Northeast Indian youth lured into life of modern day slavery in mainland India- What is the solution?

Northeast Indian youth lured into life of modern day slavery in mainland India- What is the solution?

By Mewanshwa Kharshiing

The disparity of unemployment in Northeast India has pushed many to look for better prospects in mainland India. Unemployment is not only the factor that has given rise to mass exodus of our youth to mostly cosmopolitan cities in search for better prospects as militancy and underdevelopment as well as lack of opportunity is on a wide rampage in the region.

Metropolitan cities thrive with not just government posts but also in the private and corporate sector where there is dearth of employment for many who are in distress. There is however a dangerous threat to this lucrative and appealing opportunity as many aspirants are lured into a life of modern day slavery. There are many instances of Northeastern People who fall prey to advertisements who assure them of lucrative jobs but to their surprise fall deep into the quick sand of forced labour and debt.

On taking to Robin Hibu, Delhi Joint Commissioner of Police and also founder of Helping Hands which is a charitable non-profit non-government organization in India committed to look out for the welfare of NorthEastern people residing outside their region; he said that lack of awareness and also absence of proper monitoring system can lead to many instances where our people from the region fall prey and are duped to forced labour.

We see many skill development training institutes that offer lucrative opportunities for training, and when students enrol and also relocated find out that the institute does not have adequate infrastructure. One such instance which was recently reported was that of a 21 year old female from Meghalaya, who has been forced to work in a Telangana based company and the victim contacted Robin Hibu personally and he said that she has no financial resources to go back home.

It is found that this Meghalaya female was employed as a beautician, but the company forced her to perform spa body massages of which she refused and the owner threatened her. She was trained and employed under state skill development training of Meghalaya. Milmoris Lyngkhoi, hailing from Nongtraw in West Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya has been kept for forced labour at Skill Private Limited C/o Nexus Engineering College Yacharam (mandal & Village) Ibranhimputnam Rangareddy (district) Telangana.

Helping hands founder, Hibu also said that there is no such official data to get a wider overview of the situation but said that 12 to 15 suicides happen every year which is directly linked to pressure from their work environments.

There was also a recent report of 22-year-old nurse from Manipur, who was working with a private hospital, allegedly killed herself by hanging from a ceiling fan in east Delhi’s Pandav Nagar on July 22. Even though there was no suicide note nor a conclusive reason was yet ascertained; it however could be also a culmination of many detrimental factors which edges people to the brink of hopelessness.

There are many companies that run unregulated in the wide geography of our country and exploit our unknowing northeastern youth with low disproportionate wages followed by verbal, psychological and physical abuse.

Helping hands also reports of youth resorting to drug abuse, the sex trade and other jobs which are detrimental to their overall wellbeing.

In a situation like this it begs us to question whether our respective states in the region are doing enough to curb this menace which is destroying countless lives. Should there be proper mechanisms in place and also labour departments should ensure that our people are properly allocated with proper employment.  The state government should follow up and monitor such cases in order to rescue unsuspecting victims. Are our state governments not having robust infrastructure to accommodate our young who are fighting so desperately for survival?

The ratio of people coming from outside the region for work pales in comparison to the number of our young venturing into the unknown with the hopes of making it big with a lucrative career. There are some no doubt who come out from prestigious institutions and land comfortable placements, but what about the rest of the lot who do not get a good package and struggling to make ends meet from month to month.

It is not only the marginalised that bid adieu to their home but also the creamy layer who is extremely competent and qualified who cannot cope with the work environment as well as the job profile.

It is a hope that our region would come at par with the rest of the country in many fronts and also retain the many potentialities who can serve as valuable human resource in our state.

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DISCLAIMER: The opinion expressed in the article are the writer’s own and TNT-The Northeast Today may not subscribe to the same view



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