Internet giant Google's india office gave a grant of INR. 4,60,00,000 /- to ActionAid India in its mission to fight bonded labour and human trafficking in India. This is part of a grant of USD 115 million and more than USD 1 billion of in-kind support to the non-profit and academic institutions across the world.
Armed with this grant ActionAid India will engage in local, regional and national level mobilization, campaign and advocacy around the issue of bonded labour in five states of India - Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Our focus will be on demanding stronger enforcement of the bonded labour Act, mobilization of bonded labour, their rescue, relief and rehabilitation and lobbying at the national level with policy makers and government departments to improve laws against the practice of bonded labour.
"While the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 of India abolishes and illegalizes bonded labour, and holds such employers guilty allowing progress to be made nationally, there still remain pockets in different states where this practice continues. New forms of bonded labour are seen in today’s market driven economy especially within the feudal, caste and identity based fabric of India. " says Sandeep Chachra, Executive Director, ActionAid India.
“ActionAid India has long years of efforts in identifying and promoting processes of release and rehabilitation of bonded labour in India. In the last year alone working with several civil society groups in states like Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Karnataka, we have been able to release over 300 bonded labourers, and also supported them for rehabilitation,” he adds.
Rescue and rehabilitation
ActionAid India will work towards rescue and release of about 3000 bonded labourers over a period three years. About 1500 bonded labourers will be provided with alternative livelihood options. Rescued bonded labourers would also be linked with various government programmes and schemes such as MGNREGA (a rural employment guarantee) and PDS (food schemes for those below poverty line).
Legal support will be provided to 300 bonded labourers to fight legal cases against their employers for cases of cheating and harassment, to get their due wages, for their land or for access to Government’s welfare entitlements.
Long term engagement
ActionAid India would focus on mobilization and collectivization of bonded labourers to empower them to access their rights. Meetings and consultations will be held with the bonded labourers in their villages/mandals/districts/states to educate them about their rights and different legislations. These will play a proactive role in ensuring effective implementation of legislations like Abolition of bonded labor Acts and government schemes as well as demanding critical amendments to it.
“ActionAid remains committed to this cause and is heartened to get support from individuals and organizations on issues such as these that have been ignored for far too long. We will be using the lessons we have learnt on the ground to bear on policy changes nationally,” says Sandeep Chachra.