Modern Day Slavery in India
For many, the end of slavery was the day the Emancipation Proclamation was announced by Abraham Lincoln, but now over a hundred years later slavery is still occurring.
Today, there are around 31,000,000 slaves in the world who are relying on hope. India, the home to around half the world’s slaves, has 14,000,000 slaves who are forced to work and pay off the debt they owe to their employers. Slaves all over the world, including those in India, live in fear of being punished for doing their work wrong. Similar to the slaves on the plantations, each day they work and that is all they do. They suffer from diseases and pains and they live in suffrage. Their children are forced to work and pay off their parents’ debt.
For hundreds of years slavery has been around without end and similar to Frederick Douglass, slaves have many desires and being free is a want and a wish that they all strive for. Slaves are forced to work, they are required to stay with their masters, and they are poorly fed which are all characteristics of Frederick Douglass’ life. In opposition, modern day slaves are in their position because of debt and there is a way for them to be free. Slavery should have ended many years ago, but it didn’t and today many live through slavery in fear. Just as Frederick Douglass was, modern day slaves are compelled to work.
They work in harsh conditions and fear beatings and violence due to inhumane work. The Indian slaves suffer from diseases and illnesses spread by others similar to the lives of slaves on the plantations. Thirty one year old Kishan, a slave in present day India, tells of his life as a slave and the work he is required to do; “I have been working in a quarry, cutting stones from the raw rock for more than 16 years. I am not happy with this work. My wife also works with me making Rs. 60 to 90 (USD 1 to 1.
50) a day. We get skin problems, colds and coughs. Our eyes also get infected. We also suffer from back pain and joint pain.” He makes 60 to 90 rupees a day which is equivalent to 1 to 1.
5 US dollar. Because of all the work they are forced to do, they get sick and suffer from injuries and pains. They have no choice but to work because the slaves and their masters have discordant opinions about freedom. Because of their masters, the slaves are manifesting actions of animals similar to the plantation slaves who seemed like nothing more than that to their masters. Indians are threatened by sexual and physical violence while plantation slaves were whipped and beaten.
The beatings received were ineffable and they caused some slaves to die. An LATimes article explains how they are beaten and in one case they found a girl beaten and badly bruised with cuts and gashes which were caused by her employer or master. Work is cruel and miserable and the masters are impudent and feel no mercy for the slaves. The slaves have to exercise prudence in order to avoid the grueling punishments that they could receive. Fear of being beaten or even death came with everything they did and slaves in Frederick’s experience and today live their lives deprived of many things. Different than the experience of Frederick Douglass, slaves in modern day are in their position because of debt.
They are contrived to sell their labor to their employers in order to pay off the debt they owe. Their debt is then passed on to their children and each of them are enslaved and required to work. In Frederick’s experience, as a baby he was taken from his mother and brought to a plantation where he began his life of slavery. In other cases, slaves were kidnapped, taken to auction, and sold and transported to an owner of a plantation. The owners conjectured the abilities and lives the slaves had and just bought them so that they could have another worker. Slavery changes a life and the life of each slave was changed dramatically the day they became a slave.
Although it isn’t very welcoming, for the modern day slaves of India there is a safe way to be free. These slaves have the opportunity to be free if they pay off the debt they owe to their employers. If they pay off their debt at once the work they have to do is limited to one working season. Therefore, they can pay off their loans and debt and it will not be passed on to their children. On the other hand, slaves like Frederick had no hope in becoming free unless they took a risk.
Due to the existence of the Underground Railroad, slaves could wait for a conductor, a person who led slaves to safe places, to come to their plantation. The conductors would then lead them to a safe place where they would then be guided to the North and taken to a place where they could go live freely like Canada. Some slaves would even run away without the aid of a conductor, instead they would travel on their own. Whether with the help of a conductor or not, a slave who attempted to escape was risking their life and if caught they would be whipped and beaten and depending on their master they could be killed. It is easier for a slave to be freed in India compared to the past, however, it isn’t that much easier. Slavery may have ended in many people’s opinions, however, those beliefs they have are wrong.
Today, India has over fourteen million slaves and slavery is also in other countries like Pakistan. They live miserable lives full of despair and hardship. “Abolition of slavery had been the deepest desire and the great labor of my life”, Frederick Douglass. Their hope of emancipation is slim and they are forced to work because of debt they owe to their employers. Each slave has one thing they reach for and that’s freedom and they all strive to make that happen just as Frederick did.
The only thing that keeps them going is the hope of freedom. Slaves in modern day are living lives similar to those experiences of Frederick Douglass with masters who hector them into doing many things. Both of their lives were and are filled with hard work and cruel lifestyle. The slaves execrate their masters because they beat them often and treat them like animals rather than humans. On the other hand, modern day slaves are in their position because of debt rather than auctions. The way of being free is different for both types of slaves and for Frederick it involved a much bigger risk.
Slavery deprives a person of a normal life with normal rights and normal hope and it is unfortunate to think that it may still be a part of this world for many years to come.