Skip to main content

Ample evidence of child labour in South Gujarat's cash rich sugarcane belt, 24% "not enrolled" in school: Study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent German government-funded study, undertaken jointly by the NGO Prayas Centre for Labour Research and Action and the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, which mainly deals examines the working conditions of migrant workers in the cash-rich sugarcane zone of South Gujarat, has gone a long way to suggest large scale prevalence of child labour during the harvesting season.
About 1.75 lakh workers, most of them landless migrants coming from the tribal belts of Gujarat and Maharashtra, are employed as harvesters in sugarcane fields, owned by the rich and politically powerful rural lobby, which has strong stakes in cooperative sugar factories in the region. Working for five to six months starting in November, these workers move in 5,000 teams led by 2,000 brokers or mukadams, an upwardly mobile tribal middle class.
The study says, “A very large section had been engaged with one or the other livelihood activity since they were children”, giving the example of Shiva Sonvani, a native of a village in Sakri taluka of Dhule district, Maharashtra. The 52-year old harvester, a landless worker, “has never stepped into a school due to the extremely weak economic status of his parents”.
“He does not remember the exact age at which he started working but he got engaged with livelihood activity beginning as a small child helping his parents by adding into the family’s income. He recollected that poverty was so severe at times that often they could not feed themselves twice a day and sometimes had to remain hungry for a day or two”, the study says.
Suggesting that things are not very different for others, the study underlines, “In the age group of 46 years and above more than 70% of the harvesters have been doing this work for the last 16 years, and out of them a large majority, 40%, are in this activity for the last 21 years.”
It adds, “Similarly, in the age group of 31-35 years more than 75% of harvesters have been working for more than 10 years.” Then, “Nearly 50% of the harvesters in the age group of 21-25 indicated that they have been working for the last 6 to 10 years.”
Pointing out that the researchers’ survey among harvesters suggests that “a little more than a quarter of the population comprised of children below 14 years of age at camp-sites”, the study says, one finds that each group of harvesters consisting of 15 kyotas (each kyota consists of two harvesters, usually husband and wife) has “five school going age of 7 to 14 years and eight children below 6 years.”
Noting most of these children do not attend schools, the study says, “A large section of them are second or even third generation of sugarcane harvesters with their own children moving with during harvesting season.”
It adds, “Only during non-harvesting period when parent-harvesters return back to their native places do the children attend schools.” In fact, according to the study, “Getting their children educated is a luxury for them when mere survival is the core issue.”
Pointing out that even though almost 8 out of every 10 villages, from where the migrant workers come, have primary schools, as has been revealed in the narration, “most of the children of harvesters remain deprived of them.” 
“Raghu Thakre belongs to Vagoda village of Nandurbar taluka of Maharashtra. The 30-year-old harvester could not pursue his studies as he and his siblings accompanied their parents harvesting sugarcanes in south Gujarat region. He too became member of his father’s koyta unit at the age of 15”, the study states.
Thakre informed the researchers, he has got this work “as inheritance from his father and his father too inherited it from his grandfather”, adding, his own children too would “do the same work ensuring the continuity of the vicious cycle.” 
Data on the status of enrolment of children (who were at camp-sites) also indicates, says the study, that, at their native places, “one-fourth of them are not enrolled, though some of them may be toddlers.” It adds, “Even though majority of them are enrolled in schools in native villages their studies suffer tremendously as they can attend schools for only few months, which in turn, affects their overall education graph detrimentally.”

Comments

Uma said…
If this is the state of affairs in Modi's home state what must other states be like? Is this an example of "Sabka saath, sabka vikaas"?

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Labelling a Jesuit a Marxist? It's like saying if you use a plane, you become American

Jesuits: Cedric Prakash, Stan Swamy By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* A thirteen- fourteen-year-old has many dreams! That's an impressionable age; at the cusp of finishing school. It is also a time when one tastes a different kind of freedom: to go for camps with boys of your own age (not with ones family). Such camps and outings were always enjoyed to the hilt. The ones, however, which still remain etched in my memory are the mission camps to the Jesuit missions in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Did Modi promote Dholavira, a UNESCO site now, as Gujarat CM? Facts don't tally

By Rajiv Shah  As would generally happen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet – that not only was he “absolutely delighted” with the news of UNESCO tag to Dholavira, but he “ first visited ” the site during his “student days and was mesmerised by the place” – is being doubted by his detractors. None of the two tweets, strangely, even recalls once that it’s a Harappan site in Gujarat.

Giant conglomerates 'favoured': Whither tribal rights for jal-jungle-jameen?

Prafull Samantara By Mohammad Irshad Ansari*  The struggle for “Jal, Jungle and Jameen” has been a long-drawn battle for the tribal communities of India. This tussle was once again in the limelight with the proposed diamond mining in the Buxwaha forest of Chhatarpur (Madhya Pradesh). The only difference in this movement was the massive social media support it gained, which actually seems to tilt the scale for the tribal people in a long time.

If not Modi, then who? Why? I (an ordinary citizen) am there! Main hoon naa!

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The number of women ministers is doubled in early July from the first term after cabinet reshuffle by the present government led by Narendra Modi. While there were 06 women ministers in the previous term, this term there are 11. The previous two governments led by Dr Manmohan Singh had 10 women ministers in each tenure. Are these number of women ministers something to rejoice in the near 75 years of independence? Yes maybe, if we think that things are slowly improving in the patriarchal system. This change is less likely to achieve gender balance in the parliament otherwise we require more than 11 as per the 33% reservation . This change is also less likely because the men politicians’ inability to handle the country’s mess is becoming more and more evident and especially during the corona crisis. Seems, the addition of more women ministers may be a result of the recent assembly elections where women played a decisive role in the election results. For example

Tussle between Modi-led BJP govt, Young India 'key to political battle': NAPM

Counterview Desk  In its month-long campaign, civil rights network National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM) carried out what it called Young People's Political Persecution and Resistance in “solidarity with all comrades facing political persecution and remembering human rights defender Stan Swamy…”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Gujarat govt gender insensitive? Cyclone package for fisherfolk 'ignores' poor women

By Our Representative A memorandum submitted to the Gujarat government by various fisherfolk associations of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat under the leadership of Ahmedabad NGO Centre for Social Justice's senior activist Arvind Khuman, who is based in Amreli, has suggested that the relief package offered to the fishermen affected by the Tauktae cyclone is not only inadequate, it is also gender insensitive.

Debt bondage, forced labour, sexual abuse in Gujarat's Bt cottonseed farms: Dutch study

By Rajiv Shah  A just-released study, sponsored by a Netherlands-based non-profit, Arisa , “Seeds of Oppression Wage sharecropping in Bt cottonseed production in Gujarat, India”, has said that a new form of bondage, or forced labour, exists in North India’s Bt cottonseed farms, in which bhagiyas, or wage sharecroppers, are employed against advances and are then often required to work for years together “without regular payment of wages.”

Covid: We failed to stop religious, political events, admits Modi-dharmacharya meet

Counterview Desk An email alert sent by one the 11 participants, Prof Salim Engineer, on behalf of the Dharmik Jan Morcha regarding their "religious leaders' online meet" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, even as offering "support to meet challenges of Corona pandemic", blames religious congregations, though without naming the Maha Kumbh and other religious events, which apparently were instrumental in the spread of the second wave.