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India’s NGO racket of human trafficking

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Dramatic scandals routinely fill India’s media headlines about some poor victim from a remote area being exploited by upper strata Delhi elites. Yet there is no investigative journalism to uncover the inconvenient facts about certain NGOs that operate what amounts to a human trafficking industry. One reason for this conspiracy of silence is that the traffickers are linked with some politically connected NGOs that make noises in the metros ostensibly on behalf of the victims. In reality the noise made serves to cover up the sinister role of NGOs in this industry that brings Christianity to the remote villages in exchange for maids to Delhi.

The elaborate scheme works as follows. Christian missionaries in adivasi (indigenous, “tribal”) areas offer poor families an inducement that is hard to resist: If the family converts to Christianity, one of its young daughters will be sent as a domestic servant to Delhi or another metro.

The affiliated “agencies” in the metros collect placement fees up to Rs 50,000 per maid from the household that hires them. In between the point of “recruitment” and the point of placement there are intermediaries that “sell”, transfer and move the young, vulnerable person through the supply chain. Money is exchanged at each stage.

The agencies keep relocating the same girl from one employer to another every few months in order to collect their placement fee repeatedly. This disruption adds to the trauma of the young girl. The agency becomes, by default, her only hope of security, and in the process she becomes even more vulnerable to the agency’s exploitation. Delhi alone is estimated to have several thousands of such girls being brought every year.

The cultural gap between India’s adivasis and its metro elites is larger in many ways than the gap between people living in Delhi and New York. The victim often gets duped into thinking that she is headed for the good life of an Indian metro, and her parents are often hand in glove in selling her into such a scheme. The money given to the parents is a “down payment” to convert them, their daughter’s placement as maid being part of the transaction. Many churches also provide safe transfer of the girl’s monthly salary back to her parents, with a certain “donation” charged by the church for its services. All this is a package deal for “being saved”.

This end-to-end system functions like the old slave trade from Africa to America and other continents — in which the church had also played a major role. Today’s racket hides behind the mask of helping the downtrodden by finding them employment in a faraway place. By no means do I wish to imply that all abuses of maids from villages are the result of this system, but that fact that such a system exists outside the bounds of investigative scrutiny is noteworthy.

In the most recent episode of this tragedy, a woman executive working for a French multinational in Delhi has been arrested on charges of committing atrocities against a girl from the Santhal tribe of Jharkhand state. The maid comes from Sahibgunj, one of India’s poorest districts. The media is having a field day sensationalising this as child labour, even after the police confirmed that documents in her village show her to be over the age of 18. The girl had worked for this executive for only 3 months, prior to which she had worked in numerous other households in Delhi since age 15. So the child labour stage of her exploitation was done under several previous employers. But there is no investigation of the previous employers. Why?

The reason for authorities not pursuing the earlier employers is that the girl is a Christian convert from a very poor family; and uncovering the entire chain of events and parties involved would expose the nexus of the Jharkhand church, the political parties that use these poor folks as their vote bank, and various NGOs involved in so-called “human rights” programs. The placement agency in Delhi is run by a Christian woman with likely links to the Jharkhand Church. The media sensationalises the matter as an isolated, localised episode when in fact it deserves to be investigated as a system of mafia-like underground network.

Brinda Karat, the rabid voice of the Communist Party of India, swung into rapid action targeting the maid’s employer, but not wanting a broader inquiry into the supply network that originates in the remote villages where her party seeks support from the church and NGOs.

Many other political leaders also saw opportunity in this scandal to show support for dalit communities whose votes can swing elections. These remote villages are also infested with Maoists seeking to topple the Indian state. The political stakes are high and NGOs compete to prove their worth by claiming to champion the plight of the poor. The same NGOs also raise funds under various “noble” pretexts.

The media ought to act more responsibly than selling us Bollywood-style action drama. To expose the large criminal networks and attack the roots of the problem, they should emphasize some systemic changes. First and foremost, it should be declared illegal to offer employment or other material inducements for religious conversion of poor and vulnerable persons. In particular, the church, parents and agencies that are involved in peddling the labor of a person under age 18 should be prosecuted. This is the nexus where the focus of prosecution should be targeted when incidents of abuse are discovered.

