Overview of Bonded Child Labor
The child is, in a sense, a commodity, exchanged between his or her parents and the employer. The parents or guardians, who receive the money, are often destitute and have no other way to obtain credit-children most frequently told Human Rights Watch that their parents used the loan to pay for a wedding or funeral, birth or treatment for illness; to pay off another loan; or just to put food on the table. The employers use the loan to secure indefinitely the cheapest form of labor possible. A weaver with a bonded child assistant explained to Human Rights Watch: "The loan is business security. This way the worker cannot go to another job. The loan is renewed each year and not paid off."21
The loan keeps the child from seeking other employment and is enforced with the threat of calling the loan due and, sometimes, with violence. Brijraj N., who is fifteen years old and from a lower caste, said he earns Rs. 400 (U.S.$8.33) a month in sari weaving. We asked Brijraj N. whether he could change employers and he answered: "I took the money from the employer. The employer will sell the debt to the next person. Even if there wasn't any debt, I still couldn't go. He'll say, `Why are you going?' and then he'd beat me. That's what he'll do."22 We interviewed a weaver in Kanchipuram, himself in debt to the loom owner, who worked in the owner's home assisted by a child. He explained: "Even if there is no yarn, the children have to be here in the loom-they can't go play. My assistant can't go out from the loom. Weavers can't go to another loom, or we will have to pay back the loan."23 Children's inability to leave is also enforced by the widespread belief, held by parents and government officials, as well as employers, that the loan ought to be repaid.24
In order to change employers, children typically find another employer who is willing to assume their debt. When we asked eleven-year-old S. Kancha if he could stop working as a weaver's assistant, he replied: "If I stopped working at this loom, I would have to pay the money, but if I went to another loom, my father would do the transaction. He would get money from one loom owner and give it to another."25 Subban P., who was fifteen, told us that his parents bonded him to a loom owner for Rs. 10,000 (U.S.$208) when he was eight years old. He did not like the job, he said, because he did not get enough to eat and the owner was very strict. He was able to change employers when his current employer paid the debt to the first owner. Now the boy owes his current employer the debt.26
In exchange for working twelve or more hours a day, six or seven days a week, employers pay children small sums of money, sometimes just enough for transportation or snacks. The employer/creditor dictates the rate. In the silk industry, children reported starting off making from nothing to around 100 rupees (U.S.$2.08) a month, which might eventually increase to as much as 400 or 500 rupees (U.S.$8.33 to $10.42). However, the children may not actually receive this amount as some or all may be deducted against the loan. These salaries are far below minimum wage.27
In many industries, such as the making of beedi cigarettes, the child's labor does not pay off the original loan at all but only serves as interest on the loan and as a surety for its repayment. The original amount must still be paid in full. In contrast, most children bonded in the silk industry reported that their loans were decreased through regular deductions from their salaries. However, the children, typically illiterate, have no way to monitor whether the repayment is being accurately accounted for and are dependent on their employer/creditor to report how much they still owe. "When they write Rs. 5,000 [U.S.$104] in the books and if we don't know how to read and write, we won't know it," a twenty-year-old weaver who had been bonded since age seven or eight told Human Rights Watch.28 "If they give us Rs. 100 [U.S.$2.08] but write down Rs. 200 [$4.17], how will we know if we don't read and write? They'll do it on purpose so that we'll remain bonded, and if they do it, we'll have to keep on borrowing from them."29 Salaries, which are minute to begin with, are further reduced for "mistakes" and expenses such as meals or medical care. The rate of pay off is so slow and salaries so small, families are often forced to borrow additional money in order to survive, especially if the work is seasonal. Thus, even where the loan is allegedly structured to be paid off by the child's labor, families usually never escape the debt.
