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Slavery in India

Slavery in India

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The history of slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

is complicated by the presence of factors which relate to the definition, ideological and religious perceptions, difficulties in obtaining and interpreting written sources, and perceptions of political impact of interpretations of written sources. If current scholarly interpretations of various literary sources are accepted, then slavery as forced appropriation of labour, skill or sexual gratification appears to have existed in various forms from the pre-500 BCE period, though never as a legitimate and generally acceptable widespread practice. Historical consensus points to an intensification of slavery under India's Islamic period. For instance, K. S. Lal discussed in his work "Muslim Slave System in Medieval India" the import of African slaves to India by Muslims through the Middle East, a trade never undertaken by India's indigenous religions due to limited contact with Africa.

Often, claims about slavery in India, and the sources they are based on, need to be analyzed with special attention to context. Some modern scholars appear to treat most claims of slavery by Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 or Arabic chroniclers as propaganda or exaggeration for military and political glorification, whereas similar arguments are not applied to the textual claims of the epics, the Smriti
Smriti
Smriti literally "that which is remembered," refers to a specific body of Hindu religious scripture, and is a codified component of Hindu customary law. Smṛti also denotes non-Śruti texts and is generally seen as secondary in authority to Śruti. The literature which comprises the Smrti was...

, or other pre-Islamic Indian texts (Levi admits the possibility of exaggeration on the part of Muslim chroniclers but accepts Basham's claims based on Mahabharata without such doubts.) Susan Bayly of Cambridge University noted in her work "Caste, Society and Politics" that India was never a monolithic caste society with noted shifting and fluidity of the caste structures in some parts of India, and its non-existence in others. Irfan Habib
Irfan Habib
Irfan Habib is an Indian Marxist historian, a former Chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research and a Padma Bhushan awardee. He is a Professor Emeritus at Aligarh Muslim University. He has served in the Indian History Congress for many years. Irfan Habib and R.S...

 notes in his study of the agrarian system
Agrarian system
An agrarian system is a concept used to describe the dynamic set of economic and technological factors that affect agricultural practices. It is premised on the idea that different systems have developed depending on the natural and social conditions specific to a particular region...

 of Mughal India, that in many parts of the country, caste
Caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

 barriers were fluid, and the working classes formed a type of vast labour pool, from which specializations were formed as and when needed without consideration of caste.

Prior to 500 BCE


The Vedic
Vedic
Vedic may refer to:* the Vedas, the oldest preserved Indic texts** Vedic Sanskrit, the language of these texts** Vedic period, during which these texts were produced** Vedic pantheon of gods mentioned in Vedas/vedic period...

 association of "Dasas" as slaves has been challenged by some scholars, and is currently held to be debatable. Dasa means servant in a generic sense and just from the term it cannot be said that it was slavery.

Early period - 500 BCE to 500 CE


In the early period (500BCE-500 CE), where we first have a significant amount of written records, mainly in the form of literature and legal or policy texts, we find features of slavery as practised to have significant differences from contemporary slave-economies such as those of Greece
Slavery in Ancient Greece
Slavery was common practice and an integral component of ancient Greece throughout its rich history, as it was in other societies of the time including ancient Israel and early Christian societies. It is estimated that in Athens, the majority of citizens owned at least one slave...

 or Rome
Slavery in ancient Rome
The institution of slavery in ancient Rome played an important role in society and the Roman economy. Besides manual labor on farms and in mines, slaves performed many domestic services and a variety of other tasks, such as accounting...

—such as the absence of records of regular slave markets, or the presence of legal strictures restricting abuse and exploitation of slaves.

The primary relevant textual source attributed to this period is the Arthasastra whose author is given to be Kautilya (or Viṣṇugupta). If the main body of the text was indeed finalized within the early period of the Maurya Empire
Maurya Empire
The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age historical power in ancient India, ruled by the Mauryan dynasty from 321 to 185 BC...

 (4th century BCE), Arthasastra provides some important clues on the extent and nature of slavery during this period. Apart from scattered references, the main relevant portion is chapter 13, book III, which discusses slavery under the significant title "rules regarding slaves and labourers". The sale or mortgage of the life of an Arya is only conditionally permitted under legal court orders or to recover legal costs or combat financial hardships of the family or clan, by kinsmen only of the sold. The definition of "Arya" in this context is clearly stated to include all castes, (including Shudra
Shudra
Shudra is the fourth Varna, as prescribed in the Purusha Sukta of the Rig veda, which constitutes society into four varnas or Chaturvarna. The other three varnas are Brahmans - priests, Kshatriya - those with governing functions, Vaishya - agriculturalists, cattle rearers and traders...

s). However such sale by kinsmen are still to be penalized by fines. If the sellers are not kinsmen, then such sellers are liable to face not only fines but also capital punishment
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

. Arthasastra categorically states that Arya cannot be enslaved, although it allows enslavement of offspring by the Mleccha
Mleccha
Mleccha , also spelt as Mlechchha, people of foreign extraction in ancient India. Mleccha was used by the Aryans much as the ancient Greeks used barbaros, originally to indicate the uncouth and incomprehensible speech of foreigners and then extended to their unfamiliar behaviour...

, a term which referred to people living outside civilization or outside the sub-continent.

The slave appears to have retained degrees of control over money, property, right to compensation or wage for labour, and had the right of redemption, and deceiving or depriving a slave of these rights is also a punishable offence. Slavery also appears to have been of limited duration or of temporary status, as only specific conditions are given for slavery for life. Employing a slave to carry the dead, or to sweep human waste, remnant of meal, stripping or keeping in nudity, hurting or abusing, violating the chastity (of a female slave), causes the forfeiture of the value paid for the slave (although it is not clear whether this earns the slave his or her freedom). In the same paragraph, however, it is stated that the violations of the chastity of nurses, female cooks, or female servants of the class of joint cultivators or of any other category shall at once earn them their liberty. A master’s connections with a nurse or pledged female slave against her will is a punishable offence, (for a stranger the degree of offence is higher), and rape is specifically mentioned as particularly offensive with high penalties as well as forfeiture of sale price. In fact if a child is born to the female slave as a result of sexual union with the master, then the mother and child have to be freed immediately.

