The Reality Of The Practice Of Child Labour In India

Published on September 3, 2020

Stop Child Labour In India

Nearly 33 million children between the ages of 6 and 18 work as child labourers in India, according to the National Census 2011. The majority of child labourers—around 80%—live in rural areas. According to the Census report, 1 in 11 working people in India are children between the ages of 5 and 18 years old, which shows what a deplorable future awaits innumerable children in India.

What is the meaning of child labour?

International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines child labour as ‘work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development’. It refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially, or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and interferes with their schooling. According to the Indian legislation, ‘child’ is anyone who has not completed 14 years of age and ‘adolescent’ is anyone who has completed their 14th year of age but is below 18 years. This law divides work into hazardous and non-hazardous categories as identified by the Technical Advisory Committee constituted under the Act. The Schedule to the Act enlists 38 occupations and processes as ‘hazardous’ and 69 others which are non-hazardous.

Is child labourillegal in India?

In 1992, when India ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), a reservation was made in Article 32, wherein the Government of India articulated that it would progressively ban all forms of child labour. After nearly three decades since the child labour law came into force, India has the opportunity to amend the law in favour of its children. Since India’s legal system gives basis to the assumption that children can work and still get an education, the new Child Labour Act allows children under the age of 14 to work in family occupations after school hours. However, when only 49% of working children between the ages of 5-14 and 17% between 15-18 years parallelly attend school – the numbers completely contradict the above assumption and leave a glaring gap in the prohibition of child labour.

How does child labour affect the nation?

Children engaged in child labour are robbed of a happy childhood as well as the fun, learning experiences in their formative years. A majority of child labourers leave behind the path of education and compromise on becoming literate individuals. Leaving school behind, they become fully absorbed in the practice, so much so that they are unable to develop new skills and qualifications that are required to get into gainful employment roles. This way, India is losing out on an educated and skilled workforce that is required to propel our country’s economic growth and progress to greater heights. Not only do these children miss out on childhood and education but also suffer from numerous health issues by engaging in hazardous occupations. This socially unacceptable practice also dents our country’s socio-economic standing.

How can child labour be stopped?

Our society has, somehow, accepted and tolerated child labour as a social norm. It is only when we as a society adopt a zero-tolerance attitude towards this exploitative and abusive practice can we put an end to it. Rescuing these children is not the only solution - it requires a multi-pronged approach, one incorporated by CRY NGO.

In 2019-20, CRY protected children in 149 villages from child labour in India by creating awareness about the ill-effects of child labour and connecting communities to government schemes and benefits like MNREGA job opportunities. Donate now to help child labourers go to school instead of work.