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the government’s broader free-market goals

The case for compulsory primary education, made prolifically by Myron Weiner, suggests that change must come from within the Indian legal framework, and must be supported by official attitudes, in order to overcome profound class divisions and to achieve the government’s broader free-market goals. Efforts to make primary education compulsory would require an interpretation of education as not only a constitutional principle, but also as a fundamental right enforced by the state. This perspective views education as the main alternative to lifelong labor for all Indians, and as a building block in the construction of a diverse, educated human resource base capable of supporting a more open and competitive economy. Exploitation of children working in dangerous conditions not only results in constraints on a child’s health and development, but also solidifies his or her fate as an unskilled, low-paid worker. A greater focus on female education would precipitate a decline in both fertility—seen as a selfreinforcing cause and effect of child labor—and in children’s work participation. The debate amongst analysts of the economics of forced labor, particularly of bonded working children, revolves around whether work can be eradicated completely—or whether current labor conditions in India are acceptable given the economic demands of underdevelopment. T