For an Arya, slavery appears to have been limited to the person who has sold himself, and not automatically to his family or offspring, as the status of the offspring as Arya is categorically emphasized. A slave is also guaranteed to not only whatever he has earned without prejudice to his master’s work, but also any inheritance
Inheritance
Inheritance is the practice of passing on property, titles, debts, rights and obligations upon the death of an individual. It has long played an important role in human societies...

 he has received from his father.

As for prisoners of war, enslavement does not appear to have been automatic, as it is stated that an Arya who is captured in war can only be ransomed for an amount proportionate to the damage or dangerous work done by the captive at the time of his capture (or half the amount).

Early medieval period - 500 CE to 1200 CE


Medhatithi observes that 'the captive of war
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

' mentioned by the Manu Smriti
Manu Smriti
' , also known as Mānava-Dharmaśāstra , is the most important and earliest metrical work of the Dharmaśāstra textual tradition of Hinduism...

 does not refer to the Ksatriya made captive in war but to the slave who after the defeat of his owner is brought over and enslaved by the captor. Sometimes feudal invasions resulted in the abduction or enslavement of the people in the invaded territories.

General economic condition of the people deteriorated and was one of the factors contributing towards slavery. Medhatithi comments on the practice of the debtor
Debtor
A debtor is an entity that owes a debt to someone else. The entity may be an individual, a firm, a government, a company or other legal person. The counterparty is called a creditor...

 being made to repay the debt by selling himself, and observes that it is an instance of local and king-made laws which are contrary to the Smrtis and therefore are not to be obeyed. During famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

s, which are frequent during this period, offering oneself up for slavery was an acceptable means of survival. Natural calamities, feudal plundering and frequent Turko-Afghan and Arab raids also impoverished the people. The Lekhapaddhati recognised these factors in a document which describes how as a result of a Muslim invasion and plunder, a famine visited a village leading to its abandonment.

Late Medieval period : 1200 CE to 1800 CE


Slavery begins to appear in explicit and extensive reference in surviving historical records following the raids of Mahmud of Ghazni
Mahmud of Ghazni
Mahmud of Ghazni , actually ', was the most prominent ruler of the Ghaznavid dynasty who ruled from 997 until his death in 1030 in the eastern Iranian lands. Mahmud turned the former provincial city of Ghazni into the wealthy capital of an extensive empire which covered most of today's Iran,...

 in the 11th century. Many chroniclers claim that his campaign of 1024 in which he sacked Ajmer
Ajmer
Ajmer , formerly written as Ajmere, is a city in Ajmer District in Rajasthan state in India. Ajmer has a population of around 800,000 , and is located west of the Rajasthan state capital Jaipur, 200 km from Jodhpur, 274 km from Udaipur, 439 km from Jaisalmer, and 391 km from...

, Nehrwala, Kathiawar
Kathiawar
Kathiawar or Kathiawad is a peninsula in western India, which is part of the Saurashtra region on the Arabian Sea coast of Gujarat state. It is bounded on the north by the great wetland of the Rann of Kutch, on the northwest by the Gulf of Kutch, on the west and south by the Arabian Sea, and on...

, and Somnath
Somnath
The Somnath Temple located in the Prabhas Kshetra near Veraval in Saurashtra, on the western coast of Gujarat, India, is one of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of the God Shiva. Somnath means "The Protector of Moon God". The Somnath Temple is known as "the Shrine Eternal", having been destroyed...

 was particularly successful in garnering more than 100,000 Hindu slaves for the Muslim general.

The gradual arrival and entrenchment of various Turko-Afghan and Arabic leaders professing Islam took place over nearly 800 years, from the 7th century to the 15th century. During this period, existing sects of Islam (Shias, Sunnis, Ismailis) fought with each other as well as with pre-existing Indian regimes for political and military control of North India
North India
North India, known natively as Uttar Bhārat or Shumālī Hindustān , is a loosely defined region in the northern part of India. The exact meaning of the term varies by usage...

. This resulted not only in non-Muslims but also the newly converted Indians, (if considered a heretic Muslim faction) being targets for slaughter and enslavement. The penetration of Islam into the south and far east of the subcontinent appears to be rather slow compared to the rapid collapse of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

, Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

, North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

 and Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 before advancing Muslim forces (roughly half a century compared to 800 years from the first Arab raids in Sindh
Sindh
Sindh historically referred to as Ba'ab-ul-Islam , is one of the four provinces of Pakistan and historically is home to the Sindhi people. It is also locally known as the "Mehran". Though Muslims form the largest religious group in Sindh, a good number of Christians, Zoroastrians and Hindus can...

, 711 to the Battle of Talikota
Battle of Talikota
The Battle of Talikota , a watershed battle fought between the Vijayanagara Empire and the Deccan sultanates, resulted in a rout of Vijayanagara, and ended the last great Hindu kingdom in South India...

, 1565). This indicates stiff resistance to the progress of Islam with the majority of the population remaining unconverted, and beyond enslavement. The central regions were not conquered until late Sultanate period
Delhi Sultanate
The Delhi Sultanate is a term used to cover five short-lived, Delhi based kingdoms or sultanates, of Turkic origin in medieval India. The sultanates ruled from Delhi between 1206 and 1526, when the last was replaced by the Mughal dynasty...

