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‘Cotton’s Forgotten Children’ claims half a million children work at cottonseed fields

Here’s again a report on child labour in Indian textile industry. Dr. Davuluri Venkateswarlu, Director Glocal Research, Hyderabad has come up with ‘Cotton’s Forgotten Children’ report. The report published by The India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) criticizes the Indian State Governments, especially Gujarat and Rajasthan, for ‘not paying serious attention to tackle the issue’ and ‘being in the denying mood’. The 47-page report claims around half a million children are working in the seed fields and about 200,000 of them are below 14 years of age. The report also contains 11 recommendations for both companies, the National Seed Association of India and the (State) Governments to tackle child labour, below official minimum or living wages and other labour rights violations. 

The report further states that there are also some hopeful signs like the number of children below 14 working on seed farms – in proportion to the total workforce – has dropped in all states. In Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu there was a significant decline of 42% and 69%, respectively, in term of young children working in the seed fields.

The report says, “Children below 14 – of which two-thirds are girls – are employed in the seed fields on a long-term contract basis through loans extended to their parents by local seed producers, who have agreements with the large national and multinational seed companies. Children are made to work 8 to 12 hours a day and are exposed to poisonous pesticides used in high quantities in cottonseed cultivation. Most of the children working in cottonseed farms belong to poor Dalit (‘outcaste’), Adivasi (tribal) or Backward Castes families. Around 70% of the children are hired or even trafficked from other states while 30% is ‘family labour’. Most are school-dropouts.”