A BBC World Service Trust Programme on bonded labour
Bandhua village in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradeshhas an infamous claim to fame. The village name, which literally means bonded in Hindi, owes its origin to the fact that all its residents were bonded labourers about 20 years ago.

Despite being abolished in 1976, bonded labour still exists in India.

It is a form of labour that initially involves bondage of an employee to an employer through some form of debt or through a power dynamic fuelled by poverty and caste and/or class vulnerabilities.

The BBC World Service Trust announces a new radio programme designed to promote labour welfare and prevent bonded labour in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. These two states account for the highest incidence of unorganized and indebted labour in India.

The 30-minute radio programme, titled Majboor Kisko Bola! or “Who are you calling helpless!” seeks to achieve changes in the knowledge, attitudes and practices of the workforce in India. By informing vulnerable communities about labour rights, relevant government employment schemes and the risks of entering into bonded labour agreements, the programme aims to reduce bonded and exploitative labour.

Thirty-six weekly episodes are being aired on the public broadcaster All India Radio in the two states. The first episode was aired on Friday, the 28th of May 2010. “We’ve designed a show that promises to have great appeal among the Hindi mass audience. Community reporters from Bihar and UP have been trained to collect and record personal accounts from people from these states, as well as record locally relevant songs and sounds. The programme also features a drama segment along with interviews with experts, government officials and people affected by labour exploitation.” explains Project Manager Ashish Singh.

“Those vulnerable to labour exploitation often lack information to make informed decisions about employment. Radio is an excellent means to provide essential information about potential risky situations to avoid, human rights and services available for avoidance and redress of exploitation. Our aim is to empower people with information and ultimately to reduce the incidence of bonded labour,” says Yvonne MacPherson, Country Director, BBC World Service Trust in India.

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