2015 South Indian Floods

The 2015 South Indian Floods: An Overlooked Tragedy

The 2015 South Indian Floods did not get anywhere near as much attention in the international media as they should have, which is why it is so important to circulate a summary of the 2015 South Indian Floods. South India and Sri Lanka are facing one of the worst disasters that the general area has experienced in years in more ways than one.

Global Climate Change

Over seventy people died in these floods as of November, and the lives of countless other citizens are going to be affected by the floods for years to come. To a certain extent, the people who lived in these areas were getting inundated with an entire monsoon season’s worth of rain. Many experts are debating the cause of this unusual rainfall. Plenty of commentators are attributing it to global climate change.   We’re all feeling the affects of this: here in New Jersey, we’ve been experiencing extreme storms, flooding, and oddly warm weather.  According to this excellent local flood restoration company in New Jersey, we have only more of this extreme weather to look forward to.

Thanks to the depression formed in the Bay of Bengal, the floods managed to affect a broader swath of the area than they would have otherwise. The negative effects of the flooding primarily have occurred in Chennai, but the extent of the damage was certainly not contained there.

2015 South Indian Floods

Flooded streets create major transportation and health consequences.

Poor People Most Affected

Schools, universities, businesses, and daily life in general were all put on hold during the flooding, where it rained at a level that would boggle the mind for more than seven days. Highways, homes, and farmlands were all heavily affected by the rain. Even individuals who were able to afford to live in the sorts of homes that can withstand floods are going to have to cope with severe damage to their homes. The people who live in the slums in these areas have watched everything they own get washed away, and they’re going to have to compete over the resources from the relief efforts when it comes to rebuilding their lives. The 75 million dollar local relief fund may not be sufficient when it comes to absorbing all of the costs from the flooding, even when people correct for all of the costs that are beyond financial compensation.

Stymied Relief Efforts

It should be noted that these were not the sort of floods where the damage could have been largely prevented. While it is true that some governments would have been able to take more measures when it came to evacuating people, these floods were substantial enough that there would have been substantial levels of flood damage and disrupted lives one way or another. However, many people are still objecting to the way in which the government handled this disaster, which has increased tensions between the citizens in these areas and the authority figures.

A full two thousand people had to be rescued by local military forces, or they would have been left stranded, possibly fatally. The relief efforts no doubt managed to prevent many casualties and lessened the full extent of the disaster. However, the disaster is ongoing, with South India and Sri Lanka being forced to recover at present. It is possible that disasters like this are going to be far more commonplace in the future.

What exceptions have been made to child labor laws?

Child labor laws have never managed to prevent all instances of child labor. The people who are trying to address this problem will be asking themselves: what exceptions have been made to child labor laws? It should be noted that even in the United States and many Western nations, there are exemptions from child labor laws that are legally in place. In countries that have far more lax child labor laws, failures involved in enforcing the child labor laws will work as exemptions to those child labor laws in practice.

Children Working in the Family Business

In the United States, child labor laws do not apply if the children are working on farms or in businesses that are owned by their parents or their legal guardians. Usually, children will be able to work the hours that their parents set, and they can start doing that at any age.

This situation is especially pronounced when it comes to the very small proportion of children who still live on farms in the United States. Children will often work very long hours on family farms doing the sort of work that would be performed by workers for far less than minimum wage in most cases. It is considered legally acceptable to do this because in the eyes of the law, this isn’t so different from asking children to take out the trash or do other chores.

The idea that child labor laws don’t apply when it comes to the family business seems to reflect cultural mores from the nineteenth century or the early twentieth century. During those time periods, people specifically had children as a source of labor in many cases, since the kids would be able to start doing chores around the family store or the family farm fairly early in life. Children were economic assets during this point in history.

Times have changed significantly since then in a world where everyone is expected to be educated, agricultural work is underpaid and rare, and children are going to be liabilities and not assets in coldly economic terms. However, these child labor laws still persist in the United States and in many other countries.

