2. Definition of Child Labour
3. Meaning of Child Labour
4. How many Children work?
5. Child Labour –Denial of Rights
6. Child Labour in India
7. Classification of Child Labour
8. Nature of Child Labour
1) Bonded labour
2) Agriculture sector
4) City street work
9. Sectors of Economy in which Children’s work
1) Manufacturing Sector
2) Agrarian Sector
3) Service Sector
10. Causes of Child Labour
1) Poverty is undoubtedly a dominant factor
2) Schooling problems also contribute to child labour
3) Big families
4) Cheap and safe child labour
11. The other factors responsible for increasing the demand of child labour
12. Consequences of Child Labour
13. Reasons for Economic Exploitation of Children
14. Government of India and Child Labour
15. Constitutional and Legal Safeguards
1) Constitutional provisions
3) Guidelines laid down by the Apex Court to eliminate Child Labour
4) National Child Labour Policy
16. Child Labour Elimination
The definition of child labour varies, but is usually means work done by children under the age of 15 which limits or damages their physical, mental social or psychological development. Some work does not harm children, and may in fact be beneficial for them. However, when we talk about child labour, we are referring to something intolerable - young people simply denied the right to be children.
Definition of a Child
According to the census of India definition, a child worker is one who works for the major part of the day and is below the age of 14 years.
There is no agreement about the definition of the 'child'. The 1989 UN convention on the 'Rights of the Child' sets the upper age at 18. The International Labour Organisation refers to children as those who are under 15 years.
In India, children above the age of 14 years are old enough to be employed. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 defines child as “a person who has not completed his fourteenth year of age.”
Meaning of Child Labour
‘Child Labour’ is defined as any work within or outside the family that involves time, energy, commitment, which affects the ability of a child to participate in leisure, play and educational activities. Such work impairs the health and development of a child.
How many children work?
While it is difficult to get an accurate count because much child labour is hidden or denied by those who profit from it, a conservative estimate would indicate 250 million world¬wide fall into our definition. Of them, 120 million work full time, at the expense of their education, health and development. The rest are said to be combining their employment with other commitments.
If the kids don't work, won't their families starve?
First, it is important to remember that children working in pitiable conditions rarely earn a living wage. Indeed, they are often hired because they earn so little. Sometimes they earn nothing at all, because they come as part of the package with their parents.
Child Labour – Denial of Rights
Child Labour is a concrete manifestation of denial of rights of children. Working children are denied their –
- Right to survival and development,
- Leisure and play,
- Opportunity for developing their physical and mental talents,
- Protection from abuse and neglect.
Child Labour in India
The 1981 census estimated 13.56m children in the workforce, constituting 7.58 per cent of the total child population below the age of 14 years and about 6 per cent of the total labour force in the country.
According to an ILO survey in 1995, in India nearly 15 percent of the children are child labourers.
Child labour makes a very significant contribution in arid and semi arid areas where families have to use maximum resources in traditional rain fed farming system for about 3-4 months during the rainy season. A lot of child labour is used in collection of goods viz., fuel, fodder, minor forest produce etc.
In the 6-14 age group, the number of children out of school was 75m in 1981, of these 65m were rural girls.
According to the provisional figures of Census 2001, out of the total child population of 252 million, 12.5 million children in the age group of 5-14 are working. This is slightly higher than the 11.8 million figure mentioned in the 1991 Census.
Compared to many developing countries, the proportion of working children to the total labor force in India is low. It is 5.2 per cent of the total labor force as compared to 27.3 per cent in Turkey, 20.7 per cent in Thailand, 19.5 per cent in Bangladesh, 18.8 per cent in Brazil, 16.6 per cent in Pakistan, 12.4 per cent in Indonesia, 11.5 per cent in Mexico, 8.2 per cent in Egypt and 6.6 per cent in Argentina.
Classification of Child Labour
Professor D.P Choudhury of the University of Wollongong (Economics Department), Australia has classified working children in India into three categories.
According to him,
1. The first category comprises of about 6 per cent of child labourers who work for wages full time in activities prohibited under anti-child labour laws.
2. The second category of working children constitutes around 14 per cent of child labourers who also work for wages but in activities not prohibited by law.
3. The majority of 80 per cent working children constitute the third category. They are partly or fully employed in family economic enterprises like farms, household industry and petty trades in which they and their parents work jointly.
Nature of Child Labour
Bonded child labour. Bonded labour is one of the worst forms of labour not only for children but also for adults. In India, bonded labour has been illegal since 1976 when Parliament enacted the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act. However, the practice is still widespread. Most of the work carried out by bonded labourers is hard manual labour in the fields or brick kilns. They are, also, mostly the children of parents who belong to scheduled castes and tribes.
The agricultural sector. In India, about 80 percent of child labourers are employed in agriculture and allied occupations. Child labour often assumes serious proportions in commercial agriculture that is associated with global markets for cocoa, coffee, cotton, rubber, sisal, tea etc.
Manufacturing. Most hazardous form of child labour in the manufacturing sector of India includes glass industry, match factories, carpet industry and lock industry.
City street work. There are thousands of children who live and work in the city street of India. The majority of the street children are doing rag picking for their living. Thus, in India children do all kinds of activities. There is no product that has not been scented by the sweat of a child's labour.
