
“Bonded labour is a serious cause for concern. The reasons for the prevalence of bonded labour even today, its cascading effects and the consequences should be analysed and remedies found. We need to think whether the present legal framework and the statutory provisions are enough to eradicate bonded labour,” Mr.Patil said.
He said, “The book richly deserves to be translated into all regional languages and English for better reach. The book should be distributed to libraries across the State, particularly the ones in the village panchayats where the bonded labour system is prevalent,” he insisted.
Maria Sathya, former national project manager of International Labour Organisation, said Sumangali scheme encouraged dowry indirectly.
“The scheme is a modern form of slavery. The people are ignorant of the fact that they are subjected to a kind of bonded labour. The structure and recruitment policies of brick kilns and private companies should be regularised,” she said.
Mr.Thirumalai said a large number of people were working as bonded labourers in various sectors without realising that they were subjected to a modern form of slavery.
“People who work in textile showrooms and even IT companies are oblivious to the fact that they are bonded labourers. The book traces the various forms of bonded labour prevalent in Tamil Nadu for over 2,500 years,” he said.
Mr.Gurusamy said, “I am entitled to three cents of land from the government. I was provided the land, but a few influential people in my village took it from me and two others, who were rescued along with me. We live in an absolute poverty now.”