Children may be bonded either as individuals or with their entire families. Even where the parent technically takes the loan, the child may be put to work to help pay it off and may inherit the debt when the parent dies. For example, Rakesh R., who was seventeen years old when his father died, told Human Rights Watch: "I owe Rs. 1,900 [U.S.$40]. When my father died three years ago, they said this was the amount he owed. We didn't read or write, but this is what they said. Rs. 1,000 [$21] was an old debt, and when my father died, they declared that this was what was left. Then we borrowed Rs. 900 [$19] more."30 Debts may also pass to a younger sibling when a child reaches adulthood or stops working. For example, Human Rights Watch interviewed children freed by NGOs and placed in residential schools whose debts were passed on to another brother or sister. In some occupations, particularly agriculture, bondage may be handed from generation to generation, with workers considered attached to the land and transferred as part of land sales or exchanges.
Without comprehensive birth registration or reliable nationwide surveys, it is impossible to make better than a rough estimate of how many children are being held in bondage in India. Human Rights Watch has found that there are credible estimates of sixty to 115 million working children in India, of whom at least fifteen million are bonded.31 The wide range in estimates is further evidence of the government's failure to conduct an adequate national survey of the problem.
The government's claim, based on its 1991 census, that there are 11.29 million child workers ages five to fourteen and only two million in hazardous occupations is impossibly low.32 First, its definition excludes many working children: as of 2000, over one hundred million children ages five to fourteen were out of school, an estimated seventy-four to ninety-eight million of whom were engaged in tasks not considered work during the 1991 census, such as rag picking; collecting fodder, fuel, and water; and domestic work.33 Second, the government's methodology in collecting data is highly problematic. In interviews with Human Rights Watch, government officials and members of the committees responsible for conducting ongoing surveys on child and bonded labor strongly criticized these surveys' methodology and their ability to collect even remotely accurate information.34 Of the few cases of bonded labor identified, the government makes no effort to keep track of how many are children, and officials at the highest levels of government deny that more than "the stray case here and there" even exists.35 Most important, perhaps, is that those figures are now almost twelve years old and completely out of date, particularly since the number of children in India increases by about twenty million each year.
In the Indian silk industry, Human Rights Watch estimates that well over 350,000 children are currently working.36 Almost all who are working for non-family members are bonded. The remainder are working for family members, most of whom are themselves bonded. Thus, even where children are not bonded alone but are working for family members, they are typically still working to pay off a debt, which, as in the example of Rakesh R., above, they may eventually inherit.
The Indian Silk Industry
Silk imports include silk yarn, silk waste, and silk fabrics, woven both by hand and on power looms. However, not all silk textiles from India are woven from domestically produced silk thread. Because India does not produce enough silk thread to meet the domestic demand, silk thread is imported from China (some smuggled illegally through Bangladesh and Nepal), which tends to be of higher quality than Indian silk.41 In an apparent attempt to deflect international consumers' concern about child labor in silk thread production, the Indian government has maintained that its silk exports are, in fact, produced entirely from Chinese silk.42 However, many looms that use Chinese silk thread for the warp thread (those held in tension on the loom), still use Indian silk yarn for the weft thread (those woven through the warp threads).43 Most handwoven silk fabric is made from Indian silk, which Indian consumers tend to prefer.44 But regardless of where the thread is produced, bonded child labor produces exported silk textiles, as bonded children help weave handloom fabrics, which are regularly imported into the United States, among other places.45 Moreover, clothing manufactured outside of India from Indian silk is not necessarily labeled as being from India, but rather as from the place where the clothing was manufactured.46
How Silk is Produced
Almost all commercial silk comes from the cocoons of mulberry eating silk worms (bombyx mori).49 Rearers hatch the worms from eggs purchased from government or government-licensed private grainages. Rearers must maintain proper temperature, humidity, and hygiene; feed the worms mulberry leaves five to six times a day; and provide special treatment during the worms' molting periods. When the larvae are mature, they are mounted on montages where they spin cocoons that must be harvested and marketed after the pupa forms but before the adult moth emerges. Cocoons are sold by auction in government-regulated cocoon markets.
In India, most silkworms are multivoltine, meaning that they hatch many times a year. Uni- and bivoltine silkworms, common to China, hibernate and have only one or two lifecycles a year. Multivoltine silkworms spin yellowish cocoons with shorter filaments; these are considered lower quality than the whiter, longer filaments of uni- and bivoltine cocoons.
