Child Labor in India: The Cobblestone Beater from Rajasthan

In 2010 Indian companies provided German companies with about 30000 tons of cobblestone. The cobbles get mainly topped in the quarries of Rajasthan, which is located in the North of India.  In this field of operation work about 13 million children in the age of 5 – 14 years.

The working conditions of the kids, where they have to work up to 14 hours a day, are disastrous: The stone gets machined by a huge hammer by the children, without them wearing protection gloves. Additionally, the kids are not wearing any breathing protection, and as a result they inhale the dirty blew up dust. During this exhausting physical work they are exposed to the extremely hot sun. In case the amount of the beaten cobbles is enough, exporters arrive, load the cobblestone on their trucks and give the exhausted children their wages: less than two Cents per cobblestone.

Despite the prohibition of child labor by the Indian government and several initiatives, the problem of child employment in this sector cannot be revealed sufficiently. One of those initiatives is Xertifix, a German certifying company, which tries to track the terms of delivery back to the quarries. Furthermore this institution controls unannounced local quarries on the behalf of German stone dealer.

However improvement is necessary with regard to several aspects:

  • In India exists the problem of high bribery, which results e.g. in the situation that the aid payments do not reach the family in need.
  •  Desperate poverty forces children to work in the quarries.
  •  Controls in some quarries are sloppy

Nevertheless, foreign stone dealer assess the demand for cobble stones, which create a never ending demand of underpaid work forces due to their aggressive pricing policy. The more companies are involved in the supply chain, the less the individual actor takes over responsibility. Moreover, the price-conscious individual person does not pay attention to official seals like Xertifix, while some companies explain; they have to work profit orientated.

In the end there is just the hope that makes us think that maybe one day, there will be a change of thinking with regard to low price products connected to child labor.

Sources:

http://www.aktiv-gegen-kinderarbeit.de/2012/03/indien-die-pflastersteinklopfer-aus-rajasthan/

http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/0,1518,823128,00.html

http://www.childinfo.org/labour.html

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4 thoughts on “Child Labor in India: The Cobblestone Beater from Rajasthan

  1. An estimated 158 million children aged 5-14 are engaged in child labour, one in six children in the world. Millions of children are engaged in hazardous situations or conditions, such as working in mines, working with chemicals and pesticides in agriculture or working with dangerous machinery. They are everywhere but invisible, toiling as domestic servants in homes, labouring behind the walls of workshops, hidden from view in plantations.

    It is a form of slavery that shows how horrible man can still be.

    Reply
  2. It is really distressing that although in times of a nearly global common economy and coalescenting markets based on amazing transportation possibilities, incredible communications potential and common organizations, such horrible circumstances are still existing or particularly even condoned, just because people are setting their own economical benefits above the absolute basic human rights of other people. This behavior is already bad enough, but that this is even about the lives of children add even more insult to the injury. This two tier thinking has to be basically changed especially in the minds of the people of the developed countries. If there would be a cobblestone company in one of these developed countries where the residentiary children would have to produce the cobblestones under the same conditions, this would be an incredible scandal and nobody would buy the products. But when the same takes places hundreds of kilometers ago this seems to be at least ignorable, just conforming to the “Nimby” (Not in my back yard) effect. This effect stands for an ethical and political attitude, to not accept unpleasant things in the own environment. If this effect as well as the selfishness of many people will still be accepted and fixed in the minds of many people, there can be hundreds of organizations which try to improve these circumstances, but as long as the majority just cares for themselves and does not realize that all people also have a mutual and common responsibility for each other, this circumstances will never change or even get worse.

    Reply
  3. It is very frigthening how that there are still those high number of children working in the world. I think the companies who actually have the force should stop importing raw material or products from companies where children are working. I am sure there are still enough companies that buy products although they know that children produced them. It is important that we as customers, we also have high power, do something against this. If we easilly do not buy products from which we know or can imagine that they are made by children, we oculd change the situation immediatley. No child should be working no matter whether under good conditions or earning a lot. I totally agree what Anja says, things that happen far away easilly be ignored. We have to open our eyes and our minds to see what is really going on in the world.

    Reply

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