At the same time, one should recognise the legitimate need for domestic servants in Indian metros. To serve this demand, agencies should have to be certified periodically that they are in compliance with all laws. This must include transparency of disclosure of the full details concerning every employee and employer served. There must be a mechanism by which the legal age of a potential maid can be formally ascertained and the agency must bear this burden prior to offering her as a candidate. All commissions and salary payments must be legalised.

The media must start educating the metro employers about the laws concerning minimum wages and others aspects. Right now most Delhi households lack such awareness, as the media has focused on sensationalism without its shouldering social responsibility or due diligence.

There are also many instances of exploitation in the reverse direction that should be noted: Elderly persons in Delhi are too often being criminally attacked by their domestic servants who threaten legal action with the help of NGOs, and thereby prevent the crime from being reported. I know of cases where a youth gang has repeatedly burglarised the house of an elderly woman living alone. The police have been reluctant to file charges because of the threat by NGOs that these youth criminals are protected as “minors”. This means tougher juvenile crime laws need to be enacted and enforced.

I have anticipated such NGO-backed crimes within India since the 1990s when I first became aware of foreign nexuses intervening in India’s so-called tribal areas. It was a Harvard Roundtable Conference on Indology sponsored by Infinity foundation where I found that Western scholars had become very interested in Indian communities belonging to the “Munda” family of languages. The thesis formulated was that the Munda people were the only indigenous peoples of India. They were first invaded by the “foreign Dravidians” coming from the Middle East, and later on both the Munda and the Dravidians got invaded by the “foreign Aryans”. Thus, Indians were classified into layers with the intention of empowering one group against the others. In my earlier book, Breaking India, I mention some important US based interventions through this type of anthropology and linguistics work.

The Santhal community where the maid in the latest scandal comes from is one of the largest communities in what is called India’s “tribal belt”. Most anthropological studies on them were done by Christian missionaries since British times. The colonial-evangelical lens used was the same as for other non-Christian peoples that were encountered outside Europe, and many of its prejudices have become accepted by modern Indians. The “tribals” are considered “pagans” because they believe in “animism”, meaning that they consider all of nature as inhabited with divine spirit. (Ironically, the latest trend among Western thinkers is to appropriate these very ideas into Judeo-Christianity, using fancy new terms like “panentheism” and “immanence” after studying Hindu philosophy on which such ideas are based.) These villages have been a hotbed for missionary activities for the past few centuries, and this intensified in 1914 when the first complete translation of the Bible into the Santali language was finished by a Norwegian missionary.

Clearly, the battle for fragmenting Indians has entered a new phase. “Tribal” Indians will be increasingly exploited in various ways in the guise of bringing them human rights. The media’s framing of such episodes as “secular” crimes of an isolated kind is a shallow and inadequate treatment of what is much deeper and multilayered. This issue has far reaching implications.

Published: October 15, 2013

  • Bharat

    Dear Rajivji,

    Thanks for this article. I am surprised to see that there are no comments on this post till now. Our family of 4 people (we 3 brothers and our Mother) are involved in contributing regularly to NGOs. After reading your book (Being DIfferent), and watching your various youtube videos, I was shocked that the money that we are donating might have actually worsened the situation. Our good intentions might be getting used to convert Hindus, and foment hate and intolerance!

    It would be good if you could share a list of “NGOs” which are involved in this kind of activity. Or if this is not possible, please share a list of NGOs other than Infinity Foundation itself, which ARE good and known to be good.

    • mko

      Rajiv Ji is up with his duties for nation and Dharma ,India needs some
      more Rajiv Malhotra to give impetus to the voice raised by Rajiv ji , He
      is alone in this battle and without weapons . By weapon I mean ,he is
      kept out of literary festivals both in India and abroad . No Indian
      media ,journals , internationally acclaimed encyclopedia like Britannica
      gives him chance to reach bigger masses . We should take it as an
      endeavor to help spread Rajiv ji’s message across the length and breadth
      of India & the world .

  • Deven Dass

    Hello Rajiv, Thank you for this forum, my name is Devendra Dass (Deven) from Johannesburg in South Africa. I have been introduced to your forum today by and Indian citizen living in Brasil. I find your article shocking to say the least. It is a travesty of justice that the authorities turn a blind eye to this exploitative practice. Something should be done and done soon. The wealthy people in “Delhi” who employ these children should be persecuted and prosecuted for this dastardly situation, as should be those NGO’s that perpetuate this practice. While I understand that the poor families of these girls probably see this as an income to alleviate their plight, they have to be informed somehow that this is nothing but a form of slavery and exploitation..Keep up the good work of informing the public..I shall be following you from now on..

