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Elimination of child labor                  June 2013

SRISTI in collaboration with ILO announces a competition to find innovative ideas for eliminating child labour

There are a number of occupations that are hazardous and in which child labour is strictly prohibited. However, there are still instances where children are employed in such occupations. Some of the reasons are: For some families and communities, involving children in the work is often the only way they can sustain their livelihood. The implication of this is devastating on the child as it not only deprives the child of their rightful education but also has a harmful and deleterious effect on the health of the children. Such child labourers are at a risk of a wide range of biological, physical, chemical, dust, machinery, ergonomic, hygiene and psychological hazards. This coupled with other problems such as insufficient nutrition ultimately leads to compounding social and psychological stress among the children.

The Design Process

Every participant will maintain a workbook of rough designs, options and final solution. Whenever a trade-off is made between different forms, features or functions, the same should be recorded along with the reasons for trade-off. A workbook also provides insights about the design directions that were not pursued or were abandoned. Sometimes, those are the relevant directions. In the absence of record, we would not know about these directions. For the mentors to comment online, these notebooks will be helpful. They will know at which step has a particular team done well or not so well. With time, the mentoring process will become more focused and productive. Each team will be expected to blog every day or every alternate day about the progress they are making or the problem they are struggling with. The local mentors, faculty from different colleges will help in choosing materials, forms and balance among cost, features, performance and affordability.

Dignity in Technology

While designing innovations, we need to assess whether a designed device adds to the dignity of the worker. Look at the example of the cobbler and see the obsolescence of his iron triangle, a tool for mending shoes. In India and Afghanistan, the cobbler sits on the ground, uses obsolete tools and has neither a dignified way of working nor servicing customers in that manner. The position of the cobbler in Mongolia and China seems, in sharp contrast, just the opposite. With the change in the design of shoes, we no more need to hammer nails in the leather shoes. We need adhesive and/or stitching. We may need a clamp and other such devices. We also need a proper sitting arrangement for the cobbler as well as for his customer.

The implication is that whatever solution we develop for economically poor people, it should add to the dignity of their work and enhance the self respect of the worker. The dignity quotient should be high for all innovations that aim at improving the conditions of workers.

Autopoiesis Design
Autopoiesis Design

Autopoiesis design is a self correcting design form. When a product reaches the hands of the worker or user, it does not remain static. It undergoes slow transformation in form, feature, and/or functions. It adapts, and if there is an error in its functioning, it lends itself to repair through its internal features or sometimes interactively with the users. A spade designed by a Kashmiri boy could become a shovel as well (something some other people had also tried). Flexibility, self design, self correction and amenability for adaptation to multiple user contexts/operational environments characterise an autopoiesis system.

Compendium of Technological Innovation for Eliminating Child Labour


Childhood Labour

Denial of childhood is an unacceptable malice. Yet, in a large number of regions in the world children choose work over education. This not only affects the future capabilities of children but also perpetuates a moral myth that an means of generating economic surlus or growth is acceptable. The Right to Education Act require that every child must be provided school education. In cases where children go to school and work, fatigue and other work related impact often decrease a child’s school performance. However, the tragedy is that laws seldom prove to be sufficient.


Problem Statement                                                                 June 2013





The journey started with identifying the problem of the people involved in broom making. For the first few days, we met the people residing on roadside who make brooms and sell them in local market. We were staggered by their problems.


Some of their problems that we found are as follows:

  • The posture: they had to continuously sit on the floor in an uncomfortable posture. This is responsible for them experiencing pain in the back, thighs and arms as well.

  • At a time, only one broom can be made.

  • Also, the action of beating the broom for splitting the leaves is quite a troublesome.

Conventional bar type Model 1
Field Visit

To understand the problem of the conventional broom makers, we visited the local broom makers of the city. There we had a clear idea as to what exactly the broom makers and their family members have to face. Right from making segregating the palm leaves to the actual process of broom making; all was seen by us. This healthy interaction proved to be interestingly strong in   giving us the knowledge which we could not gain from the existing theoretical or e-sources.



There are steps in broom making.

Out of these four, we have improvised a pre-existing machine for the fourth action i.e. for leaf splitting

1. The huge date stem like leaves are cut from the tree and brought at the place of broom making.

2. The leaves are segregated from the stem and tied in a bundle.

3. The handle of the bundle is covered with rubber strips (generally tubes of bicycles) so that it is easy to hold.

4. The tied leaves are beaten on the pointed nails of the conventional tool till the leaves are properly split.


Here are several factors which we had compiled so as to reach to the depth of the problem faced by the broom makers.

  • Posture

  • Number of brooms made per day

  • Number of brooms sold per day

  • Need for producing more brooms

  •  Feasibility of working with both hands

  • Rome wasn’t built in a day neither was our design. The final design is a result of several improvisations in the pre-existing one.The first model suggested by us was driven by the sewing machine mechanism.