Dried cocoons are turned into yarn through a process called "reeling." There are 30,000 to 40,000 working reeling units in India, plus a large number of units that are closed or working occasionally.50 After being reeled, the individual threads are twisted into multi-ply silk thread. The multi-ply thread is then dyed and transported to sari weaving areas.
To produce a handwoven silk sari, the warp thread is dressed, sized, and joined to the loom.51 Then the design, which is punched into a set of cards, is set up on the loom and the gold threads (zari) joined to the loom. The weaver and his or her assistant weave the sari, three at a time, with the weft thread. The finished saris are then cut from the loom and folded.
Government and International Support for the Indian Silk Industry
However, neither has had large success in India. Bivoltine silk worms, while used in some areas, are still in the process of being bred to withstand India's climate. Multi-end reeling units require significantly more space and electric power than current reeling methods. There are 30,000 to 40,000 working reeling units in the country, but only 230 multi-end reeling units, which the Central Silk Board is financing-130 in Karnataka and the rest in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.54 Multi-end reeling systems are still far from supplanting child labor intensive reeling methods in the silk industry.
The Indian government heavily controls and subsidizes its silk industry through the Central Silk Board, a statutory body under the Ministry of Textiles.55 The Board researches and regulates silk production and the cocoon trade; it also provides technical assistance for the industry and controls all silk imports and exports. State governments regulate sericulture through their sericulture departments, which licenses cocoon buyers and sellers and silk reeling operations; silk twisting operations must register but do not need a license. Both the Central Silk Board and state sericulture departments also train farmers.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the World Bank heavily financed silk reeling and twisting in India, primarily in Karnataka. Human Rights Watch found in 1996 that the World Bank was loaning millions of dollars to support sericulture in Karnataka without monitoring or placing any restrictions on the use of bonded child labor. It was, in effect, financing an industry thoroughly dependent on bonded child labor.56 The World Bank has subsequently paid greater attention to child labor, although Bank staff told Human Rights Watch in 2002 that child labor issues are on the "backburner" in India. In 1997 the Bank's South Asia Region appointed a regional coordinator for child labor and promised to coordinate with UNICEF, the ILO, and various NGOs. In 1998 the Bank's Social Protection, Human Development Network published the document Child Labor: Issues and Directions for the World Bank, which suggested measures to address child labor.57 While this document is not formal World Bank policy, the Bank in 2000 stated: "The Bank's work on child labor includes: . . . requiring compliance with applicable child labor laws and regulations in specific projects where exploitative child labor is otherwise likely to occur."58 The Bank's South Asia Regional Child Labor Team said in January 2000 that the Procurement, Disbursement, and Audit Team in India had included provisions of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, "as part of contract conditions to be enforced."59 However, the team explained, "the Bank does not have mechanism [sic] to ensure that the above provision is indeed followed in practice."60
The World Bank's sericulture project in Karnataka ended in 1998, and the Bank embarked on a small project (part of the U.S.$160.5 million Uttar Pradesh Diversified Agricultural Support Project) to develop sericulture in Uttar Pradesh, including in what subsequently became the new state of Uttaranchal. The project intended to introduce and develop the raising of bivoltine silk worms and multi-end reeling systems.61 The Bank also outlined guidelines to prevent child labor from being used in reeling and twisting there, based on a study of the Karnataka project. However, these guidelines were never implemented. At the beginning of 2002, the Bank dropped the sericulture component except in three districts in Uttaranchal because, according to project officials, the mulberry plants needed to feed the worms had not survived.62
The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), in a 12.5 million Swiss Francs (U.S.$8.3 million) project to run through 2004, is funding private and public sector projects to develop sericulture in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal.63 The SDC is organized and funded by the Swiss government through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Based on the SDC's own studies reporting a "high prevalence" of child workers in various "post-cocoon" activities in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh, the organization funded two-year pilot projects for NGOs in three towns to provide non-formal education, awareness raising, and adult self-help groups.64 However, local activists working with children bonded in the silk industry say that there has been no further action.65
Areas Covered by this Report
An estimated 60,000 to 100,000 children work in Karnataka's silk industry.69 Virtually all children working for non-family members in Karnataka's silk reeling and twisting units are bonded;70 the great majority are under age fourteen.71 According to the Karnataka state government, statewide, most children working in sericulture processing are Dalits.72 In two areas Human Rights Watch visited, Ramanagaram and Channapatna, most silk reelers were Muslim; in a third, Magadi, most were Dalits and lower castes.
