The census for 2011 revelled that over 80 percent of children below 14 years of age are involved in child labour are situated in the rural part of the country. The child labour market of India is Firozabad most of them working in the Bangle industry. The beautiful end product of these bangle factories is nothing but peoples and children working in the conditions in which they are miserable and far from safe. Thus, they often suffer from respiratory problems, loss of vision, silicosis and other diseases.
In this article, the condition of labours and child works in Firozabad’s bangle industries have been discussed. Their working condition and the reason why people look for work in these bangle factories have been stated. Several NGOs have stepped up to the rescue of the child labours also. The article also mentions certain remedies and suggestions which can be helpful.
Located in the western interiors of the state of Uttar Pradesh, there is a quaint little town called Firozabad, which also goes by the name of ‘Suhag Nagri’. The famous Sadar Bazar of Firozabad known for the clinking colorful bangles, but if we look closer you will see the horrific visual of little dwellers whose cries are hushed. The infamous ‘Child Labour Market’ where the slave trade still exists, and in this case, these slaves are little children. The glass and bangle industry of Firozabad is very big, and they give employment to over 500,000 men, women and children. Out of these, a large no of workers is children. The treatment labours get in these bangle factories are abysmal. There are not treated as humans but machines. These small-scale units exploit their labours by making them work for long hours and depriving off their rights. They don’t adhere to the basic work environment rules and conditions and make these labourers work in is hazardous. Next time when you pick that mesmerizing glittering piece of glass, remember the effort gone into making it by some person sweating it out in an industry and value it for more than its beauty. The conditions of the labours in these factories are just 3 words- Unjust, Unfair & Unlawful.
Life of Bangle Makers
The life of bangle makers of Firozabad is miserable and filled with hindrances, which enforced them to steer a life full of poverty and scarcity. They work in the glass furnaces in extremely high temperatures and there are small cells where there is no light or air covered with dust. People work for long hours all day crouched next to the burner and flickering oil lamps welding the colorful pieces of glass to make bangles. Children working in these factories often end up losing their eyesight before they become adults as they have to work in the dark all the time. All the work they do from welding to soldering pieces of glass is done without proper protections and they lead to health hazards. The dust that comes from polishing the glass of bangles badly affects the eyes and the lungs which lead to losing eyesight and respiratory disorders. The working hours are too long they have to work according to the factory hours come times in double shifts also. The health of the workers is the least concern for their employers. Due to the type of job and surrounding conditions all evidence risk to the health and well being of the workers. If we talk about wages, 70% of the workers don’t even get minimum wages.
Most of the workers employed are children in these factory units. According to the United Nations Convention on Child Rights, when a child is born, he/she is titled to the fundamental rights of existence, development, protection and education. But when you get to know about the condition of children workers in Firozabad these ‘rights’ have been reduced to a farce. Because of poverty there mental and physical development has also adversely affected. As they are children, most of them are unaware of their rights and thus end up being exploited. Child labour remains a serious problem both in Firozabad and Agra districts even though the government has established several legal instruments to address the problem of child labour. Several laws and Acts related to the subject of child labour has been made in our country like The Factories Act of 1948, The Mines Act of 1952, The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986, The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2000, but they have failed to be effective properly and have been ignored completely. Defying these laws, the Firozabad’s glass and bangle industry has become a hub of child labour and still continues to exploit hundreds of children. Children are working in highly polluted, dangerous, and unhealthy working environments, which in many instances is the primary source of a variety of serious health problems. The question arises is why these children opt for these bangle factory jobs?
Reasons Behind Child Labour & Exploitation
Child labourers face several problems that force them to be in this situation and they never come out of them. The following are some of the reasons:
- Children work because of poverty and to support and survival their families, so it is not an option but a necessity as many of their families are facing chronic hunger situations as food enforcement are is affordable for them.
- Comparatively, children are often easy to be employed and exploited as they are not educated and are unaware of their rights. They are cheaper to hire and are less expected to demand higher wages and better working conditions.
- Child labour does not have the opportunity to go to school and get educated. Education entitlements are not accessible for them, the drop-out rate, especially of girls is very high. Thus, they grow up without qualification trapped in low wage jobs and in turn look to their own children to supplement the family’s income. Thus, continuing this whole cycle again.
- Infrastructure and facilities run and supported by the government are not properly placed and they do not address the concerns of child labour families. Services like education, health, water and sanitation do not reach the eligible and needy families in the villages as a lot of families are migrants and don’t have identity cards also.
These above-mentioned reasons and deprivation situations compel the children to work for their survival and lead a pitiful life full of exploitation at every stage of life.
Breaking the Cycle of Child Labour in Firozabad
The fight against child labour is going on and we can show our support and help them. Many NGOs are working around the clock to reach as many children as the can and help them out. Initiatives like ChildFund are helping children in Firozabad is making inroads. Community factories are no longer employing children. However, a lot of children are still engaged in home-based bangle work. ChildFund India also helped in giving entrepreneurship skills to youngsters to help them with alternative livelihoods. Through ChildFund India you join this fight and can sponsor a child for that chick here . NGOs like CRY also have been working day in and day out to educate people about this issue. To rescue children stuck in this situation, the Child Line is made and is always alert. The police force is there to register cases. The voices of these children are not unheard anymore. More and more people are showing support to these NGOs. You can also pledge your support to stop child labour here. Disha is another of the NGO’s major initiatives, under which children are provided with health, educational and livelihood support.
Conclusion & Suggestions
The above article clearly reveals that the issue of child labour and labour conditions of the bangle industry is very poor. The problem of child labour has become a national menace. The Exploitation of labourers has become common these days. The working condition is below all standards. To remove all these problems, it is felt essential to give immediate attention and address the three key magnitudes responsible for child labour which are-
1. Covetous nature of employer in terms of earning money
2. Poverty and illiteracy of child labour and their family
3. Unproductive government machinery responsible for child labour eradication
Here are some of the remedial measures can be of great help to save children and other labours from their exploitation:
1. The government regulations should regulate and impose its law strictly like-
- The Minimum wages Act must be implemented strictly so that their standard of living can be increased.
- Certain amendments can be made in The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 as it suffers from a lot of loopholes.
- There should be a separate policy/ committee to monitor the activities of the bangle industry, and the work environment should be monitored regularly.
2. The Consumer should boycott the service of child labour.
3. Enhance the penal provision if there is a violation of any of the laws.
4. The Factory Act should be implemented properly, and due care should be given to monitoring the working hours which will help the labours to maintain themselves in a healthy way.
- What are the working conditions in Firozabad’s bangle factory?
- Why they hire Child Labourers?
- What are the reasons behind child labour?
- What are the laws passed by the government to support these children?
- How can we help?
- Demonstration and development of a dissemination package for pot furnace and muffle furnace in glass industry at Firozabad—energy sector Phase 4 – Glass TA2.
- Basu, K. (1999),’Child Labor: Causes, consequence, and cure, with remarks on International Labour Standards’, Journal of Economic Literature, 37, 1083-1119.
- Basu, K and Van, P.H. (1998), ‘The Economics of Child Labour’, American Economic Review, 88(3), 412- 27.
- Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986.
- C R Kothari.1997. Research Methodology-Methods & Techniques. Wishwa Prakashan