Bonded and Migrant Labourers: Sociology YouTube Lecture Handouts

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  • The bonded labours is a social system
  • When a person is forced to work to pay off a debt
  • Double burden of caste and class
  • Feudal hierarchical society
  • Industrialization and emergence of private property made conditions worse
  • Landless class, Unpaid/ beggar
  • Victim of exploitation, natural calamities, debts, loss of land due to non-payment, etc.
  • Bonded Labour Abolition Act, 1976
  • Bonded labour system by definition: “the relationship between a creditor and a debtor who obtains loan owing to economic compulsions confronting his day-to-day life, and agrees to abide by the terms dictated by the creditor” .
  • Debtor agrees to provide or mortgage his services or services of any or all the members of his family (succession) for a specified or unspecified period.
  • Low or no payment received
  • Not allowed to sell his products in market
  • Main cause –
  • Zamindari system
  • Indebtedness and forced labour
  • Low wage work
  • No added benefits
  • Modern day slavery
  • Unequal terms
  • Indebtedness caused by:
  • Crop failure
  • Wedding expenses, dowry
  • Death of earning member
  • Vulnerable position
  • Caste system – forced to work
  • Expenditure on rites and rituals
  • Poverty
  • Extremely attached vs Partially attached bonded labour
  • In case of Extremely attached, there is total bondage
  • Rural distress
Bonded Labourers՚ Education in India
Bonded Labourers՚ Education in India
Type of Work Done by Bonded Labour

Contract Based Labour

  • Low wage
  • Limited scope
  • Forced labour
  • Seasonal employment
  • The system of contract labour in our country was abolished in September 1970 by an Act called ‘Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act’ .

Urban Labour

  • Different from rural labour
  • No setbacks like lack of mobility, education, social stigmas, debt, etc.
  • There is awareness, knowledge of rights
  • Health, family issues, etc. taken care of

Migrant Labour

  • In hope for better they engage in low paying jobs
  • Consequences:
  • Slums
  • Skewed sex ratio
  • Stress, hostile environment
  • Sanitisation, housing, no social security
  • Easy to exploit
  • Earned money can be stolen
  • Discrimination at public places or public transport
  • Stereotyped
  • Family left behind in villages also suffers
  • Education of children suffers
  • Children forced to join workforce
  • Loneliness
  • Feminisation of Agrarian work but at low wages due to gender

Remedies and Suggestions

  • Create an environment of decent employment and income for the vulnerable and unreachable
  • Work in freedom and with dignity
  • Strict and immediate action against complaints
  • Coordination between Ministry of Labour and Employment and other social ministries
  • Participation of all the major stakeholders like employers՚ organizations, trade unions, civil society and media


Q. 1. Assertion: Bonded labour is often referred as modern day slavery.

Reason: It is called so because the system infringes human rights and destructs dignity of human behaviour.

A - Both A and R are true and R is the correct explanation of A.

B - Both A and R are true but R is NOT the correct explanation of A.

C - A is true but R is false.

D - A is false but R is true.

E - Both A and R are false.

Answer: A

Q. 2.

Statement 1: Forced labour can hereditarily descend from father to son or be passed on for generations together.

Statement 2: During the period of bondage, the debtor cannot seek employment with any other person.

a) Statement 1 is wrong and Statement 2 is correct

b) Statement 1 is correct and Statement 2 is wrong

c) Both are wrong

d) Both are right

Answer: D

Q. 3. Read the statements and carefully and answer:

a) In order to protect footloose workers or migrant workers the Govt. has initiated many programmes.

b) MGNREGS, Aadhar, NREP are some of them.

1. Both are false

2. a is true and b is false

3. b is true and a is false

4. Both are true

Answer: 4

#Rural Sociology

#Social Issues and Strategies for Rural Development

#Bonded and Migrant labourers