In Uttar Pradesh, considerable international attention and domestic efforts have been placed on the carpet industry. For example, since 1998, NHRC Special Rapporteur Chaman Lal has focused on the carpet belt in Uttar Pradesh.78 It is widely agreed that while bonded child labor in carpets has not been eliminated, vigilance from the NHRC and pressure from domestic and international activists has provoked the government to better enforce the child and bonded labor laws and to provide schools and other social services. Much less attention has been paid to silk weaving. According to Dr. Alakh N. Sharma, who conducted a survey of labor in the Varanasi silk industry in November 2000, "I'm not suggesting that everything is perfect in carpets, but at least something has worked. Here [in silk] there has not been any interest."79
Sensitivity to communal tensions and periodic communal violence between Hindus and Muslims has complicated law enforcement in the Varanasi area. About 80 percent of sari weaving households in the Varanasi area are Muslim, about 15 percent are "backward caste" Hindus, and about 6 percent are Dalits.80 While Muslims have traditionally engaged in sari weaving, backward castes and Dalits have recently entered the profession, both as weavers and as traders.81 According to Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi, a member of Varanasi's bonded labor vigilance committee and an NGO director, "Silk has a communal color in this city."82
Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act (1976), sec. 2(g).
21 Human Rights Watch interview with adult weaver, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, March 20, 2002. A Varanasi trader, who said that his weavers do not use children, described the relationship somewhat differently: "We pay an advance, and if they want to give their work to us, they do. We don't force them. We pay for the design, provide the materials, and show them what we want." Human Rights Watch interview with silk trader, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, March 13, 2002.
24 A social worker who had just come from a parents' group meeting that had discussed the "advance problem" told Human Rights Watch that many parents say: "[The owners] helped us when we needed it by giving us the advance, so we can't abandon them." Human Rights Watch interview with social worker, Bangalore Rural District, Karnataka, March 29, 2002. We asked the project director for Kanchipuram's night schools for working children whether, if a worker dies, his family must pay the debt, and he replied, "Yes, it's a loan, not a grant." Human Rights Watch interview with night schools project director, Kanchipuram District, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, March 19, 2002.
27 Under Indian law, nominal wages are those that are less than minimum wages, or, where no minimum wage has been set, less than wages normally paid for the same or similar work in the same locality. Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act (1976), sec. 2(1)(I)(a), (b). See also People's Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India, 3 SCC 235 (1982), paras. 259-260, in which the Supreme Court ruled that "where a person provides labour or service to another for remuneration which is less than minimum wage, the labour or service provided by him clearly falls within the scope and ambit of the word `forced labour' . . . ." The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act forbids all forms of forced labor. As of 1998, the minimum wage in Karnataka was Rs. 60 for sericulture and Rs. 65 for "textile (silk)"; minimum wage in Tamil Nadu was Rs. 55.08 for sericulture and silk twisting, and "piece rated" for handloom silk weaving; and minimum wage in Uttar Pradesh was Rs. 51.60 for handloom silk sari or zari work. Labour Bureau, Government of India, Report on the Working of Minimum Wages Act, 1948 For Year 1998, http://www.chd.nic.in/labour/MW98text.htm#tab6 (retrieved August 26, 2002).