Children Working in the Family Business

Naturally, kids in the entertainment industry are also exempted from most child labor laws. Kids can make wreaths and deliver newspapers according to these child labor laws as well, illustrating the specificity of these exceptions and exemptions. The association of paper routes with preteen kids is reflective of these child labor laws.

In many other countries, children are more or less forced to work in order to earn money for their families, regardless of the exceptions that the law may or may not make. However, even in the United States, there is this notion that child labor doesn’t count if it involves the family at all. Some apologists would argue that parents are going to naturally uphold more ethical standards when it comes to child labor than many other employers. However, parents are still going to be the ones employing their kids in this instance.

What is Child Labour?

The term ‘child labor’ becoming a hackneyed phrase in the 21st century is no surprise. Almost everyone has heard about it. Trade unions, international organizations and international organizations have coined different definitions of the term. According to the international conventions any human being that has not attained the age of 18 is considered still a child, but different countries’ government policies have each set their own legal age, which varies most of the time.

Child labor means ‘any kind of work for children that harms or exploits them somehow, be it physically, morally, mentally, or by deprivation of a child of education’. In other words child labor is ‘the often illegal employment of children who have not attained the legal age set by law’. Any such practice is considered as exploitative by many countries world wide.

Child labor is very common in industries such as quarrying, manufacturing, farming, prostitution, mining and so forth. Some work as tourist guides and waiters in many different restaurants. Others have to beg, assemble boxes, clean or polish shoes for a living.

There exist two different schools of thought on this too. There are some who do not consider this as exploitation as long as the child is well paid. There is the other clan which considers their working itself as exploitation.

Child labor in Brazil

Not all work is considered bad for children. Child prostitution and recruitment in the military are among the most strongly rejected type of child labour. Less controversial and socially acceptable jobs such as acting, singing, and farm work outside of school are encouraged and endorsed by rights groups all over the world.

UNICEF numbers 250+ million children between the ages of 2 and 17 as victims of child labor worldwide. Childrens’ Rights groups consider child labor bad for the personal development and growth of a child as it deprives him of the basic right to education which will shape his future.

Many first world nations have outlawed child labor of any kind and have labelled it ruthless and inappropriate. A country’s child labour laws dictate the minimum age a child is allowed to work. In developing countries like India and Bangladesh the law states child labor under the age of 14 is prohibited, while the legal age to work without a guardian’s permission is 16 in the United States.
However, this law is continuously been ignored. Children a little older than 10 years work for close to 20 hours daily or more, making goods for foreign companies at wages of less than 10 cents per item or lower. Children are sometimes the income earners and bread winners of their often poor families, who rely on them for survival. The industrial sector is considered the biggest promoter of child exploitation as the aforementioned situations are often swept under the rug and are easily hidden.

The United Nations and the International Labor Organization consider any type of child labor as exploitative. According to them, the child has a certain right that states that, “the child has a right to be protected and shielded from any form of abuse for the sake of income generation and from performing any kind of work that is hazardous or which will interfere with the child’s education, or which poses great damage to the health of the child be it physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development”.

Child Labor Africa

What Countries Still Use Child Labor?

Child labor is a practice that reformers have been trying to stamp out around the world for centuries. Sadly, child labor was something of a norm for a lot of human history. It wasn’t until the nineteenth century that reformers really started to view childhood as its own life stage that needed to be guarded from the pressures of adult life. However, the nineteenth century child labor reforms really were not strictly enforced for a long period of time even in the West. Child labor is still an unfortunate norm in many parts of the world today, making the battle to end child labor throughout the world one that spans several centuries today.

Countries That Still Use Child Labor

Many people are going to ask the question: what countries still use child labor? When they’ve identified those countries, they can avoid the products that are manufactured there. The situation is sadly going to be more complicated even than that, but the individuals who are at least able to identify the countries with the worst child labor problems should have an idea of where to focus their efforts.