    PS i would like to get a copy of you book…can i buy it online ..if so where?

    Deven Dass

    • Rabinder Koul

      Unless these are fully sold out you may be able to locate some on the web or in India.

  • Anil Kumar Nigam

    राजीवजी आपकी पोस्ट बहुत ही उच्च स्तर की होती हैं और उन पर पढ़ने में आनेवाली पर्तिक्रियाएं भी उतनी ही जबर्दस्त होती हैं, मैं आजकल आपकी पुस्तक Breaking India पढ़ रहा हूँ मुझे लगता है कि यह साहित्य आम लोगों तक पँहुचने क् लिए हिंदी में होना चाहिए, क्या मैं अपनी सेवाएं आपको भेंट कर सकता हूँ।

  • Vishwa Vidit

    eyeopening !! At least I have heard that some missionaries in tribal and rural belt are converting communities to christian on the name of doing social work…I can’t understand that why missionaries force for conversion of religion to doing good if they want to convert then simply convert them from misery to happiness from hunger to food…Rajiv Sir..You are doing lot of work to oppose the wrongdoing but request to join common youth like us also in this mission. Now we need a team who can go with the truth…Sir please suggest something to me in this regard !!

  • Arun Abraham

    Sir. I like to know this Cristian missionary name?. In India
    lots of Cristian missionary going good way. Only few of them like this. I and majority
    traditional Christian’s strongly agonist this type of people converts
    to Christianity. This is not good for Christianity.
    In the depth all same (Hindu and Christianity) no deferens then whey people convert.
    We all support you for take it out truth’s…………………

    I need your helps otherwise this type ford people make bad face for Christianity. arun abraham

    • RS

      Dear Arun, I respect your feelings but being of the other side of the world from where these NGOs are funded and the ways people use to allure to convert them are skyrocketing. I am not sure how come you are not aware of these types of activities? There is a nexus of so called NGOs, govt. and Vetican city which wants every single Indian to get converted. This is their agenda. I am sure you would love to read following : http://christianminorities.ap.nic.in/index.html

      More details can follow the articles.
      I have been to a church in USA where they ask please donate generously as they need it for helping the poor in India and bring them to the only savior Jesus. If you are intelligent enough, you will want to ask them a question that why not help your fellow citizens first who are very very poor, homeless and all that.

      On top of that, these types of NGOs are working at their full swing to monopolize and label INdian culture under their own name and called it a derivation of Christianity. It is disheartening to see that these people want to make their castle by making someone’s grave. Can they say that India never existed before Christianity? Of course they say that Indians were invaders from East and Europe and finally follow polytheism and got corrupted instead of accepting the supremacy of Indian tradition and its long standing culture.

      Read more history books. If need more information read books by Dr. Malhotra, Dr. Subramanian Swamy and you will get many answers. Blessings for you from your HINDU fellow.

    • Rekha Singh

      Arun ji, i would like to know name of christian missionary going good way?

    • Rabinder Koul

      Please read authors breaking India & being different.

  • NK Sarma

    as a scholar, you sure know that anything without reference or proof is most likely treated as rumor and imagination. While you have trust of your readers, please name atleast one NGO to add some credibility.

  • Mat Thachireth

    Christianity is a global religion.Even Jews are living under the shadow of it.Europe, America, Asia all part of the world they have right way of living. Let the history starts, 12500 years say one yougu (Era) In Hindusim (Khalikal) The prjapathi (Bhagat Geeta mentioned it.In Jews Thohara mentioned it. But How we got confused.

  • Sadanand Bhat

    Few years back there were lot of girls from north East (manipur, tripura etc) with hindu names studying in Manglore. They used to keep to themselves and some one else was paying for their education as they were from a poor background to be in a hostel – only recently realised after seeing the modus operandi in Andhra that this is missionary work where they convert the family and take a kid for studies and when they don’t have their education institute near by they sent them far away. So it is not surprising that they doing this maid business, they will stoop to any level to harvest souls, and when need be will sell them as slaves as they did to the poor Africans.

  • Sheela Mohan

    I knew conversion is going on for long . but didn’t know such an exploiting way. I wonder how come these actions of Christian missionaries are not getting noticed by the public or media.

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