Children Combining Work and Education in Cottonseed Production in Andhra Pradesh

Virginia Morrow
Working paper

Child labour in India has long been the focus of research, policy concern and intervention. This paper presents a preliminary analysis of children's work in cottonseed production in Andhra Pradesh, drawing on evidence from two case studies from the qualitative component of Young Lives. In parts of rural Andhra Pradesh, children work in the cotton fields for two to three months of the school year. Children highlighted the importance of this work in their everyday lives and its consequences for their schooling. Evidence shows marked gender and age differentiation. In the early stages of cotton production, there was reported to be a cultural as well as an economic basis for children's work in cottonseed pollination, when it was believed that pre-pubescent girls were preferred for this kind of work, as they were considered to be 'pure'. However, this has shifted somewhat, and children appear to work in cotton pollination for economic reasons, as well as practical ideas that they are better-suited to this type of work because of their physical height and dexterity. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of the research for discourses related to children’s rights in India.