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

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

World Bank needs a new perspective on development, not just a new president

By Maju Varghese*
The resignation of the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was an unexpected development given the fact that he had three more years to complete his tenure. Resignations at such a high level after bidding for a second term is unusual which prompts people to think what would have led to the act itself.

Not just Indian women engineers, men too face sexual harassment at workplace: US study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent research, carried out jointly by two US-based non-profit organizations, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Center for WorkLife Law (WLL), based at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, has found that 45% of women engineers as against 28% of men engineers complained that it was perceived as “inappropriate when women argued at work, even when it was work-related.”