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Sunday, September 27, 1998 Published at 04:23 GMT 05:23 UK

World: South Asia

Thousands involved in Indian child labour

Two years ago, children did the same work in Pakistan

A survey commissioned by the International Labour Organisation, the ILO, into the Indian sports goods industry has found that there could be around 10,000 children working in the main production centre.

The survey, carried out in the city of Jalandhar, found that most of the children work from home and also attend school.

It found what it described as a significant number of children reporting backache and joint pains which were thought to have been caused by lengthy squatting and the continuous use of needles.

The issue of child labour in the industry was highlighted in a report by the British charity, Christian Aid last year. The ILO survey confirms that the children invariably come from the poorest families.

[ image: The football World Cup was a big money earner]
The football World Cup was a big money earner
Negotiations are in their final stages for an agreement to eliminate child labour in the Indian sports goods industry. Discussions in the coming weeks are likely to revolve around ways of cutting out the contractors -or example, by introducing labour co-operatives and effective monitoring once an industry donor agreement is in place.

The BBC's correspondent in Delhi, Mike Wooldridge, says if the talks are concluded successfully, India is heading towards an agreement on the lines of one already in operation in Pakistan.

There, phasing out child labour in the industry is linked with a programme to improve the prospects for the children concerned.

Another centre of sports goods production, Meerut, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, is yet to be surveyed.

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