CHILD LABOUR IN INDIA
Posted on May 27th, 2014

ALI SUKHANVER

This highly civilized, educated and marvelously scientific world of today says that child labour is simply a severe violation of basic human rights; but in spite of this realization, throughout the world more than 215 million children aging from five to seventeen are compelled to work under conditions that are considered illegal, perilous and extremely exploitative according to the book of moral values.

What is Child labour? Different people might be having different definitions of child labour but the easiest and the most impressive answer to this question is that child labor is the work that harms children or keeps them from attending school. Even in the USA, the situation regarding child labour is not very pleasant.

The gap between the rich and the poor not only in USA but also in other parts of the world is growing day by day rapidly; poverty is increasing; population is growing and as a result of this hazardous situation, millions of children belonging to the poor families are left with only one option; they have to work to save their families from the cruel clutches of disease and hunger.

According to a recent report of the International Labor Organization, ‘Underage children work at all sorts of jobs around the world, usually because they and their families are extremely poor. Large numbers of children work in commercial agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, mining, and domestic service. Some children work in illicit activities like the drug trade and prostitution or other traumatic activities such as serving as soldiers.’ But the US department of Labour has something more frightening to say.

The department issued a report on child labour in India somewhere in 2012. The report says, ‘India made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor by passing new legislation to protect children from sexual offenses, from trafficking and forced labor. But the worst forms of child labor continue to exist in many sectors.

Children work in agriculture, producing crops such as rice and hybrid seeds and picking cotton. Children who work in agriculture use dangerous tools, carry heavy loads, and apply harmful pesticides. Children in India also work under hazardous conditions manufacturing a variety of products, quarrying stone and other materials, breaking stones, and polishing gems.’

The Harvard School of Public Health recently conducted a study assessment survey on painful fate of the innocent children who are playing a pivotal role in the carpet industry of India. There are several thousand children who are forced to work in carpet industry in the North-Indian states.

The survey report indicates that it is not only the carpet industry where innocent children are doing labour; these innocent workers are also in the field of making matches, glass bangles, fireworks, cigarettes, incense sticks, footwear, garments, hand-loomed silk fabric, leather, and brassware.

During their work, these children are exposed to harmful chemicals and dangerous machinery and tools. The experts of the Harvard School of Public Health have concluded that most of these children have to face joint pain, headaches, hearing loss, skin infections, respiratory problems, and finger deformities.

The government of India is very well aware of the situation but it is unable to take any stern action against those who force the children to work in the factories because most of the factories are owned by the Indian politicians. The most frightening thing with reference to the child labour is that the children are being recruited by extra-legal armed groups to serve as soldiers in zones where armed conflict is occurring such as by the Naxalites in Chhattisgarh. However the main area of interest of the experts of the Harvard School of Public Health had been the child labour in carpet industry of India.

The report includes some painful statements of innocent carpet workers who were even not aware of their pitiable fate when they were forced into this industry. Some of them are now grown up boys. A twenty five years old boy from Jharkand told the researchers that he was just ten years old when he became a carpet worker. He said, “I came to Bhadoi from Jharkand with my brother.

The contractor promised that we would earn 200 Rupees per day and we would have food and clean quarters. Now we are locked in this factory and we two get just 100 rupees per day for twelve hours work. I didn’t want to leave my home but we have no other option.” The report says that that India’s hand-made carpet sector is actually a horrific business where 20% of workers are children.

They work in sub-human conditions, toiling up to 12 or more hours a day to weave beautiful carpets which are very much popular in the western countries. If the western people had even the slightest knowledge that their favourite carpets were the result of the exploited child labour, they would have certainly discouraged using and buying these carpets.

It is being hoped that newly elected prime Minister of India would pay attention to this problem of child-labour but another more bitter truth is that Mr. Moodi would never get ample time to look into the matter personally. He has more important things to do. He has got a golden opportunity of settling old scores with the Muslims and this is certainly a time-taking task.

One Response to “CHILD LABOUR IN INDIA”

  1. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Quoting the article: “The government of India is very well aware of the situation but it is unable to take any stern action against those who force the children to work in the factories because most of the factories are owned by the Indian politicians.”

    India’s problems ranging from child labor, her slums, the lack of latrines, lack of a basic infrastructure, sewer systems, the unchecked migration of the rural population into urban centers is the result of endemic corruption and not the lack of resources. The city governments of Mumbai, Calcutta, Noida, Delhi, Chennai, and many other commercial cities have some of the highest real estate values in the world. The taxes from them alone should show some level of infrastructural development. These cities also get funding from the Capital and from foreign organizations such as the World bank the IMF and the BRICS bank to name a few. Yet since India opened her economy in 1991 catapulting her middle class and sustaining a growth of around 8% for over a decade all of the above mentioned social problems have only got worse.

    Anna Hazare started a grassroots movement against this corruption a few years ago but with no perceivable success. Many bad things can be said of the British Raj but not her management skills. The British took marshlands in and built Calcutta and Bombay (Mumbai). Their signature piece city being Lutyen’s New Delhi. The British were able to expand these cities’ infrastructure (water systems, sewer, electricity, railways, roads, police, schools, parks etc) to meet the ever increasing migration of rural folk. The same can be said of US cities. Often the US boasts that her poorest have access to the basic necessities of modern life including the capacity to have a phone, TV, and even a car while those in India “cannot even afford that”. They can. Some of the highest rents are in those slums which lack the basic necessities of a modern society.

    This social problem is not unique to India but can be seen in every rapidly developing nation with a few exceptions such as Sri Lanka. Even Brazil has massive slums in Rio De Janeiro and again like India it is not due to poverty but rampant corruption. This is the massive task that the BJP and Narendra Modi face. they have to figure how to cut the rot of corruption conveniently encased in red tape and unleash India’s human resources to address these myriad problems. He has to emulate the lessons of management so successfully done in Japan or Israel.

    Japan which is the size of California and has a population of 125 million people with no natural resources has managed to build the third largest economy of the world. While California with a population of 40 million and rich in natural resources is almost bankrupt. Israel was a barren piece of land but the Jews took that land and made into a breadbasket. Today Israel is a food exporting nation with her agricultural sector amounting to only 2% of her economy. This all boils down to the skills of managing human and natural resources which requires transparency and the lack of endemic corruption.

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