BANDHUA MUKTI MORCHA (BLLF)
of a Kind
persists in our age in various forms. The bonded labour system
is one of them. Child labour is another kind of bonded labour.
Both arise out of socio-economic and historical reasons. India,
the largest democratic country in the world, has 65 million bonded
child labourers, and 300 million adult labourers living a life of
bondage and contemporary forms of slavery, according to our estimates.
This is despite Constitutional guarantees and prohibitive laws like
the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976, the Child labour
(Prohibition and Regulation Act) 1986 and International Conventions
on the subject. Child labour (5 years to 14 years of age)
is rampant not only in agriculture but also in industries such as
those manufacturing matches, locks, carpets, stone quarries,
brick kilns, tanneries and diamond cutting and polishing units.
These children are denied their fundamental right to childhood,
to education, to play and to dream like a normal child. They have
to labour for more than 8 hours every day. Legal and human rights
battles on their behalf have been successfully fought in the Supreme
Court of India. Parliament too has been approached. United Nations
Human Rights Commission, ILO and UNICEF have been sensitised. Yet,
the 20 year-old struggle is only a beginning. A lot more remains
to be done.
Labour Liberation Front(Bandhua Mukti Morcha)
Mukti Morcha (BMM) was formed in 1981 to wage a battle against
the pernicious bonded labour system in India. Administrative and
political will to carry out the Constitutional mandate and enforce
prohibitive laws of the land failed to produce any results. Against
all odds, Bandhua Mukti Morcha has achieved the release of
over 1,24,000 bonded Indians from the shackles of slavery.
A large number of them have been rehabilitated. From the Carpet
Industry alone, about a thousand children have been rescued and
restored to their parents. Their rehabilitation has been monitored
effectively. BMM has started a campaign for the provision of
non-formal, full time education for these children, alongwith the
supply of nutrition to each and also some food security to their
a result of BMMís efforts, the leaders of the leading political
parties have expressed their concern on the issue of child labour
and often made a mention of it in their election manifestos in Parliamentary
elections. Bandhua Mukti Morcha has been campaigning for a national
minimum wage equivalent to first-day salary of a class IV employee
in Government service. Its revision is to be done on cost price
index as is done for the Government employees. The State Governments
may fix minimum wage according to the local conditions but not below
the National Minimum Wage.
Mukti Morcha has been making a demand for a National Commision on
Bonded Labour with judicial and financial powers. But successive
governments have failed to do so. Bandhua Mukti Morcha has, therefore,
constituted a Citizensí Commission on Bonded and Child Labour, with
eminent persons of political, social and judicial integrity as members.
They include former Judges of the Supreme Court of India, eminent
artists, journalists, lawyers and social activists.