It’s no coincidence that child labor was worse in the United States when the United States itself was a developing country in the nineteenth century. In countries where many people are poor, children must work in order to support the family. The lifestyle in these countries is often going to beat the poorer citizens down so much that they get old before their time, and they will rely on their children more than ever by a certain age.

The countries with the worst child labor practices are largely in Africa and the Middle East, in countries like Somalia, Yemen, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, Sudan, Myanmar, and Eritrea. In many cases, the children in these parts of the world are going to work under extremely dangerous conditions for nearly zero money, so they’re only going to barely succeed at supporting their family even as they sacrifice their childhood years and most of their childhood development.

Russia, China, Brazil, and India all use child labor as well, and these are countries that are going to supply more consumer goods to the countries in which child labor is significantly less common. All of these economies could be classified as developing economies. With greater economic development and the creation of more wealth, there will be less of a need for these countries to even use child labor.

In addition to the moral problems associated with child labor, most of which can never be made better, child labor does not make sense economically or in terms of the health and wealth of a nation. Educating children and training them to be skilled workers is going to elevate countries, bringing them out of their industrial ages and into their technological ages, allowing them to produce the goods that are really going to grow their economy. Sadly, child labor is not an issue that can be solved economically, even if it does make economic sense to do so. It was reduced in the West socially, which may have to happen again.

What Are the United Nations’ Rights of the Child?

Human rules or rights have been made so that we can live good lives, so that we can learn, develop, feel safe, and be healthy and happy. Human rights for children have been written down in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as part of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is a paper which lists all things every child should have to live and develop in a proper manner.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is an agreement between countries to protect all children, regardless of their status. The convention has 54 articles and 41 of them highlight a rule, such as all children have the right to a name, all children have the right to education, and all children have the right to play. The countries which accept these rules are regularly checked upon to make sure that they’re not cheating and breaking any rules. Today, 193 countries have accepted the rules of the convention. Some of the common rights are discussed below.

Right to a name

One of the rights covered by the Convention is that all children have the right to a Name. A Name is an important part of a child’s identity, part of who the child is, and how other people know the child. A name connects the child to a family and their community. It tells the world that the child exists.

Right to a nationality

Another important and closely related rule included in the convention is the right to a nationality. A nationality is like a membership of a country and it is really about where the child is from you or more specifically, where they were born or where their parents came from. Having a nationality means the child has protection and benefits of the country. It also means they share a culture history and a language with other people in their country.

The Right to participate

The convention also says that all children should be listened to and be able to say what they think. Freedom of speech is a human right and everybody has the right to say what they think. What children think and say is important, and so adults should listen to it.

Right to be able to think and believe

All children have the right to choose their own religion. The convention allows children to believe what they want.

Right to water

Children have the right, not just to any water, but clean water. Clean water is very crucial for healthy bodies, and without water, their bodies wouldn’t be able to grow.

Right to food

Along with water, all children should also have the right to food. Food is fuel and without food, children do not have the capability to play, learn or just simply be happy.

The Right to live with someone

The convention also says that all children have the right to live with their parents or someone who cares for them. A child’s family can consist of just one other person, but the important thing is that they care of the child.

UN Rights of the Child

Reasons for Child Labor

Although for many citizens of the “first world” countries, child labor seems to be a problem of the past – most notably the industrial revolution – there are more working children in the world today, than there have ever been before. With over 215 million of underage workers, over half of them is working in jobs that are dangerous and can be very harmful to their health and lives. And, unfortunately, lack of choice or help, forcing them to work in unsafe conditions, is just one of their benefits in the eyes of people who hire them.

Poverty and disease

The most important factor, which forces children to work is poverty. In countries where the yearly average income is below $500 per year, working children make between 30% and 60% of all children. In countries where the average income is between $500 and $1000 per year, the number drops down to 10% and 30% on each end respectively.

Apart from poverty, high death rate and diseases such as AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa, are forcing many children, whose parents get sick and die, to leave the school and go earn money trying to help their relatives or simply survive themselves. Even then, they sometimes don’t earn more than $3 for a 60-hour work week; often, they don’t earn anything at all, apart from a small portion of food.

