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 Sheth 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

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Did Modi own, buy digital camera costing Rs 7 lakh in 1987-88, also used email?

Counterview Desk
In an interview to the news channel News Nation, aired on Saturday last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that he had approved the air strike despite bad weather because he felt the clouds would hide Indian planes from Pakistani radar is known to have become a laughing stock across India.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Terror attacks: Difference in public reactions in India, those in Colombo, Christchurch

By Battini Rao*
Recently, on April 20 during Easter Sunday, more than 250 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Local Islamic organisations Thawheed Jamath (NJT) and Jamathei Milathu Ibrahim (JMI) are held responsible for the attack. Islamic State has also claimed responsibility.

Women lost 88 lakh jobs in 2018: Why Modi "failed" to address their disempowerment?

Counterview Desk
Five human rights leaders Anjali Bhardwaj, Shabnam Hashmi, Purnima Gupta, Dipta Bhog, and Amrita Johri of the Women March for Change have posed 56 questions (alluding to Modi’s claim of 56 inches chest) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP against the backdrop of his interview with a Bollywood star, which was allegedly masqueraded as a “non-political” conversation.

PepsiCo warned: Withdraw cases against Gujarat farmers or face dire consequences

By Our Representative
About 200 farmers’ leaders and activists, in a letter to Dr KV Prabhu, chairperson, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPVFRA), and Dr R C Agrawal, registrar general, PPVFRA, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India, have demanded that PepsiCo immediately withdraw all the legal suits it has slapped on many potato farmers in different districts of Gujarat.

During Emergency, the ruler was extolled but Opposition wasn't punched around: Scribe

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released book, “India: The Wrong Transition”, by a top Delhi-based scribe Anand K Sahay, has quoted “journalistic circles” to say that the Indian mainstream media – with certain “honourable exceptions” – has virtually abandoned the “practice of journalism”, and  this happened following a “sting operation” that showed that “the crème de la crème of Indian journalism were only too willing, for a suitable price, to let poisonous Hindutva propaganda prevail in their news columns.”

Ex-IAS, IPS, IFS officers tell Modi: Pragya Thakur doesn't represent India's rich heritage

Counterview Desk
In an open statement, a group of former civil servants have said that normally they would have dismissed the candidature of Pragya Thakur, who is BJP’s choice for the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, as an act of political expediency. However, they were forced to react to her candidature after none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed has as a “symbol of our civilisational heritage.”

Disproportionately high death sentences against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims: UN told

Counterview Desk
In their joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to meet for the listing of adoption of list of issues at its 126th session, July 1-26, 2019, top Dalit rights organizations have taken strong exception to, among other things, "disproportional application of death sentencing by the judiciary of minorities, such as Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis".