Causes, Problems and Solutions of Child Labour in India Essay

Causes, Problems and Solutions of Child Labour in India Essay

Child labour in India essay: Child Labour is an illegal activity to force minors under the age of 14 years to a professional job. It is a serious crime being commended throughout the world.  Poverty, inequality, social discrimination and lack of elementary school education in India are the root causes of child labour in India.  The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has reported that almost 160 million children were subjected to child labour at the beginning of 2020, which accounts for nearly 1 in 10 children worldwide. This article on child labour will include child labour in India essay in 500 words for upcoming competitive exams like UPSC, SSC exams, State PSC.

Child Labour Introduction

Child labour is called to the employment of children in any work. Children being deprived by child labour loses their childhood, their right to go to school, contribute to the economy of a nation. Besides these, child labour affects mentally, physically, socially or morally. The Constitution of India stated that no children, below the age of 14 years, shall not be employed to work in any factory or mine or any other hazardous employment. But in rural India, it is common to see children of poor families are working in fields or elsewhere to contribute to the family income. These children are deprived of educational opportunities and lost in the depth of poverty.

What is Child Labour?

The term “child labour” is defined as a type of work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential & their dignity, and the work which is harmful to the development of physical and mental health of the children. It refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially dangerous & harmful to children; and also disturbs their school education by depriving them of the opportunity to go to school; obliging them to leave school prematurely.

Causes of Child Labour

Children should belong to schools, not to workplaces. Child labour seduces children from their Right to Education and reinforces intergenerational cycles of illiteracy. There are many reasons for child labour and exploitation:

  • Poverty: Poverty is considered to be the most vital cause of child labour. Poverty leads to growth as unskilled workers and enables a person to earn low wages in adulthood. So, parents force their children to go to work to increase the volume of income. Thus, a child-labour trap is formed. Due to getting involved in a job, these children loses the opportunity for education, which reflects in the literacy rate of India.
  • Condoning Social Norms: Many households, factories, mines exploits children as workers with low wages. For decades after decades, this phenomenon has been accepted in society, silently.
  • Lack of Decent Work Opportunities: With the equipment of advanced machinery throughout the world, adults are losing their source of income. Then, they force their children to go for income, even at low wages.
  • Migration and Child Labour: Many countries in the world have refugees in their areas. These refugees are poor enough to feed themselves. So, children from these families make habits to carry out labour to contribute to their family income.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic: The COVID-19 pandemic may potentially reverse the positive trends of the fight against child labour. Fall in living standards, the deteriorating condition of employment, rise in informality, reduction in remittances and migration, contraction of trade, temporary closure of schools, etc. are the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Types of Child Labour

  • Child Labour: Child Labour deprives the potential, dignity of children. It is harmful mentally, physically, and dangerous to interfere with basic education. For example, Working in factories, dhaba, restaurants.
  • Forced Child Labour: This kind of child labour extracts all the energy of children and harm the health, safety or morals of children. Working in agriculture, carpet weaving, automobile workshops, mining, stone/marble cutting, pesticide factory, deep fishing, glass factory, etc. are some of the hazardous jobs, that children are forced to do.
  • Worst Form of Child Labour: It counts slavery, illicit activities, child prostitution, arms conflict, etc. Children from different countries are trafficked secretly or separated from their families forcefully for these hazardous and ill-minded labour activities.

Why should child labour be eliminated and how?

Negative effects of child labour:

  • Health issues: The harsh working conditions create several problems in children such as premature ageing, malnutrition, depression, drug consumption etc.
  • Forced for labour: Many children are abducted from their families due to disadvantaged backgrounds, minority groups. These children have no protection. They are transformed into obedient slaves. Their employers make them completely invisible to avoid punishment.
  • Illiterate labours: Child labours lack a normal school education and are doomed to illiteracy. So, there is no possibility to grow due to lack of education.
  • Sexual exploitation: Many children, especially girls, are trafficked for sexual exploitation such as prostitution and child pornography.
  • Numb slaves: A child, who becomes a victim of child labour, faces physical, mental, and sexual violence. These tortures made them numb slaves ready to obey his or her masters’ orders.

