Child Labor

Political, Economic And Social

The world's largest democracy and second most populous country emerged as a major power in the 1990s. It is militarily strong, has major cultural influence and a fast-growing and powerful economy. Independent India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, dreamed of a socialist society and created a vast public infrastructure, much of which became a burden on the state.

India is the world's second most populous country after China

From the late 1980s India began to open up to the outside world, encouraging economic reform and foreign investment. It is now courted by the world's leading economic and political powers, including its one-time foe China.

The country has a burgeoning urban middle class and has made great strides in fields such as information technology. Its large, skilled workforce makes it a popular choice for international companies seeking to outsource work.

But economic progress is hampered by corruption, widely regarded as endemic and engulfing every level of politics and society.

The vast mass of the rural population remains impoverished. Their lives continue to be influenced by the ancient Hindu caste system, which assigns each person a place in the social hierarchy.

Child Labor

India is sadly the home to the largest number of child laborers in the world. The census found an increase in the number of child laborers from 11.28 million in 1991 to 12.59 million in 2001. M.V. Foundation in Andhra Pradesh found nearly 400,000 children, mostly girls between seven and 14 years of age, toiling for 14-16 hours a day in cottonseed production across the country of which 90% are employed in Andhra Pradesh. 40% of the labour in a precious stone cutting sector is children. NGOs have discovered the use of child laborers in mining industry in Bellary District in Karnataka in spite of a harsh ban on the same. In urban areas there is a high employment of children in the zari and embroidery industry.

Poverty and lack of social security are the main causes of child labour. The increasing gap between the rich and the poor, privatization of basic services and the neo-liberal economic policies are causes major sections of the population out of employment and without basic needs. This adversely affects children more than any other group. Entry of multi-national corporations into industry without proper mechanisms to hold them accountable has lead to the use of child labour. Lack of quality universal education has also contributed to children dropping out of school and entering the labour force. A major concern is that the actual number of child laborers goes un-detected. Laws that are meant to protect children from hazardous labour are ineffective and not implemented correctly.

List the industries in India country that utilize child labor

  • Diamond industry
  • Rug Industry
  • Sex Industry
  • Apparel Industryfile:///Users/a127882/Desktop/Unknown-5.jpeg

Treatment of Child Laborers

The treatment of children in factories was often cruel and unusual, and the children's safety was generally neglected. The youngest children, who were not old enough to work the machines, were commonly sent to be assistants to textile workers. The people who the children served would beat them, verbally abuse them, and take no consideration for their safety. Both boys and girls who worked in factories were subject to beatings and other harsh forms of pain infliction. One common punishment for being late or not working up to quota would be to be "weighted." An overseer would tie a heavy weight to worker's neck, and have them walk up and down the factory aisles so the other children could see them and "take example." This could last up to an hour. Weighting could lead to serious injuries in the back and/or neck. Punishments such as this would often be dispensed under stringent rules. Boys were sometimes dragged naked from their beds and sent to the factories only holding their clothes, to be put on there. This was to make sure the boys would not be late, even by a few minutes.Child labor: Movements to Regulate
There were people in this time period that strongly advocated the use or the abolishment of child labor, or at least the improvement of conditions. Factory owners loved child labor, and they supported their reasoning with ideas that it was good for everything from the economy to the building of the children's characters. Parents of the children who worked were almost forced to at least approve of it because they needed the income. There were, however, some important figures that fought for the regulation, improvement, and/or abolishment of child labor.

Are they paid? If so, how much?

Often such children are as young as six or seven years old. Often their hours of labour are 12 to 16 hours a day. Often their place of work is the sweatshop, the mine, the refuse heap, or the street. Often the work itself is dull, day-long, repetitive, low-paid or unpaid. Sometimes the child works under the threat of violence and intimidation, or is subject to sexual exploitation.

In the 1990s, child labour has found a new niche in the rapidly expanding export industries of some developing countries. In one small carpet factory in Asia, children as young as five were found to work from 6 in the morning until 7 at night for less than 20 cents a day. In another, they sat alongside adults for 12 to 14 hours in damp trenches, dug to accommodate the carpet looms on which they wove. In a garment factory, nine-year-olds worked around the clock sewing shirts for three days at a stretch, permitted only two one-hour breaks, during which they were forced to sleep next to their machines. Extracting such high human cost, child labour is nevertheless cheap. A shirt that sells in the United States for $60 can cost less than 10 cents in labour.


As the country develops economically, people are becoming increasingly aware of the problem. Tackling child labor in India has been a priority for nearly 25 years – ever since the first government program, the National Child Labour Projects (NCLP) at the end of the 1980s. Over the years this program has been refined and improved. It now addresses multiple aspects of the problem, such as offering and improving:

  • Vocational training;
  • Public education;
  • Economic opportunities for poor families.

The National Child Labor Policy has come to understand that its best shot was to bring around the table the various actors involved in this: government agencies, private companies (to increase wages), unions and NGOs. That is indeed the best way for them to tackle - in a coordinated manner - all the different causes of child labor in India.

But they need to include the people as well because it’s important to remember that culture and social customs are another factor that has consequences on children’s lives. For instance, many parents don’t understand or aren’t really aware of the impact of allowing girls to have an education. A new survey by the government will be conducted in the near future to update current numbers and facts about child labor in India. This will allow them to better understand the impact of the recently expanded NCLP as well as their cooperation with the International Labor Organization (ILO).

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