Dr. Lakshmidhar Mishra’s work is based on a deep personal conviction. His advantages in life rest in no small measure on the blood, sweat and tears of the voiceless segments of humanity.
Dr. Mishra has dedicated more than five decades to living out this conviction. Born to illiterate parents, he excelled in his studies and became an IAS officer in 1963 at the exceptionally young age of 22. Since then, his postings in state and central government have brought him encounters with countless victims of oppression. Gripped by the appalling plight of child labourers and bonded labourers, Dr. Mishra took action- but he didn’t do so from the comfort of an office.
In 1984, as Socio-Legal Investigating Commissioner of the Supreme Court, Dr. Mishra sat amidst clouds of deadly silica dust gathering the stories of quarry workers and rock crushers. He still suffers from serious respiratory problems that have nearly cost him his life. Dr. Mishra found himself under constant surveillance with threats to his own life as well as to the frightened labourers.Undeterred, he completed his investigation and presented the court with two volumes of documentation on the deplorable conditions of the workers.
Dr. Mishra has battled bonded labour and other abuses on multiple fronts, yet his energies have not diminished over time. He has authored 300 articles and 15 books including the 500-page Human Bondage: Tracing its Roots in India. As a result of his work on a variety of issues Dr. Mishra is the recipient of the National Unity Award, the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Award, the Dr Malcolm S. Adiseshiah Award, the SramikBandhu Award, the SaheedDhoom Das award.
In 2000, Dr. Mishra took voluntary retirement from his role as Union Labour Secretary, in order to become a Senior Advisor for the International Labour Organization with the United Nations. He has since served as a Special Rapporteur for the National Human Rights Commission and Special Adviser for the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
He has recently addressed sensitization workshops in three states, sent proposals on amendments to the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act and Rules to the National Human Rights Commission, and is busy creating State Level Action plans on the elimination of bonded labour for several states. Though he has seen the darkness of bonded labour, Dr. Mishra continues to work from a platform of hope, insisting that “Full elimination of the bonded labour system is not utopian; it is feasible and achievable.”