Skip to main content

Child labour "rampant" 15 km off Gujarat capital in Shertha chili segregating fields

By Kevin Antao*
Shertha, a semi-urban town area 15 kilometres away from Gujarat capital Gandhinagar, and situated on the bustling Ahmedabad-Mehsana highway, comes to life from the first week of February till April-end, when its fields are filled with different shades of red chilies or red peppers.
Shertha is one of the 21 town areas of Gandhinagar taluka of Gandhinagar district. According to administration records, it has 1844 houses. With a population of around 9,000, of whom 51% of whom are males, the literacy rate here is 82% as against female literacy rate of 69%. Just about 14% of the working population (around 3,400) of Shertha is dependent on agriculture.
This is the place where two major chili varieties, Reshampatti and Kashmiri, apart from many others from across the country, make their way each year. If Reshampatti chilies are mainly used by Guajaratis and Maharashtrians for pickle purpose, the Kashmiri chili is smaller, rounder and less pungent, but lends a very bright red color to the food, and is mostly used in tandoori dishes.
Shertha is the place where the stalks of chilies are removed, are dried in sunlight, and then crushed into powder. There are around ten units involved in this massive business. Workers employed by these units remove the stalks, segregate them and dry chilies.
The workers are not just locals from Shertha, but also migrants from Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Many of them come here with their families, including children.
The Government of India may have banned child labour, but here one can see many children from the age of six working for the segregation of chilies. They remove stalks of chilies, which, say those involved in the job, become a cause of major health hazard to kids, who inhale their pungent smell.
These children along with their parent sit in the open fields exposed to the cold winds of February and hot sun of March-April. The Right to Education Act does not appear to have touched them. They do not go to school, as they are busy working with their parents, often for more than eight hours a day.
These chilies, once dried are crushed into powder, are a hot favourite with Non-Resident Gujaratis (NRGs) living in USA, UK and Canada, to whom they are exported, as also the middle classes and elite sections of Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad and other neighbouring cities.
One of the dealers claimed, this is a 200 years old busy, bringing in good financial benefits.
---
*Independent photo journalist, based in Gandhinagar

Comments

TRENDING

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.

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

Modi model? "Refusal" to build Narmada's micro canals, keep Kutch dry; help industry

By Medha Patkar*
This is the latest photograph of the Kutch Branch Canal (KBC) of the Sardar Sarovar, as of April 8! What does it show, expose, and what memories do you recall? Is it dry or dead? Is it a canal or a carcass of the same?

Bill Gates "promoting" GMO, Bt cotton, like cartels that have roots in Hitler's Germany

By Our Representative
World-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr Vandana Shiva has expressed concern that Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation, has joined the bandwagon of “a poison cartel of three" – Monsanto and Bayer, Syngenta and ChemChina, Dow and DuPont – all of whom allegedly have “roots in Hitler’s Germany and finding chemicals to kill people”.

Indian talc products contain "contaminated" asbestos structures, can cause cancer: Study

Counterview Desk
A recent study, using polarizing light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction, and X-ray analysis on multiple over-the-counter Indian talc products for the presence of asbestos, has concluded that large quantities of body talc products are likely to pose a public health risk for asbestos-related diseases, especially for the cancers related to asbestos exposure.

Why are you silent on discrimination against Dalit jawans? Macwan questions Modi

By Rajiv Shah
Close on the heels of releasing his book in Gujarati, "Bhed Bharat", which lists 319 cases of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis across the country over the last five years, well-known Gujarat Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan has shot an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telling him the reasons why he does not want vote for the BJP.

Jharkhand Adivasi lynched to death by mob "chanting" Jai Shri Ram: Fact-finding team

Counterview Desk
On April 10, 2019, Prakash Lakda, a 50-year old Adivasi of Jurmu village of Gumla’s Dumri block, was lynched to death by a mob of men from the Sahu community of neighbouring Jairagi village. Three other victims from Jurmu – Peter Kerketta, Belarius Minj and Janerius Minj – sustained severe injuries due to the beating by the mob. A fact-finding team of Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), comprising of several activists and representatives of member organisations, conducted a fact-finding inquiry into the incident on April 14-15.

Investigation shows Narmada downstream "seriously" polluted. Reason: apathy, greed

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant, Swati Desai*
Our investigation regarding quality of water flowing in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD), dated April 6, 2019, between 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. reiterates, what is commonly known now, that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is planned without considering its impact on the downstream Narmada River stretch of 161 kilometres, its ecology, biodiversity and fishery, and lakhs of people living close to and dependent on the river directly or indirectly. This, in turn, has led to its present disastrous state.

Emergence of a rare Dalit teacher in IIT-Kanpur "disturbed" certain faculty members

By PS Krishnan, IAS (Retd)*
Dr Subrahmanyam Sadrela, a faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur since January 1, 2018, and one of the rare Dalit members of the faculty in IIT group of institutions, is facing the threat of revocation of his PhD thesis, and thereby also jeopardizing his job and career.

RTE in remote areas? Govt of India "plans" to close down 2.4 lakh schools

By Srijita Majumder*
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, came into effect on April 1, 2010, for the first time made it obligatory on the part of the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from 6-14 years of age in India. The Act, despite its limitations, had progressive elements like neighbourhood schools, community participation, ban on corporal punishment, no detention, continuous and comprehensive evaluation and it hence it appeared that India was not far from achieving universal elementary education.