Child Labor and Technology

I had earlier put up a post on whether Child Labor should really be abolished. This post drew heavily from Amit Varma’s article in and spoke about the recent raids conducted by the Delhi Police on various sweatshops in and around the NCR to recover small children from being exploited in various ways in these places. The question that I had posed there was ‘Ok, good, now that you’ve rescued these children, what next? What are you going to do to alleviate these kids’ position now? At least upto now they were able to get 2 decent meals a day because of their ‘jobs’. Now that you’ve taken that away from them, are they expected to take to the streets and beg for food?’

So when I came across this post in The Great Indian Mutiny titled ‘The Riddle of Child Labor’ which mentioned this brilliant article by noted Indian economist Bibek Debroy in the Indian Express, my interest was piqued.

Bibek in his article, talks about the origins of child labor way back in the times of the Industrial Revolution in England and the rest of Europe, and how even then, governments and monarchies did not have a concrete answer as to how to resolve this problem. History the world over, has proven that any kind of legislation and judicial measures to prevent child labor are only kneejerk reactions, and give rise to other more serious issues such as these kids coming on to the streets, and ending up as vagrants, thieves and prostitutes.

Now, is that the solution to child labor? I don’t think so.

In my opinion, what governments of today need to do is to first of all get the correct statistics on the exact numbers of children being employed in the unorganized sector before coming up with any measures to rid the society of this evil.

Bibek, in his article, has an interesting suggestion. He mentions the case of the Brazilian streetkids, who were forced out of the auto-mechanic shops into schools due to the technological advances made in the automobile industry, which ensured that their manual skills were rendered redundant. A kid had to have a basic education if he wanted to repair cars. Maybe technology companies can put in a concentrated effort to develop technology which make manual labor (especially the type that can be done by kids) redundant. This would probably automatically make the entire concept of ‘child labor’ redundant, is what Bibek argues.

While I mostly agree with Bibek on his views that maybe technology can make child labor redundant, I strongly believe in legislation being a strong deterrent at least initially. Anybody who breaks or flouts rules regarding this issue should be severely punished and an example made of them. This will make people think twice before they employ small kids in their establishments. None of us, as educated people should turn a blind eye to this issue, as this directly affects all our futures.

Hmm, food for thought, what say folks?


Related links:

Earlier post by yours truly
Amit Varma – Why Children Labor – (courtesy:
Bibek Debroy – No fairy tales, please – (courtesy:
The Great Indian Mutiny – The Riddle of Child Labour – (courtesy:


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