Saturday, August 29, 2009

Child Labor in India

This was my team's entry in Prayaas 2009, a case study competition on child labor by Bhavishya. Bhavishya represents the united voice of the students of IIM Lucknow against the strains in our social fabric. Bhavishya is active in the domains of education, unemployment and health and women empowerment. It leverages the technical and managerial competency of students and the faculty to aid NGOs and the government. The other two musketeers studying the case along with me were Joshin and Mayank. Although we did not win the competition, I'd like to share the three cases we studied.

Below are the cases along with our suggestions

Case 1 – Mohit – aged 12 – sells ice cream.
We met Mohit at Kapoorthala, Lucknow. He was selling ice-cream. To break the ice, and to get to conversation mode, we approached him and bought an ice cream. Conversing with him we got to know his story. Facts about Mohit:

• He is 12 years old.
• Lives near Aliganj, Thana.
• Has never gone to school, although he desires to go to school someday.
• Family members involved in similar small businesses.
• His brother is a mechanic and uncle is a street vendor.
• He earns an amount of Rs. 100 – 200 per day and promptly hands over the money to his family.
• Mohit is a tobacco user.
Our Views
• He has been deprived of education because family has forced him to earn bread & butter.
• He is unaware of how education can help him, and negative effects of tobacco use.
• He wants to go to school if possible when he sees other kids go to school.
• As other people in Mohit’s family are earning, the family condition is not too bad, there is a ray of hope that Mohit is send to school.
• If Mohit’s family is persuaded and made aware of the advantages of sending Mohit to school and offered some sort of support (financial like tuition fee , materials like uniform, books, pens), there is a strong chance that Mohit can pursue education.
• Support for Skill development – Mohit’s parents and relatives can be counseled and helped to improve their skills so that they can perform better at their jobs.

Case 2 – Irfan – aged 15 – works in a meat shop.
We met Irfan also at Kapoorthala, Lucknow. He works in a meat shop. When he took a break from work, we approached him and enquired about his details which are as given below:

• Hails from Bahraich (UP). Bahraich has an average literacy rate of 59%, lower than the national average of 59.5%; with 57% of the males and 43% of females literate. 2
• 15 Years Old.
• Lives and works in the meat shop. Earns Rs. 2000/month.
• He can read Hindi, can do arithmetic.
• Eldest son in the family. Family is in extreme poverty.
• He has a younger brother & sister.
• Father is farmer but cannot earn much to meet both ends - So Irfan has to work.
• Studied till 2nd standard - Doesn't want to go to school anymore (has to support his family).
• He admits that a lot of children from Bahraich region are doing similar jobs in Lucknow.
Our Views
• Irfan is constrained in this situation – family survival takes priority over his education.
• No other source of income as father's agricultural income is not sufficient.
• Irfan's income of Rs.2000/month is important for supporting his younger brother and sister.
• He is a smart boy and can communicate well.
• In this case, financial aid takes priority over awareness.
• As places like Bahraich are remote rural areas and have a dense cloud cover of poverty, Government schemes (like NREGA) are difficult to have an impact on the lives of people.
• In these cases, the local NGOs and social workers can act in the best interests to track down such families and help them in a systematic way.
• The modus operandi for this can be – NGOs can provide a reliable database of the families and address the specific needs of the families like skill set development of members of the family, ensuring studies of children at least till matriculation.

Case 3 – Munna – aged 7 – works in tyre shop.
The third is relatively of primary concern as his age is 7 years, which is a crucial time for early development of the child.

• Munna works in a tyre shop.
Our Views
• This is a case were need is not the driving factor for the situation of this child.
• Here the awareness takes precedence over need. Munna’s family perhaps is not aware fully of how primary education of the child can benefit the family in future. Moreover, he is not a skilled worker. Considering his age, the amount generated by him is not significant enough to affect his family. Here, a concentrated effort through a local social program is required for the family to be persuaded to bring the child in the right direction.