- An estimated 1,30,000 children work in Andhra Pradesh’s cotton fields and ginning mills, most of them in Guntur district
- An average workday means 8-10 hours of back-breaking work
- Children, especially between the ages of 8 and 13, preferred because they’re more energetic; their small, tender fingers are more nimble
- Their health seriously jeopardised from inhaling fibre and toxic pesticides used in the fields
***It’s 8 am on Etukuru Road, a hub of about 120 cotton-ginning factories in Guntur city. Six girls, aged between eight and 13, hurry along, making their way past mounds of raw cotton into a couple of noisy ginning mills. Once inside, they waste no time picking up some baskets and loading them with cotton. They then walk to the machines and toss their bales in where the seeds are separated. "It’s child’s play," says their supervisor, with unconscious irony. It is indeed. This is what the...