Bonded labour, also known as Bandhua Mazdoori, has been a long standing problem in India. Under this system, persons are forced to pledge their labour services as a security for repayment of debt or other obligations. Due to heavy nature of debt, these persons effectively become the “property” of the money lenders or persons of influence. Bonded Labour System is a social evil and exists in India despite constitutional provisions for its total eradication.


Use of bonded labour for:

  • Providing cheap domestic labour for rich households in rural and urban areas.
  • Using cheap bonded labour to work in factories producing cheap goods for international markets. Hence, bonded labour even becomes part of worldwide supply chain.
  • Bonded labour is also a means to attain societal power in rural areas by ownership of large numbers of Bandhua labour by large Zamindars and people of influence.
  • Caste dynamics


The International Labour Organization has pointed out various obstacles in the path of removing bonded labour in India. These are:

  • Large numbers of bonded labours are Dalits in India. Hence caste rigidity and rules play a significant role in perpetrating bonded labour.
  • Dalits face other social problems like boycott, rape, arson, robbery etc. if they resist against bonded labour.
  • Extreme poverty also forces bonded labour on poor people.
  • Direct or Indirect involvement of private companies are they use bonded labours to produce goods at cheap rates.


Action by Government, NGOs and other organisation:


  • The BLS(A) Act, 1976 was enacted to completely outlaw this practice.
  • Bandhua Mukti Morcha has worked closely with international and national organizations to eradicate bonded labour in India.
  • Human Rights Watch has launched various programs in India to eradicate bonded labour in the silk industry.
  • International Labour Organization and UN have passed legislations against bonded labour.
  • Rehabilitation Scheme of 1978 has been able to free 2.82 lakh Bonded Labourers in 18 States across 172 districts in the country during the past 38 years.


Rehabilitation Scheme for Bonded Labour

  1. Making bonded labour rehabilitation a Central Sponsored Scheme
  2. The Scheme proposes to increase the budget provision from Rs 5 crores to about Rs 47 crores per annum.
  3. Now, the most deprived and marginalised like the disabled, female and children rescued from trafficking, sexual exploitation and transgender will get higher funds.
  4. Address new forms of bondage such as organized begging rings, forced prostitution and child labour for which females, disabled and transgender are exploited.


Bonded labour are persons who have “pledged” their labour and services as security for repayment of debt, or other obligation. Many times, the children of bonded labour are forced into the bonded labourship if they are not able to repay their debt.

  • This is informally known as “bandhau labour”.
  • Also referred to as debt bondage or debt slavery.
  • Institutional and Legislative Framework:
  • The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act provides a vigilance committee at district and sub-divisional levels in each state and Union territory for identification, release, and rehabilitation.
  • Schemes:
  • Bonded labour scheme that aims to raise financial assistance to bonded labour from Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 1 lakh each.
  • Other points:
  • Kailash Satyarthi’s Bachpan Bachao Andolan