Child Labour in India:

History of Child Labour in India:

In the historical and sociological documentation of early Indian civilisation, the upbringing of children for labour is found. They were brought on account of caste, kinship, age, gender, etc. Rulers like Chandragupta Vikramaditya, Ashoka tried to control it by propounding moral edicts in which obedience towards parents and respect for elders was praised. However, the point to show loyalty and obedience to one’s elders was moral, socially approved and valued behaviour. Later, the Arabs, Turks, Afghans and the Mughals invaded India and forced people to impoverish and degenerate. The foreign invasions have destroyed the wealth and socio-cultural ethics of India. Due to the economic deterioration, the children too faced adverse vicissitudes along with the adults. Families were unable to afford wholesome food and amenities for their families and children. Emphasis on elementary education faded away with time. Elementary education was restricted to the higher castes in society. Girls get an education hardly in comparison to boys. No one took any remedial steps.

Constitutional And Legal Provisions:

Some child labour laws mentioned in the Constitution of India:

Article 23 of the Indian Constitution states “Traffic in human beings and begar and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.

Article 24 of the Indian Constitution states “No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.”

Article 39 of the Indian Constitution states “children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.

Children’s rights are defined in two general types:

Right of Empowerment: Persons advocating for children as autonomous persons

Right to Protection: Persons claiming to protect children from harm because of their dependency.

The Constitution of India has protected the rights of children by the fundamental rights and freedoms. But, It has been observed especially in rural India that, representatives of various industries induces children with promises of jobs and wealth and bring them to employ as bonded labour in factories. Many children are also employed in many households for domestic help. But, they are paid minimum wages against tiresome physical works.

International Labour Organization (ILO) stated that there are around 12.9 million Indian children between the ages of 7 to 17 years old engaged in work. Millions of Indian girls and boys are trapped in the cycle of poverty due to child labour and are less likely to attend school. The majority of these children are between 12 and 17 years of age and work up to 16 hours a day on a regular basis. According to the Census of India 2011 reports, 10.1 million children in the age group of 5-14 years are the victims f child labour, out of whom 8.1 million are in rural areas engaged in cultivation (26%) and agricultural labour (32.9%). If we measure the exact scale of child labour in India, it is difficult to find the exact number as it is often hidden and under-reported. Around 18 million children in India are considered “inactive”. These children are involved neither in any kind of employment nor in school. These missing girls and boys are potentially subject to some of the worst forms of child labour.

According to ILO’s study, about 71% of the world’s child labours are found in the agriculture sector, including cotton and rice fields. Around 17% of child labours in the world are employed as service staff, and another 12% of child labour is spread across hazardous jobs like in the industry sector, minefields.

These child labourers in India are working for starvation wages in steel factories for steel extraction, textile factories, carpet manufacturing and processing, in brick-making factories and quarries, selling cigarettes and “Bidis” on the street. A huge number of girls are victims of child trafficking rackets in India, whether through traditional bondage or organized crime. The commercial sexual exploitation of children is one of the worst forms of child labour as well as crime. In India, there are around 1.2 million children involved in it.

Child Labour Facts

  • Currently, there are nearly 30 million people held in slavery and an estimated 26 percent are children.
  • 1 in 10 child labourers worldwide is from India.
  • According to UNICEF, Girls are the most affected.
  • Some child labours work 13 hours a day and get pay of 50 Rs a day.
  • The highest numbers of child labourers are in Asia.

