Working Children in Rural and Urban Areas


Dr. Ravi P. Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

We know that many children in the age group of about 5 to 15 years work in rural and urban areas today. Many male children work in factories, workshops, etc. Surprisingly even female children of that age group are also working in industrial units — factories and workshops in urban areas. In addition girls are mainly working in domestic areas — homes looking after small children and assisting their parents especially mothers. Their services are also required in cleaning homes and cooking many types of food which the ladies of the home have taught them in the beginning and now they are adept at cooking delicious items of food themselves.

In the apartment complex where I live in a busy area of the capital city of Delhi, many teenage  women are working in several apartments. This  allows the ladies of these apartments to work outside their homes as teachers in schools and colleges or in nearby offices as clerks or officials.

Some of these women live in nearby homes from where they come to work daily. There are also some women helps who come from outside the apartment complex — some from outside Delhi from some regional distant states such as Jharkhand or Bihar. Many of these women work and sleep in the apartments where they work and occasionally talk about their homes and parents whom they have left back to work in Delhi. Sometimes they sing some songs which they had learnt in their homes — some songs have an interesting  tribal flavour.

There are some young women who work in farms or family enterprises. They may not be getting full wages for their work but they are provided food and other requirements such as clothes, etc. The employers of these young women say that they are treated well and ensure that they remain happy and cheerful in the enterprise they work.

Instead of working in factories, some young women work in mines which is a difficult area to work in. Some of the mines are narrow and it is difficult for these girls to work there. Sometimes serious problems such as fires erupt in these mines, but after taking care of these problems, mining activities  continue under better conditions.

Occasionally, these girls are bonded labour. Their parents may have taken a sizeable loan from the owners of these factories or mines and the financial loan is paid off by young women and sometimes men working in the factories in lieu of wages. The conditions of working in these places are difficult— sometimes very harsh. However, these young people somehow manage to pay off the loans by working with reduced wages and under harsh conditions.

Fortunately, there are some government agencies who keep an eye on the conditions of work in the factories and ensure that the young workers are treated reasonably well and not exploited. These agencies often get political support that ensure reasonable conditions of work for the employees. Even so, working in these enterprises is difficult, especially for women who have to look after their own young children also.

Occasionally, some women employees complain that working conditions are harsh but they realise that they have to somehow overcome the difficulties and continue working even if the wages are small. There are, as stated above, some agencies which have political support that allows them to keep an eye on the working conditions and fixation of wages etc so that the workers are not over exploited and they continue working.

Many people complain that there is too much of politics in life including in these workshops. But a certain amount of politics is inevitable and necessary.


Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi.

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 20 Nov 2023.

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