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India should take its Child Labour Problem Seriously

  • Published
    19th Nov, 2022
Context

Recently, according to a British newspaper, a child labor warning has been issued by trade unions over the India-UK trade deal which got overlooked in India.

About

Child labour statistics for India:

  • Every 1 in 10 child labourers worldwide is from India.
  • Girls are the most affected.
  • Child labour is most prevalent in five regions (census 2011)namely, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

What is Child Labour?

  • Child labour refers to the employment of children in any work that deprives them of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful.

Where are these child labourers deployed?

  • Bonded labour, child soldiers, and trafficking.
  • Industrial labour: In brick kilns, carpet weaving, garment making, domestic service, food and refreshment services (such as tea stalls), agriculture, fisheries and mining.
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Production of child pornography

Factors responsible for Child labour:

Consequences associated:

  • Poverty
  • Social norms condoning them
  • Lack of decent work opportunities for adults and adolescents,
  • Migration and emergencies
  • Risks of contracting occupational diseases like skin diseases, diseases of the lungs, weak eyesight, TB etc.
  • Vulnerability to sexual exploitation at the workplace
  • Deprived of education.
  • Threat to National Economy
  • Child labour in the informal sector
  • Disguised child labour

What are the loopholes in the system functioning against Child Labour in India?

  • Lack of Coordination between Centre and States
  • Increasing instances of Child Trafficking
  • The debate over the Age criteria for Child labour related crimes and delay in justice delivery
  • Addressing loopholes in Poverty alleviation schemes and Increasing Population in India.
  • Increasing Unemployment and Informal sector jobs.
  • Lack of regulations in the informal sector as children is mostly employed in those sectors.

Policy interventions against Child labour in India:

  • Child Labour Act (Prohibition and Regulation) 1986: It prohibits children under the age of 14 years to be working in hazardous industries and processes.
  • Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Act 2016: It prohibits the employment of children below 14 years in all employment and with the provisions for the prohibition on employment of adolescents (14-18 Years) in scheduled hazardous occupations and processes.
  • The Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Rules, 2017:The Rules provide a broad and specific framework for the prevention, prohibition, rescue and rehabilitation of child and adolescent workers. It also clarifies issues related to helping in family and family enterprises and the definition of family with respect to children, specific provisions have been incorporated into rules.
  • Policy interventions such asMGNREGA 2005 and Right to Education Act 2009 and Mid-Day Meal Scheme have paved the way for children to be in schools along with guaranteed wage employment (unskilled) for rural families.

Constitutional Provisions for Child Upliftment:

  • Article 21 A: ‘Right to Education: The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of 6 to 14 years in such manner as the State, by law, may determine.
  • Article 24: Prohibition of employment of children in factories
  • No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed in work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.
  • Article 39: The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing, that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength.

Why role of Panchayats becomes significant to eradicate child labour?

  • Approximately 80% of child labourers in India have roots in rural areas. The panchayats can play a significant role in mitigating child labour.
  • Role of panchayat members in mitigating child labour
  • Generate awareness about the ill effects of child labour
  • Encourage parents to send their children to school
  • Create an environment where children stop working and get enrolled in schools instead
  • Ensure that children have sufficient facilities available in schools
  • Inform industry owners about the laws prohibiting child labour and the penalties for violating these laws
  • Activate Balwadis and Aanganwadis in the village so that working mothers do not leave the responsibility of younger children to their older siblings
  • Motivate Village Education Committees (VECs) to improve the conditions of schools

Suggestive measures:

  • Survey of child labour: It is necessary that the government commissions research and surveys on different aspects of child labour in the country.
  • New Policy for Child Labour: A lot of changes have been done since the child labour policy in 1986. But a further relook of all the laws and policies is urgently needed. Consistency in the constitutional and legal provisions pertaining to children’s rights is critical and required.
  • National Child Labour Programme (NCLP): The current National Child Labour Programme (NCLP) needs to be revamped.

Social Mobilisation: Given that eradication of child labour is not an easy task, preventive strategies are more sustainable in the long run. The role of social mobilization and community participation is crucial.

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