How To Stop Child Labour: The Indian Government has enacted the Child Labour (Regulation and Prohibition) Act, 1986 prohibiting dangerous activities harmful to the mental, spiritual, moral or social development of children under the age of 14-15. However, child labour continues for many reasons. The Right to Education Act 2009 and the Mid Day Meal Scheme have paved the way for children for school education along with guaranteed employment for their families in rural areas. In 2006 and again in 2016, the laws against child labour were tightened to ensure that children under the age of 14 were strictly prohibited from working as domestic help or as service staff.

How To Prevent Child Labour?

There are some international and national laws for the prevention of child labour.

International Law and Convention:

The Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights by the United Nations’ 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the first legally binding international instrument.

National Laws and Steps:

The Factories Act, 1948 prohibits the employment of children 14 years of age in any factory.

The Mines Act, 1952 prohibits the employment of children below 18 years of age in a mine.

The employment of children below the age of 14 years has been prohibited by the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986.

Bonded labour system abolition Act, 1976 prohibits all forms of bonded labour including children from any forced labour and considers bonded forced work with less than minimum wages as an offence.

National Policy on Child Labour, 1987 adopts an approach to rehabilitation of child labours and strictly enforced Indian laws on child labour combined with development programs to the root causes of child labour. Despite these efforts, child labour remains a major challenge to India.

The Right to Education was first officially documented, based on the Ramamurti Committee Report in 1990.

In 1999, the Tapas Majumdar Committee comprehended the insertion of the Right to Education in Article 21A (Fundamental Right).

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2000 has made child labour a punishable offence with imprisonment.

The 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002 has provided the Right to Education as a fundamental right in the Constitution of India.

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009 has provided free and compulsory education to children of 6 to 14 years of age as a Fundamental Right.

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) has provided children, below the age of 18 years, protection from offences like sexual harassment, sexual assault and pornography in the interest and well-being of children. In 2019, it was amended to provide more stringent punishment including the death penalty to these crimes.

In 2002, India has also signed two SOUTH ASIAN ASSOCIATION FOR REGIONAL COOPERATION (SAARC) Conventions to combat child trafficking.

Some Important Child Labour Reports:

  • UK-based NGO Save the Children releases Global Childhood Report based on 8 indicators: Adolescent Births, Child homicide, Child labour, displacement by conflict, Early marriage, Lack of education, malnutrition that stunts growth.
  • World Business Council for Sustainable Development publishes the Child Labour Index to indicate the risk of employment of children to the business in violation of international law.
  • Child Health Task Force releases the End of Childhood Index Ranking 2021. India has ranked 118th among 186 countries.
  • International Labour Organization has declared 2021 as the ‘International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour’. ILO has marked 12 June as the World Day Against Child Labour since 2002.

Child Labour Solutions

Here are some ways to provide solutions for child labour

  • Awareness about child labour must be spread in our society.
  • Child labour prevention laws should be stringent.
  • Government has to make sure that all children in India are getting their primary education in schools.
  • There are many Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) dedicated to preventing child labour. They help the administration to rescue children from the darkness of child labour in India.
  • Telephone Helpline – Call 1098: 1098 is a toll-free number and it operates across India. It is operated by Childline India Foundation which works for child rights and child protection. Anyone, including children themselves, can call and give information on this number.
  • PENCIL Portal: PENCIL is an online platform developed by the Ministry of Labour and Employment with an aim in the effective enforcement of the no child labour policy. The portal was launched in 2017. PENCIL stands for Platform for Effective Enforcement for No Child Labour.

Moreover, it can be said that awareness in every person can eradicate the problems of child labour.

Conclusion of Child Labour: Child labour in India Essay

The covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the existing issues of social inequality, poverty, caste discrimination and lack of school education. Universal elementary education, as well as economic security for the underprivileged sector, should be the focused area in the post-pandemic time for the Government of India. It is a moral duty of the government and all the citizens in India to take the necessary steps to eradicate child labour.

“180 million kids are engaged in the worst forms of child labour. Put it all together and it is not only morally unacceptable but politically dangerous.”

                                                                                                                                – Juan Somavia

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“A child is meant to learn, not to earn.”

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