New Delhi, India

India is one of the world’s largest countries with one of the world’s fastest growing economies, but it is deeply affected by the scourge of modern slavery and human trafficking. With a population over 1.2 billion people, there is an inordinate challenge on government to manage precious resources so that its people can live with food, shelter, health care, education and employment opportunities, as well as being able to practice their religious and spiritual beliefs.

On 3 December 2015, eight Indian religious and spiritual leaders signed a Joint Declaration to end modern slavery at the Global Freedom Network gathering in New Delhi. This landmark declaration was signed by religious and spiritual leaders from the Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Jain, Baha’i and Jewish religions, who together represent more than 95% of the Indian population.

The Joint Declaration ceremony began with the religious leaders gathered on stage for the lighting of the candle, followed by the formal introductions of each religious leader. The Global Freedom Network Chairman, Mr Andrew Forrest then officially opened the proceedings. Andrew explained why they were all gathered on that special day, 3 December 2015, in the Stein Auditorium. He stated in Hindi, “human life is sacred” and gave personal testimony of his learnings about modern slavery through his daughter’s experience in Nepal some years ago.

Andrew made a passionate plea to the faith leaders with his concluding remarks and said,“What I heard was when one person, one boy, one girl, one man and one woman is freed from slavery, you free the hearts of mankind all over the world. You set the example. I ask our great faith leaders, our great spiritual leaders to free the hearts of India, and so lead the world.”