Human bondage

Who among India’s young are likely to become modern slaves?

India has the largest youth population as well as the highest number of people trapped in forced labour and trafficking.

Last month, the United Nations Population Fund released its State of the World’s population report. At the same time, an international activist group, the Walk Free Foundation, released its Global Slavery Index 2014, which estimates the global extent of forced labour, human trafficking and other forms of slavery. In both reports, India gets the highest rankings.

With 113 million people aged 15-29 years, India has the largest youth population in the world.

India also has the largest number of people trapped in slavery – 14.2 million people.

How do these two groups intersect? Among India’s young people, who are the most vulnerable to slavery?

The report says that bonded labour and human trafficking become prevalent when people are vulnerable, and they are the most vulnerable when unemployed or engaged in activities that are not well regulated and do not provide basic social protection in the form of decent work, sufficient income and a good place to live in.

The Global Slavery Index points out that, in India, such labour could be in brick kilns, carpet-weaving, embroidery, agriculture, domestic servitude, mining and organised begging rings.

While there is no data for begging rings, the 68th round of the National Sample Survey (2011-2012) shows that the engagement in both agriculture and non-agricultural labour goes down as income levels rise. Salaried jobs which have a measure of social security are dominated by the richest 20%, while the poorest 20% form the largest chunk of agricultural labour.

So if you are poor, you are more likely to be trapped in slavery. Poverty rates in India are higher among Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and other backward classes. This makes young people from these social groups more vulnerable to forced labour and trafficking.

The other social determinant of vulnerability to slavery is gender. The report says that “with few opportunities for education, meaningful employment or access to reproductive rights,” young women are at the risk of being “recruited with promises of non-existent jobs and later sold for sexual exploitation, or forced into sham marriages.”

Data shows that the literacy rates among women are lower.

Women’s participation in the labour force is also significantly lower than men.

Strikingly, among working age women, the labour force participation rate – the ratio between the size of the labour force and the number of all the people belonging to the same age group – is the lowest among women aged 15-29 years. This rate is even lower for rural women as compared to urban women.

So if you are young, your chances of being trapped in trafficking and forced labour are higher if are poor, if you belong to Dalit, Adivasi and Muslim communities, if you are a woman and live in a village.

If these vulnerabilities are visualised as an intersecting venn diagram, the young Indian who emerges as the most susceptible to modern slavery is a young woman who lives in a village and belongs to Dalit, Adivasi, Muslim communities.

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Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.


Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.