31 The estimate of fifteen million was conservative, based on Anti-Slavery International's 1991 report that fifteen million children were bonded in agriculture alone. Since 1996 when Human Rights Watch first arrived at this estimate, there have been no new numbers that clearly are based on new or reliable data. Human Rights Watch, The Small Hands of Slavery, pp. 1, 2, note 3. See also, National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration, India Education Report: A Profile of Basic Education, R. Govinda, ed. (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 55 (citing various estimates of child labor); South Asia Regional Initiative, USAID India, "Combating Child Labor in India," http://www/usaid.gov/in/aboutusaid/projects/childlabor.htm (retrieved July 31, 2002) (estimating that 100-150 million children ages five to fourteen are out of school and more than forty-four million are employed in hazardous and non-hazardous industries that endanger their physical and psychological well-being, a "significant percentage" of whom are bonded laborers). Altogether an estimated forty million people are bonded laborers. See Human Rights Watch, Broken People, p. 139. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that as of 2000 there were 5.5 million children in forced and bonded labor in all of Asia and the Pacific. ILO, A Future Without Child Labour, International Labour Conference, 90th sess., 2002, p. 18; International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), Every Child Counts: New Global Estimates on Child Labour, April 2002. According to Human Rights Watch's investigations in India alone, this figure far underestimates the problem.
32 See, e.g., Ministry of Labour, Government of India, Annual Report 2001-2002, p. 107 (citing results of 1991 census); Human Rights Watch interview with Vinod Vaish, Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Government of India, New Delhi, April 2, 2002; Human Rights Watch interview with K. Chandramouli, Joint Secretary for Child Labour, Ministry of Labour, Government of India, New Delhi, April 2, 2002.
33 Lakshmidhar Mishra, Child Labour in India, (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 6, 18, 25 (citing D.P. Choudhury, "Child Labour in India in the Asian Perspective, 1951-1996," Social Changes, vol. 2, nos. 3 and 4, September and December 1997, pp. 9-33). In contrast, Mahaveer Jain, Senior Fellow of the V.V. Giri National Labour Institute, estimates that there are 151 million children out of school. Jain calculated this number by adding the 11.3 million working children identified by the 1991 census with 80 million children whose activities are unknown and the 60 million who drop out of school. Human Rights Watch interview with Mahaveer Jain, Senior Fellow, V.V. Giri National Labour Institute, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, April 1, 2002.
34 Human Rights Watch interview with Rajeev Kumar Singh, district child labor committee member and director of Dr. Shambunath Singh Research Foundation, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, March 13, 2002; Human Rights Watch interview with Lenin Raghuvanshi, People's Vigilance Committee for Human Rights, Varanasi, March 12, 2002; Human Rights Watch interview with Tamil Nadu government official, Tamil Nadu, March 18, 2002; Human Rights Watch interview with former Tamil Nadu labor inspector, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, March 24, 2002.
36 This number is very conservative, based only on estimates of children under age fourteen working in the silk industry in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh (based on a survey which counted only boys); Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu; and the state of Karnataka. See section below, "Areas Covered by this Report."
37 Central Silk Board, Silk, http://www.silkboard.com/silk.html (retrieved November 8, 2001); Central Silk Board, World Raw Silk Production-1999, http://www.silkboard.com/annual_production.html (retrieved November 8, 2001) (citing the International Silk Association, France).
/dyechemjan2002_spreport02.asp (retrieved February 23, 2002) (quoting P. Joy Oomen, Member Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Indian government's Central Silk Board). The Indian government reports that total silk exports, including natural silk yarn, fabrics, "made-ups," readymade garments, silk carpets, and silk waste, were worth Rs. 24.21 billion in 2000-2001. Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, Annual Report 2001-2002, p. 67.
39 See "Good Prospects for Silk Exports: EXIM Bank (industrialisation and reduced land for sericulture in Korea and China to boost Indian silk exports)," Indian Business Insight, March 29, 2002, p. 16; "India's Silk Exports Dip 7 Pct in 2001-02, China Giving Competition," Asia Pulse, June 26, 2002; U.S. Bureau of the Census: Foreign Trade Division, Imports of Silk from India, 1998-2001 (on file with Human Rights Watch). The U.S. is also the largest single importer of zari (silver and gold threads) and zari handicrafts, including zari embroidered saris for which Varanasi is famous. Countrywise Exports of Zari and Zari Handicrafts (1998-99), cited in Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts website, http://indianzari.nic.in/vsindianzari/indzarif.html (retrieved August 23, 2002).
