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Bonded Child Labor in the Beedi Industry in India

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Bonded Child Labor in the Beedi Industry in India "My sister is ten years old. Every morning at seven she goes to the bonded labor man, and every night at nine she comes home. He treats her badly; he hits her if he thinks she is working slowly or if she talks to the other children, he yells at her, he comes looking for her if she is sick and cannot go to work. I feel this is very difficult for her...For six hundred rupees I can bring her home...We don't have six hundred rupees...we will never have six hundred rupees." - Nine-year-old beedi (cigarette) roller. India has the largest number of working children in the world ranging from incredible numbers of sixty to one hundred and fifteen million children. They have been working since they were small children, around four or five years old. When they hit adulthood, many of them would be irreversibly sick and some even deformed. They would be exhausted old men and women likely to die before the hit fifty years old. These children do not go to school and they will never be able to read or write. ...read more.


Annual sales tower over forty billion rupees per year and is one of India's biggest domestic industries. Beedi rolling is long, tedious and stationary work. The children in the factories sit crossed legged on the ground all day, with a basket in their laps. The basket holds all the materials needed to roll these non-filtered cigarettes, which includes the tobacco and the rolling papers, which come from the large leaves of the Tendu plant. The children take the rolling paper, sprinkles tobacco in it, roll it, and then hands it off to a younger child who closes the tips. The younger children start off as tip closers and works his or her way up to a roller. The pace that the cigarettes are made is very fast, with "expert" children rolling then in a matter of seconds. These so-called expert rollers roll up to two thousand beedies a day. In order to keep the tremendous pace, the employers watch over the children like hawks watching their prey. The children are scolded or are often hit if the pace is not up to their standard. Children have been known to be forced to work with a matchbox tucked in between their neck and chin. ...read more.


Act and a whole lot more. According to the Government of India, bonded labor and child labor are inevitable. It is caused by the high poverty rates of the country and will take a great deal to stop it. It represents the natural order of life and cannot be changed by force. It must be evolved slowly toward eradication of such a harsh practice. The Government has done little to help these vulnerable children and it seems that they might not do much. They are trying to maintain their competitive lead in the world marketplace. The last thing that the Indian Government has ever tried to do was initiated by the former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, who announced in 1994 that he would bring two million children out of the hazardous child labor. This figure only accounts for three percent of the children in these hazardous, harsh practices. What will happen to the other ninety seven percent? The new Government of India that was elected in 1996 has also announced that they will eradicate all child labor in India and provide free compulsory elementary school; however, nothing has been done to fulfill this promise and maybe nothing will be done. ...read more.

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