Annotated Working Bibliography about Child Labour

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Barman, Subhash. “Socio-Economic and Demographic Impact on Child Labour in India.” Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences, vol. 3, no. 2, Aug. 2011, pp. 376–403. EBSCOhost,

Subhash Barman’s article “Socio-Economic and Demographic Impact on Child Labour in India,” explores and analyzes studies done by the National Family Health Survey on the participation rate of working children in India. Barman’s article is mainly informative and serves to provide context and specific statistics on child labor and the government’s actions against it. The tone I detected was generally informative; however, it is clear the author is against the uses of child labor and tradition, which is why he lays out all of the negative effects it has had on society, simultaneous prompting some major changes. This is a good source for statistics which I could use to support claims against child labor and its effects on society.

In her article, “Regional Returns to Education, Child Labour and Schooling in India,” Rubiana Chamarbagwala claims that primary education increases the probability that children attend school and decreases the probability that they end up as child workers. She also claims that if child labor is decreased, the income distribution will be more balanced and poorer households will benefit economically because of an increase in education. Her tone is very strong and argumentative, which is why this source is a good point of view to explore and use to represent one side of the argument since she is very biased.

The essay titled “Child Labour in India: A Health and Human Rights Perspective,” provides statistics and discusses child labor from a health and human rights perspective, which is an essential point of view for me to include in my paper. This essay also explores the contributing factors of child labor such as agriculture, and its effects on the health and well being of child workers involved also discussing poor law monitoring and regulations. The essay also informs about the campaigns against child labour. This essay has a similar tone to the others, very informative but provoking, calling for action for abolition.

In her dissertation No Time to Play: Social, Economic and Legal Dimensions of Child Labour Practices in India, Rie Debabrata presents her findings on child labourers in india, specifically the carpet industries, glass bangle factories, match stick factories, domestic labour, and child prostitution. This dissertation includes her findings based on analyses of interviews with over sixty child labourers. This is a good source for me because it includes first hand accounts of these labourers, providing information about the lives, interactions, and discourses. Debabrata’s dissertation has an informative tone as she focuses on the detailed documentation of the interviewees’ lives, and connecting those to themes of “caste exploitation, gender disparities, adult/familial impoverishment and legal loopholes.”

Rick Docksai’s article, “India’s Progress in Reducing Child Labor,” is essentially a progress report on the efforts in reducing child labor. His findings are that rural children sacrifice their education because of the overall scarcity of “high-skilled” workers. However, the rise of technology and advanced industries in India calls for more highly educated workers specializing in software design, engineering, and communications. Because of this change, school enrollment has increased in the country since these jobs provide lifestyles that are achievable with manual labor. This source provides information essential for my paper because I must include the current changes and movements being made in India’s society. Docksai’s tone was informative, and he seemed to be highlighting the advancements and progress in the reduction and abolition of child labor, so he is clearly against it.

Rie Hiraoka’s dissertation, Whither Child Labour in India? Myth of its Relation to Poverty and Economic Development, explores the debates over labour standards and international trade and claims that they are all politically driven rather than accurately analysing child labor. After studying the relationships between child labor, economic development, and the socioeconomic structures of a society, Hiraoka concludes that poverty is not the cause of child labor and an improved and developed economy will not reduce child labor. This is a very interesting point of view to include in my paper because she contradicts the common belief and finds that per capita income has no effect on child labor. Child labour will not automatically decline as the economy grows, but will be affected by a change in the economic structure, social institutions, and available opportunities instead. Her tone throughout the dissertation is argumentative as she sets up her claim and precedes to back it up with evidence using her findings from research.

Manjari Singh and Mridul Maheshwari’s journal, “Child Labor in India: From Welfarist to Economic Perspective” details the policies in action to control child labor in India. This journal focuses on indicators such as male children in rural areas, female children in rural areas, male children in urban areas, and female children in urban areas, to analyze what has a significant effect on child labor. The data they collected shows that besides welfare aspects like educational and developmental factors, economic aspects like work force participation rate, poverty factors, and family factors have a great effect on child labor. Their journal has a critical tone because they are pushing for international and national policies to control child labor. I will use this source to provide information about national involvement in this issue.