42 The head of India's Central Silk Board told Human Rights Watch that most silk exports were made of Chinese silk. Human Rights Watch interview with P. Joy Oommen, Member Secretary and Chief Executive Officer, Central Silk Board, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, Bangalore, March 28, 2002. The Indian government told reporters in 2002 that exported silk is "free of child labor." Dateline NBC, Slaves to Fashion [transcript], aired June 23, 2002, www.msnbc.com/news/770083.asp (retrieved June 28, 2002).
45 Customs records from 1997 to 2002 show the regular import of silk handloom fabric into the United States. From 1997 to the beginning of 2002, 23,918 pounds of silk fabric specifically designated as handwoven was imported into the U.S. Presumably this far underestimates the actual amount of "handwoven" silk fabric imported, as most silk imports are simply designated as "natural silk fabric" or "silk fabrics" without specifying how they were woven. Port Import Export Reporting Service (PIERS), records of Indian silk imports 1997-2002 (on file with Human Rights Watch).
46 For example, a co-owner of the company Silk Route, which claims to sell fabric to designers such as Nicole Miller, told reporters in 2001-2002 that "we ship to Italy and from Italy it goes to Nicole Miller, so she doesn't even know it's made in India. Most of the stuff that goes from our office, they don't know it's made in India. They change the label, say, `Made in Italy,' you know. So that way it sells at a much higher rate." Dateline NBC, Slaves to Fashion [transcript], aired June 23, 2002, www.msnbc.com/news/770083.asp (retrieved June 28, 2002).
47 Antero Hyvärinen, "Silk: A Tradition with a Future," International Trade Forum, March 1, 1999, p. 4. Compare Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, Annual Report 2001-2002, p. 67 (5.5 million people); Planning Commission, Government of India, 9th Five Year Plan, vol. 1, ch. 4, para. 4.61 (6.2 million people).
48 There is also limited silkworm rearing in the states of Assam and West Bengal. See Movement for Alternatives and Youth Awareness (MAYA), Which Silk Route This? A situational analysis of child labor in the sericulture industry in Karnataka, India, 2000, p. 7.
49 Information in the section is drawn in part from G. Ganga and J. Sulochana Chetty, An Introduction to Sericulture, 2d ed. (New Delhi: Oxford and IBH Publishing Co., 1997); and Central Silk Board, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, Handbook of Sericulture Technologies, 2d ed. (Bangalore: Central Silk Board, 2001).
51 Information on how silk saris are produced is drawn from: Babu P. Remesh, Organisational Structure, Labour Relations and Employment in Kancheepuram Silk Weaving, NLI (National Labour Institute) Research Studies Series No. 021/2001, 2001, pp. 7-9.
52 In addition to the international funders described below, the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) has, since 1991, provided funding and assistance for promoting bivoltine silk and "other advanced technologies" to farmers. "Government Embarks on Scheme to Boost Silk Production," The Hindu, March 29, 2002.
55 Information regarding state regulation is taken in part from G. Ganga and J. Sulochana Chetty, An Introduction to Sericulture; Human Rights Watch interview with P. Joy Oommen, Member Secretary and Chief Executive Officer, Central Silk Board, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, Bangalore, March 28, 2002; and Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, Annual Report 2001-2002.
57 Peter Fallon and Zafiris Tzannatos, Child Labour: Issues and Directions for the World Bank, Social Protection, Human Development Network, The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank, 1998.
58 The World Bank, Core Labor Standards and the World Bank, July 2000. The World Bank also stated that, "the Bank has repeatedly made it clear that it has not and would not support projects in which forced labor was or would be employed." Ibid.
61 Rural Development Sector Unit, South Asia Region, World Bank, Project Appraisal Document: Uttar Pradesh Diversified Agricultural Support Project, No. 17279-N, April 27, 1998; Project Information Document: Uttar Pradesh Diversified Agricultural Support Project, No. PIC1797, September 5, 1997.
