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Categories of child labour
Child labour in India
Basic reasons for child labour
Consequences of child labour
Some facts about child labour
Child labour in Statistics
Child labour laws in India (legal)
Child labour: STILL A BIG CHALLENGE
Child labour is the practice of having
children engage in economic activity, on part
or full-time basis. The practice deprives
children of their childhood, and is harmful to
their physical and mental development.
Poverty, lack of good schools and growth of
informal economy are considered as the
important causes of child labour in India.
According to the Census 2001 figures there are 1.26
crore working children in the age group of 5-14 as
compared to the total child population of 25.2 crore.
There are approximately 12 lacs children working in the
hazardous occupations/processes which are covered
under the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act
i.e. 18 occupations and 65 processes. However, as per
survey conducted by National Sample Survey
Organization (NSSO) in 2004-05, the number of
working children is estimated at 90.75 lakh. It shows
that the efforts of the Government have borne the
CHILD LABOUR IN INDIA
International Labour Organization (ILO) suggests
poverty is the greatest single cause behind child
labour. For impoverished households, income
from a child's work is usually crucial for his or her
own survival or for that of the household. Income
from working children, even if small, may be
between 25 to 40% of these household income.
Other scholars such as Harsch on African child
labour, and Edmonds and Pavcnik on global child
labour have reached the same conclusion.
In European history when child labour was common, as well as
in contemporary child labour of modern world, certain cultural
beliefs have rationalized child labour and thereby encouraged
it. Some view that work is good for the character-building and
skill development of children. In many cultures, particular
where informal economy and small household businesses
thrive, the cultural tradition is that children follow in their
parents' footsteps; child labour then is a means to learn and
practice that trade from a very early age. Similarly, in many
cultures the education of girls is less valued or girls are simply
not expected to need formal schooling, and these girls pushed
into child labour such as providing domestic services.
Biggeri and Mehrotra have studied the macroeconomic factors that
encourage child labour. They focus their study on five Asian nations
including India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines. They
suggest that child labour is a serious problem in all five, but it is not a
new problem. Macroeconomic causes encouraged widespread child
labour across the world, over most of human history. They suggest that
the causes for child labour include both the demand and the supply side.
While poverty and unavailability of good schools explain the child labour
supply side, they suggest that the growth of low paying informal
economy rather than higher paying formal economy is amongst the
causes of the demand side. Other scholars too suggest that inflexible
labour market, size of informal economy, inability of industries to scale
up and lack of modern manufacturing technologies are major
macroeconomic factors affecting demand and acceptability of child
Consequences of child labour
The presence of a large number of child laborers is regarded as
a serious issue in terms of economic welfare. Children who
work fail to get necessary education. They do not get the
opportunity to develop physically, intellectually, emotionally
and psychologically. In terms of the physical condition of
children, children are not ready for long monotous work
because they become exhausted more quickly than adults. This
reduces their physical conditions and makes the children more
vulnerable to disease. Children in hazardous working
conditions are even in worse condition. Children who work,
instead of going to school, will remain illiterate which limits
their ability to contribute to their own well being as well as to
community they live in. Child labour has long term adverse
effects for India.
SOME FACTS ABOUT CHILD LABOUR
According to the Indian census of 1991, there are 11.28 million working
children under the age if fourteen years in India.
Over 85% of this child labour is in the country’s rural areas, working in
agricultural activities such as farming, livestock, rearing, forestry and
The world’s highest number of working children is in India. ILO
estimates that 218 million children were involved in child labour in 2004,
of which 126 million were engaged in hazardous work.
The Hindi belt, including Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar
Pradesh, account for 1.27 crore working children in the country, engaged in
both hazardous and non-hazardous occupations and processes.
Over 19 lakh children labourers in the 5-14 age group are in Uttar
Pradesh. Rajasthan accounts for over 12.6 lakh workers followed by Bihar
with over 11 lakh and Madhya Pradesh with 10.6 lakh.
However, according to the 2001 census, Andhra Pradesh with 13.6 lakh
child labour stands second in the national lust after UP.
