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Centre has no new data on child labour

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    22nd Jul, 2022

Context

Centre does not have any data on child labour in the country and a reason for this is the drying up of budgetary provisions meant for the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) scheme.

Background

  • The Labour Ministry has told the Parliament Standing Committee on Labour that since the NCLP was merged with the SamagraShikshaAbhiyan in 2016, the Ministry has no records of child labour.
  • The currently available data is from the 2011 Census, which says the country has more than a million child labourers.
According to data from Census 2011, the number of child labourers in India is 10.1 million of which 5.6 million are boys and 4.5 million are girls. A total of 152 million children – 64 million girls and 88 million boys – are estimated to be in child labour globally, accounting for almost one in ten of all children worldwide.

Analysis

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.

Facts to better understand child labour in India:

  • 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

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

Side-effects

  • 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
  • Child trafficking
  • Social inequalities and discrimination

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.

Legal provisions and policy interventions:

  • Child Labour Act (Prohibition and Regulation) 1986: It prohibits children under the age of 14 years to be working in hazardous industries and processes.

ILO core conventions related to Child Labour:

  • There are eight Core Conventions of the ILO. The two Core Conventions directly related to child labour of ILO are
    • Conventions 138 regarding admission of age to employment
    • Convention 182 regarding worst forms of Child Labour.
  • India has ratified both the Core Conventions.
  • 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 the 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 on issues related to help in family and family enterprises and the definition of family with respect to child, specific provisions have been incorporated into rules.
  • Policy interventions such as MGNREGA 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.

National Child Labour Project SCHEME:

  • The government initiated the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme in 1988 to rehabilitate working children in 12 child labour endemic districts of the country.
  • This is the major Central Sector Scheme for the rehabilitation of child labour.
  • The Scheme seeks to adopt a sequential approach with a focus on the rehabilitation of children working in hazardous.
  • Project Societies at the district level are fully funded for the opening up of special schools/Rehabilitation Centres for the rehabilitation of child labour.
  • The special schools/Rehabilitation Centres provide:
    • Non-formal/bridge education
    • Skilled/vocational training
    • Mid-Day Meal
    • Stipend @ Rs.150/- per child per month.
    • Health care facilities through a doctor appointed for a group of 20 schools.

At present, about 6000 special schools are in operation under the NCLP scheme. To date, more than 10 lakhs of children have been mainstreamed into the formal education system under the Scheme.

Why role of Panchayats becomes significant to eradicate child labour?

Approximately 80% of child labourers in India have roots in from rural areas. The panchayats can play a significant role in mitigating in 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

Child Development in 11th Five Year Plan 2007 to 2012: The child development approach in the Eleventh Plan is to ensure that children do not lose their childhood because of work, disease, and despair. It is based on the understanding that the rights of all children, including those who do not face adverse circumstances, must be protected everywhere and at all times so that they do not fall out of the social security net.

Required 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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