, and the final penetration into the Deccan Plateau
Deccan Plateau
The Deccan Plateau is a large plateau in India, making up the majority of the southern part of the country. It rises a hundred meters high in the north, rising further to more than a kilometers high in the south, forming a raised triangle nested within the familiar downward-pointing triangle of...

 had to wait till the 16th century. Muslim rulers had to compromise with local non-Muslim chiefs, and in each period of Turko-Afghan and Mughal rule, we find significant collaboration between non-Muslim and Muslim elite, especially in regions far away from the centres of Muslim military power.

The minority status of Muslim rulers perhaps led to periodic attempts at coercive measures as a punitive and preemptive terror tactic to keep the majority subject communities under control, with the Delhi Sultanate
Delhi Sultanate
The Delhi Sultanate is a term used to cover five short-lived, Delhi based kingdoms or sultanates, of Turkic origin in medieval India. The sultanates ruled from Delhi between 1206 and 1526, when the last was replaced by the Mughal dynasty...

 and its replacement under Babur
Babur
Babur was a Muslim conqueror from Central Asia who, following a series of setbacks, finally succeeded in laying the basis for the Mughal dynasty of South Asia. He was a direct descendant of Timur through his father, and a descendant also of Genghis Khan through his mother...

 trying to effectively turn areas under their close proximity and direct military control in India into Dar-ul-Islam (where Islamic law
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

 and custom was common). Some texts also contain passages that support claims for automatic annulment
Annulment
Annulment is a legal procedure for declaring a marriage null and void. Unlike divorce, it is usually retroactive, meaning that an annulled marriage is considered to be invalid from the beginning almost as if it had never taken place...

 of marriages of captive women, or their immediate redistribution as "righthand possessions" among the winning army. In this sense, Islam could be cited by the ruling elite and their retainers itself as justification and recommendations for enslavement of non-Muslims under their military subjugation. Slave markets existed in most major towns in India, especially those where Muslims formed a large minority or majority such as Delhi
Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

.

One writer notes that "Mohammad Ghori needed a large number of slaves for his campaigns in India and for administration in and outside India. During his time, Lahore
Lahore
Lahore is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the second largest city in the country. With a rich and fabulous history dating back to over a thousand years ago, Lahore is no doubt Pakistan's cultural capital. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Lahore remains a...

 and Delhi rose to be prime centres of slave trade and the Sultan used to purchase slaves in bulk."

Qutb Minar remains one important example of the use of slave labor to erect monuments under Muslim rule. It is located in a small village called Mehrauli
Mehrauli
Mehrauli is a neighbourhood in the South West district of Delhi in India. It represents a constituency in the legislative assembly of Delhi. The area is located close to Gurgaon.-History:...

 in South Delhi. It was built by Qutb-ud-din Aybak
Qutb-ud-din Aybak
Qutb-ud-din Aibak was a Turkic king of Northwest India who ruled from his capital in Delhi where he built the Qutub Minar and the Quwwat Al Islam mosque. He was of Turkic descent from central Asia, the first Sultan of Delhi and founder of the Slave dynasty of India. He ruled for only four years,...

 of the Slave Dynasty
Slave dynasty
The Slave Dynasty or Mamluk Dynasty or Ghulam Dynasty , was directed into India by Qutb-ud-din Aybak, a Turkic general of Central Asian birth. It was the first of five unrelated dynasties to rule India's Delhi Sultanate from 1206 to 1290...

, who took possession of Delhi in 1206. It is one of the first monuments built by a Muslim ruler in India.

Slavery under Arabic and Turko-Afghan invaders


Probably the greatest factors contributing to the increased supply of Indian slaves for export to markets in Central Asia in this period were the military conquests and tax revenue policies of the Muslim rulers in the subcontinent. The early Arab invaders of Sindh
Sindh
Sindh historically referred to as Ba'ab-ul-Islam , is one of the four provinces of Pakistan and historically is home to the Sindhi people. It is also locally known as the "Mehran". Though Muslims form the largest religious group in Sindh, a good number of Christians, Zoroastrians and Hindus can...

 in the 700's, the armies of the Umayyad
Umayyad
The Umayyad Caliphate was the second of the four major Arab caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. It was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty, whose name derives from Umayya ibn Abd Shams, the great-grandfather of the first Umayyad caliph. Although the Umayyad family originally came from the...

 commander Muhammad bin Qasim
Muhammad bin Qasim
Muhammad bin Qasim Al-Thaqafi was a Umayyad general who, at the age of 17, began the conquest of the Sindh and Punjab regions along the Indus River for the Umayyad Caliphate. He was born in the city of Taif...

, are reported to have enslaved tens of thousands of Indian prisoners, including both soldiers and civilians. According to the Persian historian Firishta
Firishta
Firishta or Ferishta, full name Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah , was born in 1560 and died in 1620 and he was a Persian historian. The name Firishta means angel or one who is sent in Persian.-Life:...

, after the Ghaznavid
Ghaznavid Empire
The Ghaznavids were a Persianate Muslim dynasty of Turkic slave origin which existed from 975 to 1187 and ruled much of Persia, Transoxania, and the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent. The Ghaznavid state was centered in Ghazni, a city in modern-day Afghanistan...

 capture of Thanesar
Thanesar
Thanesar is an old and historic town on the banks of the Sarsawati Ghaggar river in the state of Haryana in northern India. It is located in Kurukshetra District, approximately 160 km northwest of Delhi...

 (c. 1014), "the army of Islam brought to Ghazna about 200,000 captives, and much wealth, so that the capital appeared like an Indian city, no soldier of the camp being without wealth, or without many slaves", and that, subsequently Sultan Ibrahim’s raid into the Multan
Multan
Multan , is a city in the Punjab Province of Pakistan and capital of Multan District. It is located in the southern part of the province on the east bank of the Chenab River, more or less in the geographic centre of the country and about from Islamabad, from Lahore and from Karachi...

 area of northwestern India yielded 100,000 captives.

