Child labour takes place when children forced to work at an age when they expected to work. Study and enjoy their phase of innocence. It implies lost or deprived childhood that leads to exploitation. Of children in various forms: mental, physical, social, sexual and so on.
The society, voluntary organizations and law-makers have an obligation to put an end to the evil practice of child labour in India.
Child labourers have toil long hours to eke out a living for themselves and support their families. Exploitation becomes a way of life for them and becomes very harmful to physical and mental development. They forced to inhabit an adult world, shoulder adult responsibilities, and suffer extreme exploitation.
Despite legislation banning child labour, its not been possible to completely stop the practice of hiring children as labour across the world. India no exception to employment of children as labour; rather the country employs the largest number of child labourers in the world.
Causes of Child Labour:
Poverty, social inequality and lack of education among is the main cause of child labour. According to a UNICEF report, in rural and impoverished parts of the world, children have no real and meaningful alternative. As schools and teachers are not available. Many communities, particularly rural areas do not have adequate school facilities. Even the availability and quality of schools is very low.
Also, the low paying informal economy thrives upon the low cost, easy to hire, easy to dismiss labour in the form of child labour. After the unorganized agriculture sector which employs 60% of child labour, children are employed in unorganized trade, unorganized assembly and unorganized retail work. Other contributory factors to child labour include inflexibility and structure of India’s labour market, size of informal economy, inability of industries to scale up and lack of modern manufacturing technologies.
Bonded child labour in India:
Under this system, the child, or usually child’s parent enter into an agreement. Wherein the child performs work as in-kind repayment of credit. Though India passed the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act of 1976 prohibiting solicitation or use of bonded labour including children, the practice of bonded child labour has not ceased.
Consequences of Child Labour:
Child labour inflicts damage to a child’s physical and mental health. A child labourer has no basic rights to education, development, and freedom. Children employed as labourers work in unsafe environments where there is a constant danger of fatal accidents. They forced to lead a life of poverty, illiteracy, and deprivation. They required to perform gruelling and physically demanding tasks and in return receive only meagre wages. Poor working conditions cause severe health problems to such children. A child labourer not just suffers physical and mental torture but also becomes mentally and emotionally mature too fast which is never a good sign.
Various laws but no implementation:
Apart from the enactment of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, the Indian Constitution has incorporated various provisions against child labour such as the following:
- According to Article 24, no child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or in any hazardous employment (but not in non-hazardous industries).
- As per Article 39(f)), childhood and youth are to be protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.
- Article 45 stipulates that the state shall endeavour to provide within a period of 10 years from the commencement of the Constitution free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of 14 years.
The Factories Act of 1948 prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in any factory. The Mines Act of 1952 prohibits the employment of children below 18 years of age in a mine. Also, various laws and the Indian Penal Code, such as the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act-2000, and the Child Labour (Prohibition and Abolition) Act-1986 seek to prevent the practice of child labours in India. Unfortunately, these laws and regulations have not backed by effective and proper implementation and enforcement.
Collective efforts needed on the part of society. And the government to put an end to the practice of child labour. In fact, every citizen should take a pledge to never employ child labourer, rather discourage others too from doing so. We should create awareness amongst people employing child labourers and the parents sending their children to work. We need to provide our children a happy childhood. Where they are able to enjoy the best period of their lives with a merry and carefree attitude.
The government should make efforts to increase the incomes of parents by launching various development schemes. Efforts made towards poverty eradication combined with educational reforms to provide free or affordable access to quality education. Only by taking comprehensive steps, the Government can hope to eliminate all forms of child labours by 2020.