62 Human Rights Watch interview with Deepak Ahluwalia, Senior Economist, World Bank; S. Satish, Senior Social Development Specialist, World Bank; and R.K. Pant, Technical Coordinator, Uttaranchal Diversified Agricultural Support Project, New Delhi, March 9, 2002.
64 See G.K. Karanth and V. Vijayalakshmi, Institute for Social and Economic Change, "Executive Summary and Action Plan," Sericulture Studies, Child Labour in Silk Industry: Myth and Reality, sponsored by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Bangalore, June 1998, p. 3.
66 For example, an estimated 5,000 children are involved in silk reeling in Tamil Nadu, mainly in Dharmapuri district. Human Rights Watch interview with Tamil Nadu government official, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, March 24, 2002. A 2000 study of Hindupur and Dharmavaram subdistricts, Anathapur District, Andhra Pradesh, found violations related to child labor in sericulture similar to those documented in this report. Narayan K.S. and P. Pushpa Rani, "Silk Industry and Child Workers," Social Welfare, November 2000, p. 12.
67 See MAYA, Which Silk Route This?, p. 12; S.A. Hemanth Kumar, "Silk Marketing to Go Online," The Times of India, Bangalore, March 29, 2002, p. 10. The Chief Executive Officer of India's Central Silk Board, P. Joy Oommen, confirmed this figure. Human Rights Watch interview with P. Joy Oommen, Member Secretary and Chief Executive Officer, Central Silk Board, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, Bangalore, March 28, 2002.
68 According to the NGO Movement for Alternatives and Youth Awareness (MAYA), the main silk regions are the four taluks (sub-districts) of Channapatna, Ramanagaram, Kanakapura, and Magadi in Bangalore Rural District and Kollegal taluka in Mysore district. MAYA, Which Silk Route This?, p. 12. Compare Department of Labour, Government of Karnataka, Study Material on "Successful prosecution of Child Labour Cases" For The Inspectors appointed under Section 17 of the Child Labour (P & R) Act, 1986, November 21, 2001, p. 13 (reporting that the state's main areas for silk processing are: Ramanagaram, Channapattana, Magadi, Dodda-ballapur, Devanahalli, and Kanakapura taluks of Bangalore Rural District; Anekal taluk of Bangalore Urban District; Siddalaghatta taluk of Kolar District, and Kollegal taluk of Chamarajanagar District).
69 Because there has been no systematic study of child labor in Karnataka's silk industry, this figure is extrapolated from a detailed study of one taluk (subdivision of a district) near Bangalore that found 10,000 bonded child silk workers in that taluk alone. Human Rights Watch, The Small Hands of Slavery, p. 76. Mathews Philip, of South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), estimated in 2002 that there were 60,000 children working the region. Dateline NBC, Slaves to Fashion [transcript], aired June 23, 2002, www.msnbc.com/news/770083.asp (retrieved June 28, 2002). Compare Department of Labour, Government of Karnataka, Study Material on "Successful prosecution of Child Labour Cases," p. 13 (estimating that 2,500 to 3,000 children are working in sericulture processing).
70 B.N. Juyal and M.K. Jha, "Karnataka Case-Executive Summary," Child Labour Involvement in Sericulture, para. 4.2 (stating that child bondage is "almost universal in the industry"); and Human Rights Watch interview with NGO staff, Bangalore, March 25, 2002. See also Human Rights Watch, The Small Hands of Slavery, p. 76.
71 Human Rights Watch interview with staff of the deputy commissioner, Bangalore Rural District, Karnataka, March 26, 2002 (stating that "70 to 80 percent" of those working in sericulture are under age fourteen).