Levi notes that these figures cannot be entirely dismissed as exaggerations since they appear to be supported by the reports of contemporary observers. In the early 11th century Tarikh al-Yamini, the Arab historian Al-Utbi recorded that in 1001 the armies of Mahmud of Ghazni
Mahmud of Ghazni
Mahmud of Ghazni , actually ', was the most prominent ruler of the Ghaznavid dynasty who ruled from 997 until his death in 1030 in the eastern Iranian lands. Mahmud turned the former provincial city of Ghazni into the wealthy capital of an extensive empire which covered most of today's Iran,...

 conquered Peshawar
Peshawar
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the administrative center and central economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan....

 and Waihand, "in the midst of the land of Hindustan", and captured some 100,000 youths. Later, following his twelfth expedition into India in 1018-19, Mahmud is reported to have returned to with such a large number of slaves that their value was reduced to only two to ten dirham
Dirham
Dirham or dirhem is a unit of currency in several Arab or Berber nations, and formerly the related unit of mass in the Ottoman Empire and Persian states...

s each. This unusually low price made, according to Al-Utbi, "merchants came from distant cities to purchase them, so that the countries of (Central Asia), Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 and Khurasan were swelled with them, and the fair and the dark, the rich and the poor, mingled in one common slavery". Elliot and Dowson refers to "five hundred thousand slaves, beautiful men and women". Later, during the Delhi Sultanate
Delhi Sultanate
The Delhi Sultanate is a term used to cover five short-lived, Delhi based kingdoms or sultanates, of Turkic origin in medieval India. The sultanates ruled from Delhi between 1206 and 1526, when the last was replaced by the Mughal dynasty...

 period (1206–1555), references to the abundant availability of low-priced Indian slaves abound. Levi attributes this primarily to the vast human resources of India, compared to its neighbours to the north and west (Mughal
Mughal era
The Mughal era is a historic period of the Mughal Empire in South Asia . It ran from the early 15th century to a point in the early 18th century when the Mughal Emperors' power had dwindled...

 Indian population being approximately 12 to 20 times that of Turan
Turan
Tūrān is the Persian name for Central Asia, literally meaning "the land of the Tur". As described below, the original Turanians are an Iranian tribe of the Avestan age. As a people the "Turanian" are one of the two Iranian peoples both descending from the Persian Fereydun but with different...

 and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 at the end of 16th century). Many of these Indian slaves were reserved for use in the subcontinent, but their availability in substantial numbers greatly contributed to their affordability, which likewise increased their demand in international markets.

Slavery under the Turko-Afghan Delhi Sultanate


The revenue system of the Delhi Sultanate produced a considerable proportion of the
Indian slave population as these rulers, and their subordinate shiqadars, ordered their armies
to abduct large numbers of Hindus as a means of extracting revenue. While those communities that were loyal to the Sultan and regularly paid their taxes were often excused from this practice, taxes were commonly extracted from other, less loyal groups in the form of slaves. Thus, according to Barani, the Shamsi
Shamsi
Shamsi is a village in the Chuy Province of Kyrgyzstan....

 "slave-king" Balban (r. 1266-87) ordered his shiqadars in Awadh
Awadh
Awadh , also known in various British historical texts as Oudh or Oude derived from Ayodhya, is a region in the centre of the modern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which was before independence known as the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh...

 to enslave those peoples resistant to his authority, implying those who refused to supply him with tax revenue. Sultan Alauddin Khilji
Alauddin Khilji
Ali Gurshap Khan better known by his titular name as Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji was the second ruler of the Turko-Afghan Khilji dynasty in India.He was a well and capable ruler. He belonged to the Afghanized Turkic tribe of the Khiljis...

 (r. 1296-1316) is similarly reported to have legalized the enslavement of those who defaulted on their revenue payments. This policy continued during the Mughal era. An even greater number of people were enslaved as a part of the efforts of the Delhi Sultans
Delhi Sultanate
The Delhi Sultanate is a term used to cover five short-lived, Delhi based kingdoms or sultanates, of Turkic origin in medieval India. The sultanates ruled from Delhi between 1206 and 1526, when the last was replaced by the Mughal dynasty...

 to finance their expansion into new territories. For example, while he himself was still a military slave of the Ghurid
Ghurids
The Ghurids or Ghorids were a medieval Muslim dynasty of Iranian origin that ruled during the 12th and 13th centuries in Khorasan. At its zenith, their empire, centred at Ghōr , stretched over an area that included the whole of modern Afghanistan, the eastern parts of Iran and the northern section...

 Sultan Muizz u-Din, Qutb-ud-din Aybak
Qutb-ud-din Aybak
Qutb-ud-din Aibak was a Turkic king of Northwest India who ruled from his capital in Delhi where he built the Qutub Minar and the Quwwat Al Islam mosque. He was of Turkic descent from central Asia, the first Sultan of Delhi and founder of the Slave dynasty of India. He ruled for only four years,...

 (r. 1206-10 as the first of the Shamsi slave-kings) invaded Gujarat in 1197 and placed some 20,000 people in bondage. Roughly six years later, he enslaved an additional 50,000 people during his conquest of Kalinjar
Kalinjar
Kalinjar is a fortress-city in the Bundelkhand region of central India. Kalinjar is located in Banda District of Uttar Pradesh state, near the temple-city and World Heritage Site of Khajuraho. The fortress is strategically located on an isolated rocky hill at the end the Vindhya Range, at an...

. Later in the 13th century, Balban's campaign in Ranthambore, reportedly defeated the Hindu army and yielded "captives beyond computation". Levi finds reasonable K. S. Lal's
K. S. Lal
Kishori Saran Lal was an Indian historian. He wrote many historical books, mainly on medieval India. Many of his books, such as History of the Khaljis and Twilight of the Sultanate, are regarded as standard works....

 assertion that the forcible enslavement of Indians due to military expansion "gained momentum" under the Khilji
Khilji dynasty
The Khilji Sultanate was a dynasty of Turko-Afghan Khalaj origin who ruled large parts of South Asia from 1290 - 1320. They were the second dynasty to rule the Delhi Sultanate of India...

 and Tughluq dynasties, as being supported by available figures. Zia uddin Barani suggested that Sultan Alauddin Khilji owned 50,000 slave-boys, in addition to 70,000 construction slaves. Sultan Firuz Shah Tughluq
Firuz Shah Tughluq
-External links:*...

 is said to have owned 180,000 slaves, roughly 12,000 of whom were skilled artisans. A significant proportion of slaves owned by the Sultans were likely to have been military slaves and not labourers or domestics. However earlier traditions of maintaining a mixed army comprising both Hindu soldiers and Turkic slave-soldiers (ghilman
Ghilman
Ghilman Ghilman Ghilman (singular ghulam describes either young servants in paradise or slave-soldiers in the Ottoman, Mughal and Persian Empires.-Islamic Theology:...

, mamluk
Mamluk
A Mamluk was a soldier of slave origin, who were predominantly Cumans/Kipchaks The "mamluk phenomenon", as David Ayalon dubbed the creation of the specific warrior...

s) from Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

, were disrupted by the rise of the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

 reducing the inflow of mamluks. This intensified demands by the Delhi Sultans on local Indian populations to satisfy their need for both military and domestic slaves. The Khaljis even sold thousands of captured Mongol soldiers within India. China, Turkistan, Persia, and Khurusan were sources of male and female slaves sold to Tughluq India. The Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

 Emperor in China sent 100 slaves of both sexes to the Tughluq Sultan, and he replied by also sending the same amount of slaves of both sexes.

Export of Indian slaves to international markets


Alongside Buddhist Oirats
Oirats
Oirats are the westernmost group of the Mongols who unified several tribes origin whose ancestral home is in the Altai region of western Mongolia. Although the Oirats originated in the eastern parts of Central Asia, the most prominent group today is located in the Republic of Kalmykia, a federal...

, Christian Russians, non-Sunni Afghans, and the predominantly Shia Iranians, Hindu slaves were an important component of the highly active slave markets of medieval and early modern Central Asia. The all pervasive nature of slavery in this period in Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 is shown by the 17th century records of one Juybari Sheikh, a Naqshbandi
Naqshbandi
Naqshbandi is one of the major Sufi spiritual orders of Sufi Islam. It is considered to be a "Potent" order.The Naqshbandi order is over 1,300 years old, and is active today...

 Sufi leader, (the Sufis appear to have a representation in standard modern historical texts in India, as a very liberal, humane, tolerant and integrative interpretation of Islam) owning over 500 slaves, forty of whom were specialists in pottery production while the others were engaged in agricultural work.
High demand for skilled slaves, and India's larger and more advanced textile industry and agricultural production, architecture, demonstrated to its neighbours that skilled labour was abundant in the subcontinent leading to enslavement and export of large number of skilled labour, following successful invasions.
After sacking Delhi
Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

, Timur
Timur
Timur , historically known as Tamerlane in English , was a 14th-century conqueror of West, South and Central Asia, and the founder of the Timurid dynasty in Central Asia, and great-great-grandfather of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty, which survived as the Mughal Empire in India until...

 enslaved several thousand skilled artisans, presenting many of these slaves to his subordinate elite, although reserving the masons for use in the construction of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque
Bibi-Khanym Mosque
Bibi-Khanym Mosque is a famous historical Friday mosque in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, whose name comes from the wife of 14th-century ruler, Amir Timur.-Features:...

 in Samarkand
Samarkand
Although a Persian-speaking region, it was not united politically with Iran most of the times between the disintegration of the Seleucid Empire and the Arab conquest . In the 6th century it was within the domain of the Turkic kingdom of the Göktürks.At the start of the 8th century Samarkand came...

. Young female slaves fetched higher market price than skilled construction slaves, sometimes by 150%. Because of their identification in Muslim societies as kafir
Kafir
Kafir is an Arabic term used in a Islamic doctrinal sense, usually translated as "unbeliever" or "disbeliever"...

s, "non-believers", Hindus were especially in demand in the early modern Central Asian slave markets, with Indian Hindu slaves specially mentioned in waqafnamas, and archives and even being owned by Turkic pastoral groups.

Slavery under the first five Mughal Badshahs


The Mughals
Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

 started their slave trade by preying on fellow Muslims in their bid for expansion into India through the Afghan provinces in North-West India. An Afghan chieftain belonging to the Kakar
Kakar
The Kakar are a Pashtun tribe, with members living in Afghanistan and Pakistan.-Kakar :Kakar Afghan was one of the grandsons of Qais Abdur Rashid. Kakar's father's name was Dani, son of Gharghasht, who was the son of Qais in the Afghan appendix of tribes. According to Afghan and Muslim historians,...

 clan pleaded to Sultan Taj Khan Karrani: “At our backs are Mughal armies that capture and enslave members of the Afghan race. You also are an Afghan. Therefore it is necessary that we come under your protection.”

Most extensive records of the Mughal Badsha’s interest in the slave trade is available for Shah Jahan
Shah Jahan
Shah Jahan Shah Jahan (also spelled Shah Jehan, Shahjehan, , Persian: شاه جهان) (January 5, 1592 – January 22, 1666) Shah Jahan (also spelled Shah Jehan, Shahjehan, , Persian: شاه جهان) (January 5, 1592 – January 22, 1666) (Full title: His Imperial Majesty Al-Sultan al-'Azam wal Khaqan...

