Moneycontrol

Budget 2021

Associate Partners:

  • SMC
  • Samsung
  • Volvo

Moneycontrol

Budget 2021

Associate Partners:

  • SMCSamsungVolvo
Webinar :Join an expert panel for a webinar on Smart investments for a secure retirement January 28, 2021. Register now!
you are here: HomeNewsIndia

More children forced to work as coronavirus batters India

More than 10 million Indian children between five and 14 toil in farms and factories, or clean restaurant tables and shine shoes, a situation exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

October 07, 2020 / 06:09 PM IST

His hands caked with paint and dust, Aakash looks right at home working at an auto repair shop -- except that he is a minor, one of millions forced into the Indian labour market.

More than 10 million Indian children between five and 14 toil in farms and factories, or clean restaurant tables and shine shoes, a situation exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

AFP this week accompanied Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), a children's rights group whose founder won the Nobel Peace Prize, as it conducted raids together with police in New Delhi.

Early Tuesday, Syed Arshad Mehdi, a 20-year BBA veteran, walked into the auto shop and gently led Aakash (not his real name) out into the morning light.

Aakash at first denied he worked at the garage, but Mehdi turned the teenager's hands around in his own, saying softly: "Look at your hands, they are full of paint and dust."

Close

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

View more
How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

View more
Show

He and 11 other boys, all believed to be aged below 18 and made to work 16-hour days for a pittance, were picked up in restaurants and a garage that night.

They were taken to the district magistrate's office, where handwritten pieces of paper numbering from one to 12 were stapled on their T-shirts as face masks hid their expressions.

Follow our LIVE blog for the latest updates of the novel coronavirus pandemic

Each boy was called up to a desk, where they were asked their name, age, the village and state where they had come from, how many hours they worked and what they were paid.

After health checks, a coronavirus test and help to reclaim their full wages, they will be sent back to their family homes -- often poor villages and towns across northern India.

Employers can be charged with child labour, bonded labour and trafficking, but successful prosecutions are rare.

Under the law, children under 14 are prohibited from working in most situations, while those between 14 and 18 are barred from being employed in hazardous occupations -- which includes some restaurant work.

BBA has rescued 1,200 children since April, but more and more are being sent to work because of the epidemic, the organisation's Dhananjay Tingal told AFP.

The months-long coronavirus lockdown has devastated Asia's third-largest economy and millions of Indians have lost their livelihoods.

As a result, more poor children were being pushed to take up jobs to help support their families.

Children were also seen by employers as willing to work extremely long hours for even lower pay than adults, making them open to exploitation and abuse, Tingal said.

"The conditions in the villages... are very bad," Tingal said.

"Families now need maximum hands at work to earn money. If we don't take corrective action right now, this will only worsen."

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.
AFP
first published: Oct 7, 2020 06:06 pm

stay updated

Get Daily News on your Browser
Sections