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Control population to abolish bonded labour: NHRC official praises Emergency policy

By Rajiv Shah

A senior National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) official, Justice PC Pant, wants the population control policy initiated by Sanjay Gandhi during the Emergency days to return in order to end bonded labour. Speaking on the occasion of a virtual book release function, Justice Pant, who is member NHRC, and was Supreme Court judge between 2014 and 2017, recalled, “During 1975-76 under the 20-point programme there was not only emphasis on abolition of bonded labour but also population control.”
Releasing the book “Bondage: Human Rights & Development” virtually along with Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi, Justice Pant made this remark while referring to the its pages which state, Dr BR Ambedkar as the first labour minister of India “was of the view that by enacting the law alone, bonded labour system cannot be eradicated.”
Taking a different view from Ambedkar, Justice Pant said, “May I add here that during 1975-76 under 20-point programme there was not only emphasis on abolition of bonded labour but also population control. Unless we work on that, bonded labour system will remain there in one form or the other.”
He underlined, “Increasing population neutralizes all efforts aimed to eradicate poverty which is the root cause of bonded labour, child labour or other forms of forced labour and trafficking.”
Published by Vitasta Publications, the book is authored by Dr Lakshmidhar Mishra, a retired IAS bureaucrat. Following the release of the book, a panel discussion took place on the impact of Covid-19 on incidence of child bonded labour, where speakers highlighted how the recent lockdown due to the pandemic brought “untold miseries to more than 40 million migrant labourers.”
“Thousands of anxious men, women and children walked hundreds of kilometers on the highways in worn out footwear or bare feet to escape the hunger and starvation which they were confronted with having been rendered jobless due to the lockdown”, a communique released by the Kamal Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, an NGO set up by the Nobel laureate, said, giving details of the panel discussion.
“The heartrending images of these people were beamed into our bedrooms by the electronic media causing pain, anguish and consternation to everyone”, it said, making the book release an occasion to highlight the plight of migrant labourers is fresh in the memory of the entire country. The Satyarthi Global Policy Institute for Children (SGPIC) organised the function.
A 1964 batch IAS official, Dr Mishra has been Union labour and parliamentary affairs secretary (1996-2000), advisor to the International Labour Organization (2000-2003), special rapporteur, National Human Rights Commission (2006-11), and special advisor, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (2011-12). Currently he is independent advisor to the International Justice Mission, an international NGO, as also member of a committee constituted by the Delhi High Court to investigate labour irregularities connected with the Delhi Commonwealth Games, 2010.
The book “exposes” the state’s failure in upholding the rights of vulnerable families and children, even as making “a clarion call” to the state and the law enforcement functionaries to enforce law with zeal and devotion bringing an end to the miseries of millions of people including children who are still in bondage, the Satyarthi Foundation communique said.
“His book is expected to provoke debate, discussions and introspection among the state and non-state stakeholders in eradication of bondage from our society and analyse as to where we as a society have gone wrong and failed the poor of our country”, it adds.
Dr Lakshmidhar Mishra
Dr Mishra stated on the occasion, “Even after five decades of the human rights declaration and our constitution recognizing human bondage as a serious crime, there is still no decline in the cases of bonded labour, leaving the generations of marginalized families to face the brunt of failure of the system and state.”
Satyarthi, who released the book along with Justice Pant, said, “The moral commitment, wisdom and compassion of Dr Mishra over decades towards children and bonded labour is inspiring. When we started back in 1980, not only were we repeatedly confronted by those who employed and exploited children, but also had to fight against the mindset that considered child labour normative.”
The Nobel laureate added, “This pandemic too has exposed and exacerbated the deep inequalities faced by the most marginalised section of our society, that continue to perpetuate bondage. This book written by Dr Mishra is a valuable addition to his luminous works that will act as a treasure cove for anyone who is driven to bring an end to slavery in the world.”

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
The very word Emergency sends shivers down the spine, but there is no doubt that we need to control the population. In fact, I believe that most of the problems in the country today are because of unemployment, which in turn, is because of over-population. Even the rapes and murders are, in my opinion, due to men being frustrated because they have nothing to do and these acts give them a feeling of power.

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