 (1630 C.E. - 1658 C.E.). The fact of Shah Jahan being the son of a Hindu princess, Jagat Gosine/Jagat Gosini (a wife of Jehangir), and the grandson of another Hindu Rajput
Rajput
A Rajput is a member of one of the patrilineal clans of western, central, northern India and in some parts of Pakistan. Rajputs are descendants of one of the major ruling warrior classes in the Indian subcontinent, particularly North India...

 princess, Jodhabai
Jodhabai
Mariam uz-Zamani Begum Sahiba , née Rajkumari Hira Kunwari, alias Harkha Bai was a Rajput princess who became the Mughal Empress, after her marriage to Mughal Emperor Akbar...

 (an influential wife of Akbar and mother of Jehangir), illustrates that the Mughals pursued slave trade and enslavement of Hindus as a matter of state policy without any consideration to kinship and other consideration. Shah Jahan's style of organizing enslavement campaigns is illustrative of the Mughal strategy to rally religious and political forces behind what essentially was a move for acquisition of valuable human and biological resources. For example, in 1632 Shah Jahan ordered all recently constructed or partially-constructed Hindu temples obliterated. Seventy-six temples were destroyed in Benares and ten thousand inhabitants were executed by being "blown up with powder, drowned in water or burnt by fire". As a result of this campaign, four thousand were taken captive to Agra where they were tortured to try to convert them to Islam. Only a few apostatised; the remainder were trampled to death by elephants, except for the younger women who went to harem
Harem
Harem refers to the sphere of women in what is usually a polygynous household and their enclosed quarters which are forbidden to men...

s.

Abd Allah Khan Firuz Jang, an Uzbek noble at the Mughal court during the 1620s and
1630s, was appointed to the position of governor of the regions of Kalpi and Kher and, in
the process of subjugating the local rebels, ``beheaded the leaders and enslaved their
women, daughters and children, who were more than 2 lakhs [200,000] in number.

When Shah Shuja was appointed as governor of Kabul he carried on a ruthless war in the Hindu territory beyond Indus. Most of the women burnt themselves to death
Sati (practice)
For other uses, see Sati .Satī was a religious funeral practice among some Indian communities in which a recently widowed woman either voluntarily or by use of force and coercion would have immolated herself on her husband’s funeral pyre...

 to save their honour. Those captured were distributed among Muslim Mansabdar
Mansabdar
Mansabdar was the generic term for the military -type grading of all imperial officials of the Mughal Empire. The mansabdars governed the empire and commanded its armies in the emperor's name...

s. Under Shah Jahan
Shah Jahan
Shah Jahan Shah Jahan (also spelled Shah Jehan, Shahjehan, , Persian: شاه جهان) (January 5, 1592 – January 22, 1666) Shah Jahan (also spelled Shah Jehan, Shahjehan, , Persian: شاه جهان) (January 5, 1592 – January 22, 1666) (Full title: His Imperial Majesty Al-Sultan al-'Azam wal Khaqan...

, peasants were compelled to sell their women and children to meet their revenue requirements. The peasants were carried off to various markets and fairs to be sold with their poor unhappy wives carrying their small children crying and lamenting. According to Qaznivi, Shah Jahan had decreed they should be sold to Muslim lords. The Augustinian missionary Fray Sebastiao Manrique, who was in Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

 in 1629–30 and again in 1640, remarked on the ability of the shiqdār—a Mughal officer responsible for executive matters in the pargana
Pargana
A pargana is a former administrative unit of the Indian subcontinent, used primarily, but not exclusively, by the Muslim kingdoms.Parganas were introduced by the Delhi Sultanate, and the word is of Persian origin. As a revenue unit, a pargana consists of several mouzas, which are the smallest...

, the smallest territorial unit of imperial administration to collect the revenue demand, by force if necessary, and even to enslave peasants should they default in their payments.

A survey of a relatively small, restricted sample of
seventy-seven letters regarding the manumission or sale of slaves in the Majmua-i-wathaiq
reveals that slaves of Indian origin (Hindi al-asal) accounted for over 58 per cent of those
whose region of origin is mentioned. Khutut-i-mamhura bemahr-i qadat-i Bukhara, a smaller collection of judicial documents from early eighteenth-century Bukhara includes several letters of manumission with over half of these letters referring to slaves ``of Indian origin. Even in the model of
a legal letter of manumission written by the chief qazi for his assistant to follow, the
example used is of a slave ``of Indian origin.

It is to be noted that sections of Indian society, such as the Gakhars
Gakhars
The Gakhars are an ancient warrior clan who have predominantly resided in what is present day northern Punjab and South-Western Kashmir, Pakistan. In particular in the cities of Rawalpindi, Jhelum and regions of Gilgit, Baltistan, Chitral, Khanpur and Mirpur, Pakistan...

, actively participated and profited from the slave trade involving Indians. This is consistent with evidences of collaboration by sections of the Hindu elite and merchant communities with Turko-Afghan Mughal military adventurers and rulers.

Levi is of the opinion the supply of Indian slaves for export dwindled as the Mughal Empire weakened, decentralized and its military expansion came to an end. The degeneration of the Mughal empire coincided with the increasing general exclusion of slaves from the tax-revenue systemsof the successor states and the growing commercial and cultural separation of India and its neighbours to the north and west under the British Raj.

Slavery under early European colonial powers


According to one author, in spite of the best efforts of the slave-holding elite to conceal the continuation of the institution from the historical record, slavery was practiced throughout colonial India in various manifestations. In reality,
the movement of Indians and Afghans to the Bukharan slave markets did not cease and Indian slaves continued to be sold in the markets of Bukhara well into the nineteenth century.