75 A November 2000 survey of 324 households in the Varanasi area that was sponsored by the National Labour Institute (the Ministry of Labour's independent research arm) found that 23.5 percent of silk handloom workers were boys and, of those boys, 27.0 percent were non-family labor. Based on this data, the researchers estimated that roughly 106,000 boys (6.4 percent of the total workforce) were working for non-family employers in Varanasi district. It should be noted that although girls are working in silk weaving as well, the researchers were not able to document their work because the girls were often confined to and worked from their homes. Alakh N. Sharma, Institute for Human Development, and Nikhil Raj, V.V. Giri National Labour Institute, Child Labour in Sari Units of Varanasi (Draft Report), undated draft, sec. III, table 3.6 (numbers are rounded to the nearest tenth). An activist working to free bonded laborers, whose organization conducted a survey in 1999, provided similar estimates. Human Rights Watch interview with Lenin Raghuvanshi, People's Vigilance Committee for Human Rights, Varanasi, March 12, 2002. Others place the rate of non-family child labor somewhat lower. See B.N. Juyal and M.K. Jha, "Executive Summary," Child Labour Involvement in Sericulture, para. 2.3.4.
76 A November 2000 survey found that more than 90 percent of weavers reported being indebted to traders. Sharma, Child Labour in Sari Units of Varanasi (Draft Report), sec. VI; Human Rights Watch interview with Dr. Alakh N. Sharma, report co-author and director of the Institute for Human Development, New Delhi, March 10, 2002.
80 Sharma, Child Labour in Sari Units of Varanasi (Draft Report), sec. III, table 3.1 (reporting results of survey of 324 households conducted in November 2000). "Backward castes" are those whose ritual rank and occupational status are above "untouchables" but who themselves remain socially and economically depressed. They are also referred to as Other Backward Classes (OBCs) or Shudras (who constitute the fourth major caste category in the caste system).
81 Ibid. See also Steven Wilkinson, "The Town Level Causes Of Hindu-Muslim Riots," in Electoral Competition, Ethnic Fractionalization and Hindu-Muslim Violence, presented March 24, 2001, Laboratory in Comparative Ethnic Processes, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, http://www.duke.edu/web/licep/3/wilkinson/wilkinson.pdf (retrieved September 2, 2002).
84 According to a Tamil Nadu government official who wished to remain anonymous, a conservative estimate of child labor in silk handlooms in Tamil Nadu would be at least 50,000 children. Human Rights Watch interview with Tamil Nadu government official, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, March 24, 2002. See also Dateline NBC, Slaves to Fashion [transcript], aired June 23, 2002, www.msnbc.com/news/770083.asp (retrieved June 28, 2002) (quoting S. Jeyaraj, Director, Rural Institute for Development Education (RIDE). See also, Human Rights Watch, The Small Hands of Slavery, p. 82. In contrast, the district collector of Kanchipuram told Human Rights Watch there were about 50,000 weavers in the area and as many as 700 child laborers. Human Rights Watch interview with K. Rajaraman, District Collector, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, March 19, 2002.
85 A survey of 166 adult silk handloom weavers in Kanchipuram found that of the 165 non-Muslims, "52 per cent belong to Most Backward and Scheduled Castes, 40.6 to Backward Castes and 7.4, Forward Castes." Babu P. Remesh, Organisational Structure, Labour Relations and Employment in Kancheepuram Silk Weaving, p. 26.
86 Human Rights Watch interview with Helen R. Sekar, Fellow, V.V. Giri National Labour Institute, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, April 1, 2002. Sekar conducted field research on child labor in Kanchipuram from 1997 to June 2001. See also Remesh, Organisational Structure, Labour Relations and Employment in Kancheepuram Silk Weaving, pp. 26-27 (attributing the entry of non-weaving communities into silk weaving to drought and agricultural failure in the region, the work's profitability in the 1950s to 1970s, the ability of children from non-weaving castes to get work for traditional weavers, and the formation of weaving cooperatives based on political motives rather than community objectives).
87 Ibid. Although in the past, caste Hindus were reluctant to allow Dalit children into their homes, their need for exploitable child assistants has eroded this reluctance. Human Rights Watch interview with Helen R. Sekar, Fellow, V.V. Giri National Labour Institute, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, April 1, 2002; Human Rights Watch interview with Gilbert Rodrigo, Director, Legal Resources for Social Action (LRSA) Chengalpattu, Tamil Nadu, March 20, 2002.