Anyone who has travelled to India for work or pleasure will be aware of the complex set of challenges the country faces as it strives to drag itself into the modern world, India is developing at break neck speed. Unsurprisingly though in the country that boasts the world’s largest population, it’s not all progress…….some people are getting left behind. Some of the workers in stone supply chains are testament to this, especially in remote quarry areas and villages like Budhpura. The communities in these areas face many challenges and in a country the size of India they are often overlooked and forgotten by the government…..left to their own devices. Many, of what we consider to be, fundamental rights are not available to these people, or if they are available they are difficult to obtain. Health care, education and employment opportunities are limited and basic community institutions are often lacking.
On the 27th of May, Manjari, with support of the State Forum on Natural Stone, Government of Rajasthan, Labour Department and Medical Department, has organised a mass health camp to raise awareness on silicosis among workers in the sandstone industry and screen workers on the occupational disease. Silicosis is an incurable occupational lung disease caused by the inhalation of silica dust. Out of the 82 workers that were screened 7 silicosis and 10 tuberculosis patients were detected. Furthermore, more than 500 sandstone workers were registered under the Construction Workers Welfare Scheme. Under this scheme worker are entitled to nine social security benefits, including compensation when affected by an occupational disease.
Budhpura Cobble Traders Union: From advocating existence of child labour to becoming a protector of child rights
This is the story of Budhpura, a small village in Taleda Block in the Bundi District of Rajasthan. The main industry in this area is stone quarrying and the production of Sandstone setts. It’s estimated that 85% of the population in this area work in or rely on the natural stone industry for their livelihoods.
There are many yards in and around Budhpura involved in the production, grading and sorting of Sandstone setts, 25 of the largest yards came together to form the cobble traders union.
Before Manjari started to work in the area, the majority of children in Budhpura and the surrounding villages were out of school and working in the cobble yards. The sole objective of the Child Labour Free Zones Project is that all children have the right to an education and to enjoy childhood. Children were visibly working in the cobble yards around Budhpura, so engaging with the owners of the cobble yards became the prime focus for the Manjari project team.
Hello, I’m Steven Walley, managing director of London Stone. I recently returned from a trip to Budhpura where I met some of the driving forces behind the project we are supporting to create child labour free zones in Budhpura.
The project to create child labour free zones in Budhpura enjoys wide ranging support from a range of different stakeholders. Western corporate companies like Stoneasy and London Stone, Western NGO’s, Stop Child Labour and ICN, and local NGO’s in India like Manjari and ARAVALI. Without these multi stakeholder groups it would simply not be possible to deliver lasting change in Budhpura. These organisation provide expertise, leverage, funds and motivation that are not always available locally. These external groups though only tell one side of the story. What about all the people who live within the project area, who are a part of the local community and whom this project is having a positive effect on? To these people, Child Labour Free Zones (CLFZ) is far more than just an ethical project, it’s their lives.
Hello, My name is Steven Walley, I’m the Managing Director of London Stone, a UK based natural stone importer and supplier.
No Child Left Behind is a 6 part blog series, written to educate and inform the industry about the root causes of child labour in the Indian Sandstone industry. The blog also aims to raise awareness of the amazing community led initiatives that are slowly succeeding in eradicating child labour in Budhpura and the surrounding villages and hamlets, where the majority of Sandstone Setts, destined for UK and European markets, are produced.
Last month you heard from Bram Callewier, Director of Belgium based stone importer, Stoneasy. Bram’s informative blog talked about the historical context of how western companies got involved in the Indian Sandstone industry and how little our understanding was of ethical issues in those “early days”. You’re now reading part 2 of the 6 part series. I’m going to be talking about Manjari. Manjari are the Budhpura based NGO playing a pivotal role in establishing child labour free zones in Budhpura and the surrounding villages & hamlets. But first, before we go any further we need to understand the complexity of the root causes of child labour.