Slavery existed in Portuguese India
Portuguese India
The Portuguese Viceroyalty of India , later the Portuguese State of India , was the aggregate of Portugal's colonial holdings in India.The government started in 1505, six years after the discovery of a sea route to India by Vasco da Gama, with the nomination of the first Viceroy Francisco de...

 after the 16th century. "Most of the Portuguese", says Albert. D. Mandelslo, a German itinerant writer, "have many slaves of both sexes, whom they employ not only on and about their persons, but also upon the business they are capable of, for what they get comes with the master.

The Dutch, too, largely dealt in slaves. They were mainly Abyssian, known in India as habschis or seedes. The curious mixed race in Kanara
Kanara
The Kanara or Canara region comprises three coastal districts of Karnataka, namely Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada and Kasaragod district of Kerala in southwestern India. Kanara forms the southern part of the Konkan coast...

 on the West coast has traces of these slaves.

The Dutch Indian Ocean slave trade was primarily mediated by the Dutch East India Company, drawing captive labor from three commercially closely linked regions: the western, or East Africa, Madagascar, and the Mascarene Islands (Mauritius and Reunion); the middle, or Indian subcontinent (Malabar, Coromandel, and the Bengal/Arakan coast); and the eastern, or Malaysia, Indonesia, New Guinea (Irian Jaya), and the southern Philippines.

The Dutch traded slaves from fragmented or weak small states and stateless societies in the East beyond the sphere of Islamic influence, to the company's Asian headquarters, the "Chinese colonial city" of Batavia (Jakarta), and its regional center in coastal Sri Lanka. Other destinations included the important markets of Malacca (Melaka) and Makassar (Ujungpandang), along with the plantation economies of eastern Indonesia (Maluku, Ambon, and Banda Islands), and the agricultural estates of the southwestern Cape Colony (South Africa).

On the Indian subcontinent Arakan/ Bengal, Malabar, and Coromandel, remained the most important source of forced labor until the 1660s. Between 1626 and 1662, the Dutch exported on an average 150-400 slaves annually from the Arakan-Bengal coast. During the first thirty years of Batavia's existence, Indian and Arakanese slaves provided the main labor force of the company's Asian headquarters. Of the 211 manumitted slaves in Batavia between 1646 and 1649, 126 (59.71%) came from South Asia, including 86 (40.76%) from Bengal. Slave raids into the Bengal estuaries were conducted by joint forces of Magh pirates, and Portuguese traders (chatins) operating from Chittagong outside the jurisdiction and patronage of the Estado da India, using armed vessels (galias). These raids occurred with the active connivance of the Taung-ngu (Toungoo) rulers of Arakan. The eastward expansion of the Mughal Empire, however, completed with the conquest of Chittagong in 1666, cut off the traditional supplies from Arakan and Bengal. Until the Dutch seizure of the Portuguese settlements on the Malabar coast (1658–63), large numbers of slaves were also captured and sent from India's west coast to Batavia, Ceylon, and elsewhere. After 1663, however, the stream of forced labor from Cochin dried up to a trickle of about 50-100 and 80-120 slaves per year to Batavia and Ceylon, respectively.

In contrast with other areas of the Indian subcontinent, Coromandel remained the center of a sporadic slave trade throughout the seventeenth century. In various short-lived expansions accompanying natural and human-induced calamities, the Dutch exported thousands of slaves from the east coast of India. A prolonged period of drought followed by famine conditions in 1618-20 saw the first large-scale export of slaves from the Coromandel coast in the seventeenth century. Between 1622 and 1623, 1,900 slaves were shipped from central Coromandel ports, like Pulicat and Devanampatnam. Company officials on the coast declared that 2,000 more could have been bought if only they had the funds.

The second expansion in the export of Coromandel slaves occurred during a famine following the revolt of the Nayaka Hindu rulers of South India (Tanjavur, Senji, and Madurai) against Bijapur overlordship (1645) and the subsequent devastation of the Tanjavur countryside by the Bijapur army. Reportedly, more than 150,000 people were taken by the invading Deccani Muslim armies to Bijapur and Golconda. In 1646, 2,118 slaves were exported to Batavia, the overwhelming majority from southern Coromandel. Some slaves were also acquired further south at Tondi, Adirampatnam, and Kayalpatnam.

A third phase in slaving took place between 1659 and 1661 from Tanjavur as a result of a series of successive Bijapuri raids. At Nagapatnam, Pulicat, and elsewhere, the company purchased 8,000-10,000 slaves, the bulk of whom were sent to Ceylon while a small portion were exported to Batavia and Malacca. A fourth phase(1673–77) started from a long drought in Madurai and southern Coromandel starting in 1673, and intensified by the prolonged Madurai-Maratha struggle over Tanjavur and punitive fiscal practices. Between 1673 and 1677, 1,839 slaves were exported from the Madurai coast alone. A fifth phase occurred in 1688, caused by poor harvests and the Mughal advance into the Karnatak. Thousands of people from Tanjavur, mostly girls and little boys, were sold into slavery and exported by Asian traders from Nagapattinam to Aceh, Johor, and other slave markets. In September 1687, 665 slaves were exported by the English from Fort St. George, Madras. Finally, in 1694-96, when warfare once more ravaged South India, a total of 3,859 slaves were imported from Coromandel by private individuals into Ceylon.
The volume of the total Dutch Indian Ocean slave trade has been estimated to be about 15-30% of the Atlantic slave trade, slightly smaller than the trans-Saharan slave trade, and one-and-a-half to three times the size of the Swahili and Red Sea coast and the Dutch West India Company slave trades.

