MAJOR ACTIVITIES OF FSD ORGANIZATION

Implementation of Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act to prevent human trafficking & Bonded Labour System;

The FSD organization is working with weaker sections to reach the goal of social justice and economic equality. This involves in promotion of peoples’ federations to advocate for their fundamental rights, educational, health, economic and social needs, working to enforce the laws, policies, schemes and implementing socio-economic development projects to challenge inequality, poverty and the protection of human rights by utilizing constitutional rights. FSD works against the bonded labour and human trafficking system in various States in India to louder the voice of the vulnerable people by enforcing the laws to protect the rights of victims.

There are more than 270 million people living below the poverty line in India. Displacement, Discrimination, Exploitation, Unemployment, Homelessness, Illiteracy are remains as major challenges. According to government statistics, some 75 percent of rural workers and 69 percent of urban workers are in the informal economy and it impacts on vulnerability. These workers face risks associated with a highly unregulated and unmonitored work environment, particularly women and children face number of issues and they are the most vulnerable. Vulnerability to slavery in India has some common elements, with poverty, ignorance and the lack of capacity to absorb shocks, and deep structural inequalities reflecting gender, caste and tribe all being highly relevant.

Bonded labour - or debt bondage - is probably the least known
form of slavery today, and yet it is the most widely used method of enslaving people. A person becomes a bonded labourer when their labour is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan. The person
is then tricked or trapped into working for very little or no pay. Bonded Labour simply means slavery in the modern society, and an amazingly large number of people are currently bonded labourers in various sectors.

The Global Slavery Index reported that in India alone, over 18,354,700 people are trapped as bonded labourers, forced labourers, commercial sexual exploitation, child soldiers, forced beggars and so on. According to the Harvard University’s Prof.Siddharth Kara, over 1.11 crore bonded labourers in India. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimated that over 11.7 million bonded labourers in India. In India alone, the International Justice Mission (IJM) has been involved in the release of over 12,500 victims of bonded labour and sex trafficking, and assisted the rehabilitation of more than 8,000 survivors in the last 10 years. The highest number is from scheduled tribe communities. Over 65 million people were trafficked for forced labour in India. A survey of rescued bonded labourers stated that 94% of victims are from SC/ST communities. Industries found to be involved in this form of modern day slavery include but are not restricted to brick-kilns, rice-mills, woodcutting, rock quarries, carpet weaving, beedi factories, glass factories, production of firewood coal, sugar-cane cutting, animal farming, agriculture, hotels, beggary, gem stones, mining and watch people for plantations.

FSD alone rescued over 3000 bonded labourers during the period of last four-years. Among the rescued victims, about 98% of the bonded labourers are due to indebtedness and 2% due to customary social obligations. The motto of the FSD is to eradicate Bonded Labour System in India with special focus on vulnerable adivasi communities by transforming the Public Justice System.

 

Empowering rural & tribal women to overcome poverty & injustice through strengthening of Self-help groups with livelihood development activities;
To empower the most marginalized communities with rights perspective by listening to the people with the aim of understanding the context of their specific condition and situation. Through exploring their concerns and opportunities to build capacity, the development process is facilitated without compromising quality of service, time and social work values. This is the mission of FSD organization. In this perspective, we are implementing women’s empowerment programme to overcome poverty and strengthening self-help groups to improve their livelihoods.

Tribal people possess very small and uneconomical land-holdings and depending on natural resources for their livelihoods - that are repeatedly controlled and restricted by forest departments and forcefully occupied by the companies that resulted among the innocent people that created poverty over 70% among the tribal population and 77% are still illiterate and about 51% are displaced in search of employments and many forced to work as bonded labourers. To address these issues, we are implementing various activities such as Organizing village visits and community meetings for resource mapping; Identifying, classifying and reviving suitable livelihoods with women’s participation; Conducting meetings, trainings and awareness events to overcome injustice and inequality; Implementing various types of livelihood activities such as minor forest production, millets collection, developing flower garden, vegetable garden, provision store, helping for ladies tailoring, petty shops, village hotels and others; Improving livelihood models with marketing support through self-help group approach; Linking with state rural livelihood mission for project sustainability and continuity; Increasing women’s voice and their leadership against discrimination & exploitation; Working with district administration for basic need, fundamental rights and entitlements; Promoting tribal women’s development by accessing bank loans, and other welfare schemes; Activating adivasi women’s participation in local self-government and in gram-shabas; Enhancing living condition of adivasi people with government tribal welfare departments; and Documenting case studies, successful stories and replicating best practices.

