Photo Gallery: Child Labor Banned in India

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A young girl sells popcorn on a sidewalk in Patna, India, on October 9, 2006, the day before a federal ban went into effect in India prohibiting employers from hiring children under 14 to work as maids or in restaurants, tea shops, hotels, or roadside eateries.

Indian law already prohibits the employment of children under 14 in "hazardous" industries. Yet child labor remains widespread in India, despite the country's emerging economic power.

At least 12 million Indian children work instead of going to school, according to government estimates. Advocacy groups say the real figure could be as high as 60 million.

"This is a huge problem," said Anil Shah, who heads the Houston, Texas-based U.S. chapter of Pratham, an Indian nongovernmental organization working toward universal primary education in India. "Millions of children are being robbed of their future."

—Stefan Lovgren

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