Early Modern period: 1800 CE to 2000 CE


The arrival of the British East India Company
British East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

 and the imposition of crown rule following the Indian Rebellion in 1857 along with the influence of the British anti-slavery society of William Wilberforce
William Wilberforce
William Wilberforce was a British politician, a philanthropist and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. A native of Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, he began his political career in 1780, eventually becoming the independent Member of Parliament for Yorkshire...

 eventually brought slavery and the slave markets to an end in India. According to Sir Henry Bartle Frere
Henry Bartle Frere
Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere, 1st Baronet, GCB, GCSI, was a British colonial administrator.-Early life:Frere was born at Clydach House, Clydach, Monmouthshire, the son of Edward Frere, manager of Clydach Ironworks...

 (who sat on the Viceroy's Council), there were an estimated 8,000,000 or 9,000,000 slaves in India in 1841. In Malabar, about 15% of the population were slaves. Slavery was abolished in modern India by the Indian Slavery Act V. of 1843. Provisions of the Indian Penal Code
Indian Penal Code
Indian Penal Code is the main criminal code of India. It is a comprehensive code, intended to cover all substantive aspects of criminal law. It was drafted in 1860 and came into force in colonial India during the British Raj in 1862...

 of 1861 formally tried to abolish slavery in India by making the enslavement of human beings a criminal offense.
However, as late as August, 1873, there are newspaper reports indicating forms in which slavery appeared to survive. The case reported refers to Sylhet, (now part of Bangladesh) where polygamy was widely practised, and wives, sisters and daughters were sometimes surrendered to a rich man or a debtor to be a slave for life. The newspaper further notes that the purchase and sale of slaves in the traditional way had not yet altogether disappeared.

Possible British colonial reconstruction of dependency relations into slavery and debt bondage


Gyan Prakash, is of the opinion that the abolition of slavery in India in 1843 constructed the British government as a force of reason and progress, while it actually refashioned slavery and turned it into debt-bondage.
In form of a detailed case study, he has studied the changing fate of the kamias, a group of agricultural labourers, who were largely members of a larger outcaste Bhuniya community in the Gaya district of south Bihar. These kamias had long-term relations to landlords (maliks), who mostly belonged to upper castes. In fact, this kamia-malik tie was shaped like a patron-client relationship as is evident for example through the institution of kamiauti, a transaction of grain, money and a plot of land given to the kamia by the landlord if the former’s son married -"these relations were structured as dependent ties that represented the landlord as a munificent patron and the labourer as his dependent subject".

In their pledge to uphold Indian traditions, the British – according to Prakash – first had to discover and invent these traditions by alleging that slavery had a base in indigenous laws. Recognition of slavery started with a declaration in 1774 of the Provincial Council at Patna, stating that slavery should not be hereditary but life-long, and that a particular form of slavery was "almost as if no bondage existed." With this, slavery was put under the category of "unfreedom" with the only antonym as "bondage". Further recognition of slavery was the Orientalist interpretation of classical texts, such as H.T. Colebrooke's Digest of Hindu Law on Contracts and Successions (1801), which allowed the British to assume inherent classifications of polluted and non-polluted labour to certain groups, with corresponding categories for unfree and free. In 1808, a Magistrate from Bundelkhand sent a letter to the court in Calcutta in which he denounced the existence of slavery in India, leading to a series of questions being made to pundits and muftis attached to the court whose replies were interpreted as support for the indigenous existence of slavery.

Slavery was reconstituted – in the case of kamias – as "voluntarily entered" bondage. The meaning of kamiauti changed notion with changing agrarian relations as a result of the 1843 Abolition Act, and was now seen as a "loan" but no longer an advance given by the malik to the kamia. After the abolition of slavery in 1843, the kamias had to sign contracts for the raising of loans in which they pleaded to pay back a given sum or remain in bondage until they had done so. With these contracts essentially establishing a debtor-creditor relation, landlords could proceed to the court in case the labourer did not fulfill his plea and demand their right, leading to debt-bondage. The previous dependent-patron transaction of kamiauti was recasting as "voluntary" contracts of otherwise free persons. According to Prakash, "the beginning of kamiauti’s documentation in the early nineteenth century initiated its objectification in a body of records that (...) revealed the history of kamia-malik relations in terms of transactions of things."

In this case, he points to the Surveys undertaken by Francis Buchanan in south Bihar from 1809-12 in which Buchanan stated regional and also structural variations in the actual process of kamiauti. It furthermore suggested that the money given to kamias had varied effects. However, these variations of kamiauti were not included into The Report from the India Law Commissioners in 1841. Rather than acknowledging these variations, the Commissioners’ ignored the inconsistencies in the debt-bondage view and saw variation only in terms of the length of servitude. After slavery had been abolished in 1843, all kamia-malik disputes were brought to district courts as violations of creditor-debtor contracts, with the positions of kamias significantly worsened compared to pre-colonial times.

Only recognizing in the beginning of the 20th century that kamias were actually treated as debt-serfs and their condition similar to slavery, the government tried to reverse the process in the Bihar and Orissa Kamiauti Agreement Act issued in 1920, which stated that the labour of one year was sufficient to repay the advance plus interest on it, thus making bondage exceeding this duration illegal. The law did not achieve its purpose and reinforced the view of bondage being "so deeply rooted in Indian otherness that no law could change it." With the failing of these laws, it was concluded that kamias "lacked the desire for freedom."

The colonial bondage system absorbed larger parts of society as well as territory. Thus it was possible even for low-caste rich peasants to hire kamias indicating a separation of labour relations from traditional ritual hierarchy. Further more groups were subjugated into debt-bondage and the system expanded into other areas of south Bihar and Chota Nagpur. Additionally, the unleashing of the bondage system led to the fact that agricultural production increasingly relied on intensifying labour exploitation.

Child slavery and in India today


The existence of child slavery in South Asia and the world has been alleged by NGOs and the media. With The Bonded Labour (Prohibition) Act 1976 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and in force from March 23, 1976...

 (concerning slavery, servitude and a spotlight has been placed on these problems in India.

External links