Alpesh Patel’s Political Sketchbook: The Indian Slave

Alpesh Patel Wednesday 15th December 2021 07:10 EST


Several years ago I had a visit to both India and China on one trip.

The Chinese are in the news for their forced slave labour camps of Uighurs – Government-sponsored genocide.

There are more slaves in India today than there were under British rule. You probably don’t know it. With over 11 million Indian slaves, that is more than the entire population of Yorkshire. It is one in six of the British population.

“Rule Britannia, Britons shall never be slaves” goes the unofficial national anthem, yet that is not true in Modern Britain either. Slavery, Britain has in common with India.

On my trip to Delhi I visited the anti-slavery organisation, International Justice Mission. They told me of Jaswinder Singh. For five years he is working as a “Siri” bonded labourer. Bonded labour or slavery is simple. You promise an advance to own the labour of your slave indefinitely. The sums can be as little as gbp100. Imagine the profits you can make, on the bended back of your fellow Indian. The labourer is unaware he will never be freed.


To the traffickers, the slave owners, the jailers, the tyrants – we are coming for you. Watch your back. For your greed, your immorality you will find us restless in our desire to punish, for vengeance shall be ours. You will find no safe quarter. Nowhere. For the Indian and British slave, your time has come too – you shall be freed. We are restless in our quest for your independence, so the song shall be ‘Rule India, Indians shall never be slaves.’


Dear Former Prime Minister Theresa May,


So, I would like to thank and congratulate you for establishing the Modern Slavery Act and creating an Anti-Slavery Commissioner. These initiatives are the first steps that will help to reduce the issues associated with slavery in our country.


You know a globally coordinated approach is needed to eradicate trafficking and slavery worldwide. Since you were Home Secretary, that problem is being dealt by Priti Patel now of course.  These issues are not unique to the UK and in some countries they are at a much larger scale and deeper penetrated within society. The opportunities for us to learn and work closely with other countries are clear. And we know this Home Secretary recognises that is and is trying to find solutions.


I note that in your feature on Anti Slavery published in the Sunday Times, you mentioned that “Ministers need to address trafficking within Britain as well as across borders”. I fully endorse your views fully and suggest that we should be working across borders; particularly with the countries that are experiences similar issues. This is an opportunity for you as Home Secretary to a G7 nation to lead on created an even greater worldwide initiative: to lead all Home Secretaries of all G10 nations to eradicate organized slavery before the decade is out.


I say ‘before the decade is out’ because last month was the anniversary of the death of President Kennedy, and that is the phrase he use to set what appeared an unimaginable goal to his nation, when he charged them to put a man on the moon – and he said it 8 years before the decade was out.


Politicians with vision, setting ambitious goals can change the world.

Home Secretaries are rarely women, rarely have the opportunity to work internationally, yet in a global world this is vital. May I suggest that the current Home Secretary take the lead as Alok Sharma did on Cop26 and the environment?  

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