Vulnerable workers and labour standards (non-)compliance in global production networks: home-based child labour in Delhi’s garment sector

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Child labor in apparel value chains is not as central a focus of civil society and organized labor movements as it was a decade ago, a tendency that reflects the successes of public and private initiatives in this regard. However while the incidence of child labor has certainly gone down, it still persists in some segments of the industry and in production for international markets. This working paper assesses the nature of child labor in segments of global garment production in and around the National Capital Region (NCR) of Delhi, including Gurgaon and the New Industrial Development Authority (NOIDA). The authors show child labor exists almost entirely in the embroidery and embellishment tasks of garment production, either as part of home work or in household-based enterprises. After presenting the findings of this study, the authors consider various aspects of the child labor debate. Can it be considered a form of apprenticeship? What is the role of poverty and capacity for aspiration? The working paper considers possible options to eliminate child labor, including the role of the new constitutional amendment for universal and compulsory education and a possible conditional cash transfer (CCT) scheme.