A study of child labor practices in the oriental carpet industry in Bhadohi, Uttar Pradesh, India
MetadataShow full item record
The Oriental carpet industry has woven in its fabric the lives and livelihoods of a number of different but inter-connected players. Since the 1980s the carpet industry has come under criticism for practices with regards to child labor. Though numerous development programs have since been initiated, this study probes deeper in order to understand people's perceptions regarding the current treatment of child laborers in the district of Sant Ravidas Nagar Bhadohi, Uttar Pradesh, a key weaving center of the carpet belt of India. This research was guided by two key questions: (1) How do the study participants perceive the positive and negative aspects of child labor?; (2) How do they perceive the values and costs of schooling for children up to the age of 14 years? It also addresses adult and child laborers specifically with the related question of how they envision the future, and their own capacity to direct and shape it. The research sample included a total of 96 participants, the main categories being exporters, contractors, local and migrant laborers, adults and children alike, freed child laborers, development professionals and local educators. What the study reveals is that 77% of participants believe that though child labor is harmful, it is, under certain circumstances, necessary for survival; 21% believe that child labor is beneficial with a few harmful consequences. Notably only 5%, none of who are adult or child laborers themselves, believe that child labor must be abolished. This study does find that migrant child labor is abused relentlessly, is indistinguishable from bonded labor, and recommends a ban on all migrant child labor by children aged 14 and less. This recommendation must be followed upon by provision of livelihoods, including carpet-weaving, for the impoverished families who are the source of this migrant child labor. Nearly 70% of the participants stated that schooling is beneficial, but the quality of schooling leaves much to be desired. Governmental efforts towards provision of primary education in Bhadohi have been criticized as deplorable. Furthermore, there is a real sense of frustration with the lack of employment opportunities even for well-educated adults. Despite this disillusionment with the current system, schooling continues to be greatly valued and sought after. This study recommends that schooling for children in rural areas needs to be tailored to their work schedules, and include skills-training and technical education as part of its curriculum. Finally, this study recommends that adult literacy for both men and women, of all ages, must be re-vitalized and linked to relevant topics such as livelihood generation, microfinance and health, among others.
RightsThis work is being made available in OpenBU by permission of its author, and is available for research purposes only. All rights are reserved to the author.