A child carries unbaked bricks to a kiln at a brick factory in Raichak, India, in December 2000. Scenes like this remain a fact of life in India, despite a longtime ban on hard labor by children.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says firm action would be taken against employers who violate a newer ban, which forbids "softer" child labor, such as cooking food in restaurants.
"I call upon each one of you to stop employing children as workers and actively encourage children to join schools," Singh said on October 10, 2006.
But some experts say India's poor schools are largely to blame for the widespread child labor. Primary school education in India is free, and a recent survey by the education advocacy group Pratham showed that 94 percent of India's children are enrolled in school. That same poll, however, found that only half of the students could read and write.
"The poor quality of education plays a big part why children drop out and go to work," Pratham's Anil Shah said. "Parents are saying they might as well send their children to work if they're not learning anything in school."
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Photograph by REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw