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Friday, September 19, 2014

Child Labour in India

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Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation has said, “If we are to reach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children. And if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won’t have to struggle, we won’t have to pass fruitless, idle resolutions, but we shall go from love to love and peace to peace, until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which, consciously or unconsciously, the whole world is hungering.”

In contrast to the Mahatma’s wishes a very large number of children today, are dying of hunger and an equally large number of children are being routinely harassed and abused in different nooks and corners of the world. Millions of children are working as child labours in hotels, motels, factories, at construction sites, in industries and everywhere.

Who is a Child Labour?
A minor boy or girl, who is employed in a work that may interfere with his / her education or endangers his / her health, is called as a child labour.
Origin of the system of keeping Child Labour

The word ‘child labour’ was formerly applied to the practice of employing minors in factories. Before the introduction of the Factory System, the system of employing children for work was not regarded as a social problem. History reveals that children used to work with their parents in Agriculture fields and on market places throughout the ages and during most of the centuries. It was since the Industrial Revolution that factory owners started employing minor children for long hours and gradually it became a social problem. In the later part of the 18th century, some cruel factory owners of Britain, specially the owners of the cotton mills, employed orphan children and children of poor parents  merely at the cost of food and forced them to work for more than 12 hours a day. During the period, the employment of minor children for long hours was observed in many other countries also. According to a report, about 30 percent of the work force in the factories of the United States was made by child labourers of 7 to 12 years of age, during the early part of the 19th century.

Child Labour in India
According to a general survey, the population of children under the age of 14 in India is estimated to be more than the entire population of the United States. Making nutrition, education and healthcare available to all these children, is a great challenge before the country. The total number of labourer in India comprises about 3.6percent children under the age of 14. About 85 percent of the total child labourers in the country are usually engaged in agricultural activities. The percentage of child labourers working in manufacturing, services and repairs is around 9 percent. About 0.8 percent of the child labourers work in factories. According to the studies carried out by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 1979, more than 50 million children were employed in India to work in various types of organisations and even under hazardous conditions. As per studies of ILO, out of the total 16.5 million child labourers in India, around 20,000 work in match factories alone.
Children have been reported to work as child labourers in mining and quarrying, transport, processing industries, carpet industries, slate and marble industries  and in masonry works. As such, the problem of child labour is a big challenge before the country.

Causes of Child Labour
 Poverty, indebtedness, illiteracy and over population are the root causes of child labour. In fact, the problem of child labour is an International Problem. It exists in all those areas where populations of the poor live under acute hardships. Thus the problem is seen in acute form in specific areas of developed countries of Europe and the United States also.

How to solve the problem of Child Labour?
            The Directive Principles of the State Policy (Article 39) enshrined in the Constitution of India direct the state –
·           that the health and strength of workers -men and women and tender aged children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age and strength;
·           that children re given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that children and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment

Various national and International organisations as well as governments of many countries are inclined to eliminate the problem of child labour through their own ways. Social Reformers have already been trying to change the mindset of societies so as to eliminate this problem. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) was founded in 1919. It is now an important agency of the United Nations. It has introduced a number of Child Labour Conventions so far. But, it is up to the member countries to enforce rules to check the problem.

India enacted Children (Pledging of Labour) Act for the first time in February 1933. After that, it passed the Employment of Children Act in 1938. Further, the government passed much additional legislation to offer legal protection to children. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 was passed by the Indian Government to regulate services of children in non-hazardous occupations. This Act bans the employment of children of less than 14 years of age in specified occupations and processes. On December 11, 1992; India acceded to the ‘Convention on the Rights of Child’. The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted this convention on 20 November, 1989. This convention has 54 Articles in Three Parts. According to the ratification – India will ensure wide awareness about issues relating to children among government agencies, implementing agencies, the media, the Judiciary, the Public and children themselves.

The Child Labour Policy of India
The Government of India adopted a National Child Labour Policy in 1987 in accordance with the provisions made in its constitution and various legislations made from time to time. The Central Government has started a National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme for covering 150,000 children. About 105, 000 children have already been enrolled in Special Schools for their free education and Training. So far, the project has been started in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh in special areas. A Central Advisory Board on Child Labour was also constituted on March 4, 1981.

Key Words: Child Labour,hotels, factories, NCLP

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