708 words essay on Child Labour in India

1. Introduction

Child labourers are exploited, exposed to hazardous work conditions and paid a pittance for their long hours of work. They belong to the unorganized labour force. The Constitution of India says that:

Child labourers are exploited, exposed to hazardous work conditions and paid a pittance for their long hours of work. They belong to the unorganized labour force. The Constitution of India says that:

(a) No child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any hazardous employment (Article 24)

(b) Childhood and youth are to be protected against exploitation and against moral and material aban­donment (Article 39 (f)).

(c) The State shall endeavour to provide within a period of 10 year from the commencement of the Constitution free and compulsory education for all children until they have completed the age of 14 years (Article 45).

A survey conducted by a research group sponsored by the Ministry of Labour, Government of India (Joshi, 1986) has reported that of the estimated 102.3 million households in the country, 34.7% had working children.

Seventy nine per cent working children are in the rural areas. Two thirds of the working children belong to the 12-15 years age-group and the rest are below 12 years. A survey conducted by the Operations Research Group (ORG) Baroda (Vadodara) in 1985 had put the figure of working children at 44.5 million.

2. Nature of Child Work

A majority of the working children are found in rural area. In urban areas, they are found in canteens/restau­rants, or are found engaged in picking rags and hawking goods on foot-path. But some children are working in highly hazardous conditions.

For examples fireworks and match box units in Sivakasi in Ramanathapuram district in Tamil Nadu employ 45,000 children. A large number of children are working in stone polishing units in Jaipur, brassware industry in Moradabad, lock making units in Aligarh, Slate- industry in Markapur (Andhra Pradesh), Mandsaur (Madhya Pradesh) and the carpet-making in Jammu and Kashmir.

3. Government’s Policies for Enacting Lass against Child Labor

The first Act to regulate the employment of children and their hours of work was the Factory Act of 1881. A Commission was established in 1929 to fix the minimum age of child employment, on whose recommendation, the Child Labour Act 1933 was passed prohibiting employment of children below 14 yeas of age.

The Factory Act of 1948 provided some safeguards to child labourers. In 1986, the Parliament enacted the Child Labour Act (Regulation and Prohibition), planning the employment of children in certain jobs and regulating the condition of work in hazardous occupations. The Juvenile Justice Act came into force on October 2, 1987 after superseding different Children's Act of different States/UTs.

India has ratified six ILO conventions relating to labour and three of them as early as in the first quarter of the 20th century. Through a Notification dated 27 January 1999, the Schedule to the Child Labour (Prohibi­tion and Regulation) Act, 1986, has been substantially enlarged bringing the total number of occupations and processes listed in the Schedule 13 and 51 respectively.

The National Policy on Child Labour was formulated in 1987 which enforces legal actions to protect the interests of children, makes development programmes for the benefit of child labour and projects based plan of action in the areas of high concentration of child labour. National Child Labour Projects (NCLP) has been set up to rehabilitate child labour.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in their meeting on January 20, 1999 approved continuance of the scheme of National Child Labour Project (NCLP) during the Ninth Plan. The CCEA also approved the increase in the number of such projects from 76 to 100.

The Government's commitment to address the problem of child labour is reflected in the statement of National Agenda for Governance (1998), where it says that no child should remain illiterate, hungry/lack medical care and that measures will be taken to eliminate child labour.

The Supreme Court of India in its judgement dated December 10, 1986 has directed to pay compensation of Rs 20,000 by the offending employers for every child employed in hazardous occupations. Efforts will be made to modify the existing National Child Labour Project under the Ninth Plan.