Tribal Women spends almost 80 percent of their time in collecting fuel wood, fodder, grass, NTFP (Non Timber Forest Produce) etc. from the forest and they are more close to nature and but still living in extreme poverty because, lack of opportunities and scope. Tribal women knows the techniques of forest protection, biodiversity conservation, sustainable usage of natural resources and livelihood developments but they have not given chance for utilizing the natural resources properly for overcoming poverty and their traditional knowledge is not recognized. Hence, there is opportunity for overcoming poverty by utilizing the forest resources sustainably and also by building confident among them will bring adivasi empowerment. In this aspect, we are working the project strategies based on in-depth plan and experiences with people, therefore it is bringing good results and trying to replicate other areas of this livelihood model for socio-economic, educational and identity rights of adivasi communities. We implement the planned project activities, as cost-benefit process that means very low budget and greater results and impacts are always replicable with the approach of transformation of best practices with women’s leadership. During the past, 67 villages and over 5000 people are benefitting through this women’s empowerment project in 4 districts of Tamilnadu State.

Promotion of Mother-Tongue Based Multi-Lingual Education (MTMLE) through implementation of ECCE policy;

“Every child in this world should enjoy their childhood, shall have equal opportunity to get care, protection, love, progress, nutrition, sanitation, education and quality living standard”.

Adivasi Children, today, are experiencing various types of discrimination, negligence. No support for family, no pre-school, and non-availability of formal schools in tribal areas. Even the basic and fundamental rights such as drinking water, food, shelter, sanitation, health, cloth and care / love are not accessible by the tribal children of all ages. Poor functions of Anganwadis, ICDS centers, no teachers and No monitoring process on the state centers. Non-promotion of mother tongue based multi—lingual education in tribal areas / villages. Lack of appointment of tribal teachers/educators and poor foundation & transition from pre-school to primary education. To promote mother tongue based multilingual education, we have undertaken national campaign with NACDIP support.

Scientific evidence across the globe says that the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) is an indispensable foundation for lifelong learning and development and has critical impact on success at the primary stage of education. The Constitution of India has also recognized the significance of ECCE under the Article 45, which lays down that the state shall endeavour to provide ECCE for all children until they complete the age of six years. Planning Commission of India has also advocated for the provision of pre-school education in the age group of 3-6 years. But the current situation of ICDS in tribal areas of the state has become a matter of concern for all of us. Most of the tribal children do not have access to and/or attend pre-school education. Anganwadi Centres (AWC) preschool education program do not cover the hamlets and small villages and the poor children are deprived of Early Childhood Care & Education. There is need for mother tongue based multi lingual education along with better healthcare and nutrition. Early Childhood is acknowledged as the most crucial period in a person’s life, when the rate of development is very high and foundations are laid for cumulative lifelong learning and human development. There is growing scientific evidence that the development of the brain in the early years is a pathway that affects physical and mental health, learning and behaviour throughout the life cycle.

Early Childhood Care and Education, UNESCO (2007) points out the overlooked advantages of multilingual education in the early years. When children are offered opportunities to learn in their mother tongue, they are more likely to enroll and succeed in school and their parents are more likely to communicate with teachers and participate in their children’s learning. There is necessity for implementation of Mother Tongue Based Multi-Lingual Early Childhood Education in all Anganwadi centers in tribal areas. Mother, motherland and Mother tongue are very dear to every human being. Language which mother speaks is the first language of everyone. As per our model children from the age group of 0 to 4 years will learn exclusively in mother tongue and from 4-6 years they learn mother tongue, regional language like Tamil, national language like Hindi and international language like English. Early Education in mother Tongue will help every child to understand and help the child to develop intellectually and psychologically and it helps to create strong foundation for continues education of the poor children in the Society. One of the works is creating opportunities for the tribal women as a center facilitator in ICDS Centers. So, that the mother tongue based multilingual early childhood education can be implemented successfully in tribal areas and it will reduce dropouts to zero%.

Language is an essential part of, and intrinsically linked to, indigenous peoples’ ways of life, culture and identities. Languages embody many indigenous values and concepts and contain indigenous peoples’ histories and development. They are fundamental markers of indigenous peoples’ distinctiveness and cohesiveness as peoples. Language describes cultural attachment to place, cultural heritage items, and puts meaning within the many cultural activities that people do. Furthermore, language plays a fundamental part in binding communities together as a culture, and individuals to each other in a society. Our language is sacred to us. Every adivasi language is sacred for those who speak it. The land of nature gives words to us and those words are sacred.

Mother tongue-based education, especially benefits disadvantaged groups, including children from tribal / rural communities and girls, who tend to have less exposure to an official language. Research also confirms that children learn best in their mother tongue as a prelude to and complement of bilingual and multilingual education. Whether children successfully retain their mother tongue while acquiring additional languages; depends on several interacting factors. Hence, it is most important that we give educational opportunities to all children with MT-MLE approach for the great future of the children of today.

