Child labour in the Indian cottonseed sector

This report, Child Labour in the Indian Cottonseed Sector, is one of two desk-based reviews commissioned by Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) on the topic of child labour in high- risk sectors and high-risk countries.

Cotton plant with buds

Cotton plant with buds

NBIM manages the Government Pension Fund Global on behalf of the Ministry of Finance, which owns the fund on behalf of the Norwegian people. NBIM has been entrusted with safeguarding and building financial wealth for future generations. The fund is large, global and with a long-term investment horizon. The fund is invested in most listed markets, sectors and companies in order to capture global value creation and diversify risk.

The aim of the report is three-fold: firstly, to understand the status quo of child labour in specific high-risk sectors or geographic areas (India, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ghana); secondly, to identify how child labour practices vary across sectors and between international and domestic companies; and, thirdly, to ascertain how other wider social issues either impact on, or are impacted by child labour.

India is home to the largest number of child workers in the world but there is no consensus as to what that number is exactly. Recent official statistics put the number at approximately 4.3 million. UN sources and civil society have far higher estimates. An accurate count is hampered by definitional ‘grey areas’, under-reporting by officials and the hiring of children in the informal economy, which often renders them ‘invisible’. Notwithstanding these obstacles, the Census of India reports child labour as having decreased from 12.6 million in 2001 to 4.3 million in 2011.

The focus of this report is on three key areas. The first of these is how child labour manifests itself in the cottonseed sector in india. The report then goes on to explore various (related) causes and effects of child labour practices. Thirdly, it considers whether (and how) corporate practices in relation to child labour and children’s rights vary amongst domestic and multinational enterprises.

Download the publication (PDF) here.

ILPI 2015, Child Labor in the Indian Cottonseed Sector, International Law and Policy Institute, Oslo.

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