​Expert Comments



According to the feedback received by the faculty, we were advised to resume to the sewing machine pedal mechanism, but when we consulted our fabricator, he said that bicycle driven mechanism was suitable for this one.


Also, the experts had advised us to place only 1 drum instead of two; we inquired this with our broom makers whom we were in continuous touch with. They said that they could work with both hands. Thus, we adhered to our design.


We added another adjustable idle gear like structure so as to smoother the pedaling operation. Also, a rod in  the center as a support was introduced. 


The process of splitting leaves in broom making is usually done by a tool in which nails are fitted on a wooden bar. the earlier design compromises with the productivity, posture and hygiene of the persons involved. The improvised design reduces pain and fatigue by giving a healthy cycling posture and thereby two brooms can be  made at a time its compared to only one in the previous design. The machine provides the user a very comfortable posture and takes care of the cost-productivity-efficiency balance as well.

Field visit


Team visited to the railway station of ‘Kalupur, Ahmedabad’ for seeing children who work as a cobbler and polish the shoes of  people.

The cobbler at Kalupur informed that it is hard to make a sewing machine for old foot wears because the cuts are not symmetric but it will be better if a affordable polishing machine is designed.

The main parts of polishing process are dirt brushing, applying polish and later applying cream and then again a soft brushing. The brushing is the main part of polishing.


The model appears like a conventional brush, but it is electric power  driven. It takes less time than the manual one and also eliminates labor fatigue caused due to repeated to and fro action. Here, They convert the rotary motion of the motor into to and fro motion of the brush. The methodology is same as the manual brush therefore it's feasibility for practical use is good. Through this brush, the productivity and quality of the polishing increases. 


Problem Statement                                                                   June 2013
Design & Idea Concept


Transportation of Bricks through Portable and Adjustable Conveyor Belt

Transportation of Bricks is a major problem for workers at construction site especially for women and children and yeah of course it would be helpful for those people if anything beneficial can be done thereby reducing their work for loading and unloading of bricks, reducing accidental chances as well as increasing their efficiency.

Child labour at a construction site 

Children carrying vegetables on head


As shown in figure (A), a manually driven conveyor belt is designed that can be adjustable as the height of wall varies

and if needed for vertical transport, some extrudes can be given to keep the bricks.

The conveyor belt is made in parts and can be detached when needed to carry from one place to another place as shown in figure. The conveyor belt can be driven either by hand or pedal.

​This concept will definitely need less work from workers and hence can increase their productivity as well and more           importantly it will reduce CHILD LABOUR.



Bricks carrier jacket


A jacket can be made using a wooden/other material back support, having inclined platform to place bricks, which may be supported by threads to distribute the load on shoulder and the lower body part as shown in the picture.

This jacket will have 3 belts 2 for distributing the weight on shoulder and one rounding the lower abdominal portion of human. The postion of belts can be changed.

the inclined platform for putting bricks will ensure that person carrying this jacket walks with it in straight posture (Without bending and so without back pain).

Hand driven bricks transport vehicle

Transportation of Bricks at construction site leads to severe problems to the workers including children. Also the number of bricks transported on head are usually 10-14, leading to lower efficiency and accidental risk.

As shown in the picture, one wheel transport vehicle can be designed for bricks transport at the site. It can be easily pushed to transfer the bricks, requiring less power.

The difference between the wheelbarrow/trolley and our vehicle is majorly the efforts required to first pull the weight and simultaneously push it forward for movement while our vehicle will use maximally the efforts on pushing it forward so less energy is required.

Variation in number of wheels and design, as shown in picture, can also give a better vehicle based on test conditions


Type 1

Type 2

Type 3

Type 1: Improvised Load Carrying Device

In this version of load carrying device,the weight is distributed over the shoulders and the upper back,substituting the traditional way of carrying bricks on the head.The hands rest in an ergonomically comfortable position on the supports provided,thus also contributing in balancing the weight which is on the platform above.

This device is made from stainless steel which is high in strength and at the same time very light

Type 2: Load Carrying Device for Coolies

This device will help coolies carry heavy weights without putting too much strain on head and neck. The device will distribute the weight on shoulders and on back as well. The two platforms placed on the two sides. The design of the device will enable. the coolies to carry maximum luggage in minimum given space. It is made of stainless steel and is an ergonomically efficient design and has the potential to replace the traditional method of carrying luggage.

Type 3: Multipurpose Carrying Device

The Design produced here can carry a minimum of 12 bricks at a time or two baskets of each weighing 10kg-15kg distributing the weight throughout the shoulders. A support to prevent the load from slipping is positioned in  such  a way that the weight of the load can be carried by hand too. The posture of the body will fall under the ergonomic limits while the load is being carried. The time taken for loading is also reduced. It can be easily handled by one single laborer.

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