Can’t be overlooked: child labour

Even before we reached the mining area out of Kota in Rajasthan, we saw two boys, maybe ten and twelve years old, handling sand with a shovel and bowl. They did road work – not for some exploitative business man, but under a government scheme, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. This scheme guarantees rural people unskilled manual work for one hundred days every year for which they get Rs. 120 per day. But until I saw these kids I thought the scheme only applied to adults.

Not only did they – migrants from another part of Rajasthan who lived in tarpaulin tents in the midst of this dry and barren land – work for a central government road and no one cared. Also there apparently wasn’t any inspector to check on all the kids that worked the stones in the mindes and on the rubble, sitting just meters away from the highway, their hands holding chisel and hammer instead of pen and paper.

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