The second edition of the Global Slavery Index has been released and India tops the list: of all countries, India is estimated to have the most number of people who live like slaves. Pakistan and India together have a little under half the world’s people who live under slave-like conditions. In total, around 38.5 million are estimated to live such abject lives of human deprivation, and India accounts for 14 million of them. That, as The Times of India put it, makes this the ‘slave capital of the world’.
The study notes: ‘Across India’s population of over 1.2 billion people, all forms of modern slavery, including inter-generational bonded labour, trafficking for sexual exploitation, and forced marriage, exist… members of lower castes and tribes, religious minorities, and migrant workers are disproportionately affected by modern slavery. Modern slavery occurs in brick kilns, carpet weaving, embroidery and other textile manufacturing, forced prostitution, agriculture, domestic servitude, mining, and organised begging rings. Bonded labour is particularly prevalent throughout India, with families enslaved for generations.’
As a percentage of the population who have been enslaved, Mauritania is on top with 4 per cent. Indian is fifth by that measure, at 1.2 per cent. Other countries worse than India are Uzbekistan, Haiti and Qatar.
This year, Walk Free, which conducts the study, also measured the response of governments to slavery. With AA the highest rating, India gets a CCC, which is below B but better than CC, C and D.
Dalits were said to be the most vulnerable. The report said, ‘The limited ability [of] people to move out of this [caste] group increases their vulnerability.’