 

Enhancing skills and capacities of the adolescent girls to fight against disadvantages and to increase self-confidence with the approach of responsible leadership;

In the current context, the adolescents/ teenager are the most vulnerable to development issues and facing all forms of discriminations including hunger, poverty, human trafficking, forceful migration, gender inequality, inadequate communication, injustice, abuse, lack of awareness on sexual & reproductive rights, issue of illegal abortion, health care, lack of opportunities, right to quality & professional education, sanitation, lack of attention and security. An adolescent of the society is very important for establishing the world with justice and equality.

Adolescents’ age is very critical and crucial stage and they have to overcome biologically, psychologically, emotionally and socially. In the areas such as rural and tribal villages, the adolescents’ population unable to coop with new developments. Many are in distress, depression, insecurity, and needed a guide who can be a best psychological supporter, legal advisor and educational promoter and relationship builder that is where we are establishing a strong role for the protection and promotion of adolescents rights in the rural areas.

In a democratic country we should use the available legal provisions for activating government to implement better schemes, awareness and security of the adolescents. We have legal provisions including preamble that talks on Justice, liberty, equality, & fraternity for all the citizens including children & youngsters. Under the fundamental rights in Article 14: Equality before law & equal protection of laws. It is available to every person including adolescents, and Article 15 (3): empowers the State to make special legal provision for children and youth. It makes mandate to the government to ensure adolescents welfare constitutionally. Laws such as The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, (POCSO) 2012, The Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986, The Child Marriage Restraint Act (CMR), 1986, The Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act, 2000, The Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 2002 and various guidelines of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

International legal frameworks including the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), 1979 which is an international treaty ratified by India on 9th July 1993, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), 1966 on which India acceded to the Convention on 10th April 1979, another Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), 1989 which India agreed to the Convention on 11th December 1992; all these are important for protecting and promoting rights of the adolescents. However millions of youngsters are unaware about their rights and responsibilities. Similarly stakeholders are not recognizing these rights and not facilitating the adolescents. Hence there is need for taking this rights-based education to the rural and tribal areas among the children and adolescents. We have made some experiment and it created effective impacts.

Adolescents - neither children nor adults and they face problems to coop with new changes. Adolescents have to challenge issues such as insecurities, biological changes, mind-sets, attitude, identity, anemia, health needs, ethical values and acceptance in the family, school, society and in the social order.

Rehabilitation of the Freed Bonded Labourers with people’s participation and applying legal provisions:

ROLE OF FSD
Focused domains on rehabilitation:

Rehabilitation of the rescued bonded labourers is vital for the sustainable development of the freed bonded labourers. Hence, the FSD organization undertakes various activities under the rehabilitation aspect such as obtaining release certificate, protection letters, providing medical assistance, emergency help including food, temporary shelter, initiating government assistance through completing initial assessment form, psycho-social counseling to recover from trauma/ strain/ stress, organizing freedom training, obtaining entitlement rights like free house, voter card, aadhar card, ration card, rural employment guarantee card, developing family development form, school admission, support for technical education, community certificates, formation of self-help groups, accessing welfare schemes, uniting family, integrating with other government schemes and empowering community. We undertake rehabilitation program as basic rights of the rescued bonded labourers and it is obligation of the government.

THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA

Article 38: It is the duty of the State to secure a social order for the promotion of welfare of the people and eliminate inequalities.

Article 39A: The State shall secure equal justice, equal opportunity and free legal aid to all the citizens and safeguard the vulnerable people.

Article 43: The State shall promote living wages for the workers and ensure a decent standard of life for its citizens.

Article 46: It is the duty of the State to promote educational and economic interests of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections.

Article 47: Duty of the State to provide better nutrition, improve public health and promote standard of living of everyone.

THE LAW:

According to the Section 11 & 12 of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976, providing rehabilitation to the victims of bonded labour system is a primary duty of the government. To promote the welfare of the freed bonded labourer by securing and protecting the economic interests of rescued bonded labourer is one of the important role of the District Magistrate.

Section 14 (1) sub-section (b) & (c) talks about the role of Vigilance committees to provide the economic and social rehabilitation of the freed bonded labourers as well as create bank linkages for adequate credit to the freed bonded labouers. And monitor the schemes and programs under the rehabilitation so that the rescued person will get all benefits.

OUR STRATEGIES TO END THE BONDED LABOUR

1. Education – Raising Awareness on equality & demanding justice
2. Constitution – Understanding & Educating on the vision of the Preamble
3. Legislation – Utilizing laws which gives legal rights and lawful action
4. Implementation – Interpretation and application of rules in Identification, Rescue, Rehabilitation & Prosecution process
5. Mobilization – Organizing vulnerable community at the grassroots level & creating people’s voice for the justice to combat against human trafficking and bonded labour system.

Acknowledgements:

The International Justice Mission (IJM), Australian High Commission under the Direct Aid Program (AHC), SWELECT Energy Ltd, and Bernard Van Leer Foundation (BVLF) through PREM (Odisha) are supporting the projects of the FSD organization.