Child Labor in India

The modern slavery

Children are employed in mines and factories; they work on the streets of big, rapidly growing cities and in farming – they are needed everywhere. They are great for almost any work, especially wanted for their manual skills and used in jobs such as sewing. They make for cheap, valuable workers, very easy to control. They don’t know how to oppose abuse and they won’t fight for their rights. They can’t form unions and in the countries where child labor is widespread, there’s barely anyone to protect them.

It’s a problem, which is often overlooked in developed countries, and yet it’s a real modern slavery. People in rich countries often don’t care about child labor, because they benefit from it by having goods produced cheaply with a very low human resources costs. Many western companies employ children in their Asian factories, and their rights are very often disrespected. Many times no-one even cares if the children work there legally, as kidnapping and selling children to work is a widespread practice in many poor countries.

Even families can’t help.

Children are often forced to work when they are as young as five years old. One of the most common reasons why children are forced to work is to pay off debts of their family. If not because of the debts, children are forced to help their, often illiterate parents, make ends meet. Sometimes parents go as far as selling their own children to work, either in an act of desperation or believing that they will get a better future somewhere else.

Children labor is a huge tragedy of people who every day lose their dignity and childhood, working for less than $1 a day. Lack of education, weak laws, rapid urbanization and ease of abuse make children a ‘valuable’ workers in the world where there’s no place for ethics.

US Child Factory Worker

Child Labor During the Industrial Revolution

Historically, children had been hired out as apprentices to learn a trade; however, during the Industrial Revolution, the need for child labor and the greed of businesses to get rich quick made this a common practice to fill the needs of new factories keeping up with the demand for manufactured goods.

Cheap labor

Child labor was cheap and families sent their little ones out to work in horrible conditions in order to survive. Long gone were many of the family farms, where children worked hard but were under the supervision of their parents. Instead these underage industrial workers toiled under the watchful eye of callus foremen who would send the little ones into crawl spaces to unclog machinery and burrow in tunnels. Many of these child laborers were from poor and immigrant families, who lacked the education and resource to have any other means of income. The whole family would work, with extended family members from seven years old to eighty reporting to the same workplace.

US Child Factory Worker

Many factories laid off adult workers when they saw that they could hire children for less. There were no protections such as worker’s compensation or health care, and if a worker got sick or hurt at work, they were readily replaced with no thought to the worker’s survival. Working conditions included freezing temperatures, exposure to intense heat and flame, and disease carried by rats and other vermin who would bite the children as they churned out the products for which the public was clamoring.

Dangerous conditions

The historic pictures of the cute urchins in the newsboy caps selling papers did not tell the real story of the suffering experienced by children in the mines and factories during
The Factory Act, passed by Parliament in 1833 brought some relief but not much to working conditions for children in the UK. The basics of this acts entailed that no child workers under the age of nine should be working in factories and that children should not be required to work at night. There was also a provision for two mandatory hours of schooling each day.

This was to be overseen by inspectors, that were supposed to check to be sure these laws were obeyed. In 1847, similar legislation, called The 10 Hour Act, was meant to limit the time women and children could work to 10 hours per day.

Corruption of the legal system

Despite the laws, many factory owners found ways around the laws, including payoffs and under the table bargaining. Many families of the children affected readily lied about their child’s age and made no complaints as the money their child earned helped keep a roof over their heads. The law was good in theory, yet sparingly applied.

In 1906 Upton Sinclair wrote the controversial novel, “The Jungle”, in an effort to spotlight the harsh conditions that many workers, many children, endured working in the meat packing factories in America during that time. Instead of outrage over the plight of the children working in these inhumane conditions, the public was outraged by what was in their sausage, and the Food and Drug Administration was formed to address impurities in food. It would be much later that child labor laws came to the final rescue of children, many of whom were maimed and killed in these factories.