Anu Rammohan’s article, “The Trade-off between Child Labour and Schooling in India,” analyzes the National Family Health Survey data from India on “the likelihood of a school-age child working, combining work with schooling or being idle, rather than attending school full time.” They found that as opposed to girls, boys are more likely to be educated and work significantly less. This information also varied regionally since they found that children from the north states are more likely to be uneducated. Wealth and land ownership are inversely related with the probability that the child is working. This article was generally informative and was simply a layout of facts based on a study/survey. I will use this data to serve as evidence for the claim that child labor affects education rates.


According to the International Labor Organization, child labor is, “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.” The common belief is that child labor is unacceptable, inhumane, and unethical and governments, labor establishments, non-profit organizations, and other corporations should work to eliminate child labor from society, since it is also believed to be hindering the development of poor countries. However, others believe that in reality, eliminating child labor will do more harm than good.

India has the largest number of child labourers in the world. The main reason why child labor is so prevalent is because the the actual number of child labourers goes unnoticed, and the few laws that are in action to protect children from hazardous unethical labour are ineffective and not implemented correctly, which also reveals a weak and flawed government.

The opposing argument against child labor utilizes humanitarian logic and morals. The number one fact fueling this side of the argument is that child laborers are forced into harsh working conditions with extremely long durations (from 12 to 16 hours a day). These poor working conditions are reflected in injuries from unsafe machinery, health problems caused by chemical poisonings (poor air quality in the facility), and lack basic necessities such as drinking water and toilets for waste. Child workers suffer lifelong disabilities/injuries and are statistically proven to die at younger ages. However, utilizing child labor is appealing for large factories because children are less expensive to hire, and are less likely to protest against their working conditions and low salaries. These businesses in underdeveloped countries have no regulations and most take advantage of the situation to exploit the children.

The next main argument made against child labor is the hindering effects on the countries growth. Because children are getting jobs in factories with very low wages, it is a challenge for adults to find jobs because of competition with the child workers. Because they are working all day, children miss school and lack the education that would enable them to find better-paying jobs in the future, which leaves a lack of skill and specialization in the workforce, and ultimately stunts the development of the country as a whole.

The opposing side of the argument claims that eliminating child labor is detrimental to the future of society. They claim that child labor is a financial necessity for families in poverty, who lack the money necessary to buy basic essentials to survive. Families are forced to make their children work in order to make money to feed them, which is a brutal cycle many families in India are trapped in.– Another claim made against the elimination of child labor is that regulations can do more harm than good. For example, companies may eliminate child labor when pressured from western customers to do so, but the children that held those jobs will end up working in lower paying occupations, with even more dangerous working conditions, or be forced to join criminal activity or sex trade. This justifies why child labor in textile factories may be safer and better than alternatives. The main point of this side of the argument is that child labor should be acceptable if jobs are appropriate, not harmful to the child’s health or development.

This paper will be a synthesis of data, statistics, and claims made by opposing viewpoints on the subject, which I will collect from credible sources. I will find sources about the effects of child labor on the Indian society, sources detailing western influences on the regulation of child labor, and sources about trade and industry in India. I am planning on organizing my paper by contrast, alternating perspectives and sides of the argument to juxtaposition points of view.–This argument opens up thought on the controversial influence of western consumers on child labor in India. The main consumers in India trade includes the United States, who buys goods at low prices, but at the same time is pushing for the elimination of child labor because of moral violations.–I plan to connect with the audience by creating a relevant scenario where the readers will need to acknowledge and understand that the U.S. has an important role in trade with India, and must be conscious of certain choices and know the social and economic stakes involved.

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