Child labour laws &
After its independence from colonial rule, India has passed a
number of constitutional protections and laws on child labour.
The Constitution of India in the Fundamental Rights and the
Directive of State Policy prohibits child labour below the age of
14 years in any factory or mine or castle or engaged in any
other hazardous employment (Article 24). The constitution also
envisioned that India shall, by 1960, provide infrastructure
and resources for free and compulsory education to all children
of the age six to 14 years. (Article 21-A and Article 45).
The major national legislative developments include the
The Factories Act of 1948: The Act prohibits the employment of children below the
age of 14 years in any factory. The law also placed rules on who, when and how long
can pre-adults aged 15–18 years be employed in any factory.
The Mines Act of 1952: The Act prohibits the employment of children below 18
years of age in a mine.
The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986: The Act prohibits the
employment of children below the age of 14 years in hazardous occupations
identified in a list by the law. The list was expanded in 2006, and again in 2008.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2000: This law made it
a crime, punishable with a prison term, for anyone to procure or employ a child in
any hazardous employment or in bondage.
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009: The law
mandates free and compulsory education to all children aged 6 to 14 years. This
legislation also mandated that 25 percent of seats in every private school must be
allocated for children from disadvantaged groups and physically challenged children.
In 1979, the Indian government formed the
Gurupadswamy Committee to find about child labour
and means to tackle it. The Child Labour Prohibition
and Regulation Act was not enacted based on the
recommendations of the committee in 1986.[citation
needed] A National Policy on Child Labour was
formulated in 1987 to focus on rehabilitating children
working in hazardous occupations. The Ministry
of Labour and Employment had implemented around
100 industry-specific National Child Labour Projects
to rehabilitate the child workers since 1988.
Initiatives against child
Many NGOs like Bachpan Bachao Andolan, CARE India, Child
Rights and You, Global march against child labour, RIDE India etc.
have been working to eradicate child labour in India.
Pratham is India's largest non-governmental organization with
the mission 'every child in school and learning well.' Founded in
1994, Pratham has aimed to reduce child labour and offer
schooling to children irrespective of their gender, religion and
social background. It has grown by introducing low cost
education models that are sustainable and reproducible.
Child labour has also been a subject of public interest litigations
in Indian courts.
CHILD LABOUR: STILL A BIG
Despite a law in force in India, prohibiting child labour, millions
of children to be employed in homes, at roadside restaurants and
in factories across the country. These young kids are also
subjected to exploitation in various other ways, including sexual
and mental abuse.
With June 12 being observed as anti- child labour day, activists
alleged that lack of
enforcement of the Child Labour Act and no rehabilitation has
been fueling child labour.
Forward Steps :
The ideal scenario on Child Welfare would be when every child enjoys the
fullness of childhood through education, recreation and adequate health
facilities. It is impossible to attain these facilities by the child labour. All the
children were able to enjoy the completeness of childhood only :
When the true conscience of the nation is awakened.
When all the policy makers and the bureaucrats take the issue of child
labour seriously and commit themselves to the cause of the holistic
development of every child in India.
When the employees would not even contemplate the idea of
employing a child for any work which might deny the child of a normal
When all Policies laid down by the Government under various Plans and
Laws were implemented properly.
What ‘We’ can do as a person to stop
• To donate funds in NGOs working for the rehabilitation of street
• To contact NGOs and make them aware about child labour
happening in our society.
• To make the rural people aware about the benefits of education.
• To provide free education for the orphans.
• To start campaign against child labour.
• To help the government to stop child labour.
The problem of child labour continues to pose a challenge before
the nation. Government has been taking various pro-active
measures to tackle this problem. However, considering the
magnitude and extent of the problem and that it is essentially a
socio-economic problem inextricably linked to poverty and
illiteracy, it requires concerted efforts from all society to make a
dent in the problem.
The social evil of child labour can be brought under control, if
each individual takes responsibility of prevailing child labour. Each
and every citizen should be aware of their responsibilities and
should take corrective measures to stop child labour, so that we
can have a better and developed India. Child labour can be
controlled if the government functions effectively with the
support of the public.