Sectors of the Economy in which Children Work
1. Manufacturing Sector
- Match and fire works
- Diamond cutting
- Gem polishing
- Glass and Bangle making industry
- Carpet making
- Stone quarries
- Brick kilns
- Sericulture-silk industry
- Beedi making
2. Agrarian Sector
- · In rural areas children are engaged in agricultural and allied occupations as a part of family labour or as individual workers.
3. Service Sector
- · Self-employed labour
- · Invisible labour
- · Wage-based employment
Causes of Child Labour
There are many socio-economic factors, responsible for the increase of child labour in India:
1. Poverty is undoubtedly a dominant factor: Families below the poverty line force their children into work to supplement their household's meager income. Though, children are not well paid, they still serve as major contributors to family income in developing countries. The combination of poverty and the lack of a social security network form the basis of the even harsher type of child labour - bonded child labour. For the poor, there are few sources of bank loans, credit sources etc. Here enters the local moneylender, for an average of two thousand rupees, parents exchange their child's labour to local moneylenders.
2. Schooling problems also contribute to child labour:. Many a times children seek employment, simply because there is no access to schools. When there is access, the low quality of the education often makes attendance a waste of time for the students. Schools in many developing areas suffer from problems such as overcrowding, inadequate sanitation and apathetic teachers. A major reason that India has the largest child workforce is that 82 million children are not in school.
3. Big families: In most of the rural areas of India there are large families with limited options of income. These big families promote child labour for their livelihood.
4. Cheap and safe child labour: Due to industrialisation and modern scientific technology, the tendency among the employers is to have quicker and greater profits at low costs. Children are paid very low wages and subject to excessive hours of work. Child labour is not only cheap but safe also.
The other factors responsible for increasing the demand of child labour are:
a) Low profitability and productivity of small scale family enterprises that cannot afford adult paid labour and lack of law enforcement
b) Economic and political instability
c) Discrimination and migration
d) Traditional cultural practices
e) Increasing landlessness that has led to dependence on wage and contractual employment
f) Inadequate social protection
g) Children are more pliant and can be moulded easily
h) Children are trouble free and cannot organise agitation, Child labour is, thus, an outcome of economic and social related factors
i) Large families
j) Occupational rigidity of caste system
k) Employment structure in unorganised sector
l) Non-availability and non-accessibility of schools
m) Absence of universal compulsory primary education.
Reasons for Economic Exploitation of Children
Employers believe that children have some of the requisite qualities best suited to their industry. They further believed that:
- Children are quick learners, and pick up skills in doing minute work.
- They do not protest, as they are ignorant about their rights.
- They can be easily manipulated.
- Being ignorant they do not realise the hazards of the job.
- They can be removed as and when their services are not required.
- There maintenance cost is very low.
Consequences of Child Labour
Child labour does more than depriving children of their education, mental and physical development. Immature and inexperienced child labourers may be completely unaware of the short and long term risks involved in their work.
Working for long hours, child labourers are often denied a basic school education, normal social interaction, personal development and emotional support from their family. Besides these problems, children face many physical dangers and death from forced labour.
Government of India and Child Labour
According to Supreme Court 'Child is the Father of the Man'.
The government of India set up a committee headed by Shri M. S. Gurapadaswamy in 1979 to inquire into the causes leading to and problems arising out of employment of children and to suggest suitable measures for their protection and welfare. The committee recognised that a distinction had to be drawn between child labour and its exploitation.
The government formulated the National Policy on child labour and announced the policy in Parliament in August 1987.
Nine projects were started in areas of high concentration of child labour in hazardous work.
1. Match, fireworks and explosives industry in Sivakasi in Virudhnagar district in Tamil Nadu.
2. Precious stone polishing industry in Jaipur in Rajasthan.
3. Glass and bangles industry in Ferozabad in UP.
4. Brassware industry in Moradabad in UP.
5. Handmade carpet industry in Mirzapur, Varanasi and Bhadoi in UP.
6. Lock-making industry in Aligarh in UP.
7. Tile industry in Jaggampet in AP.
8. Slate industry in Markapur in AP.
9. Slate industry in Mandsaur in MP.
Subsequently in 1994, National Child Labour Projects (NCLP) were launched in Sambalpur, Thane and Gharwa. A National Authority on Elimination of Child Labour was set up on 26 September 1994 under the chairmanship of the Union Minister of Labour and with representatives of the ten government departments relevant to the area of child labour, namely, Labour, Education, Welfare, Textile, Health, Family Welfare information and Broadcasting, women and child development, Rural Development, Expenditure etc.
By 1995-96, seventy six NCLPs had been sanctioned including the 12 projects that had been sanctioned earlier. These have opened 1800 special schools under them with about 2500 teachers in which about 1.05 lakh children who had been released from hazardous industries/occupations/ processes have been enrolled. Each school is to run a 3 years cycle. In the 1st two years, functional literacy is to be imparted to bring the children to a level of equivalence with the appropriate level/grade in the formal system of education while the 3ra" year is to be devoted to imparting vocational skill training to the children.
Constitutional and Legal Safeguards
1. Constitutional Provisions
Children are the most vulnerable section of society and thus are at the maximum risk of being economically exploited. The Indian Constitution also gave some of the provisions for the protection of the Children.
1. Fundamental Rights
- Article 21 A : Right to Education
- Article 23(1) : Prohibition of traffic in human being and forced labour
- Article 24 : Prohibition of employment of children in Factories, etc.
2. Directive Principles
- Article 39 : Certain principles of policy to be followed by the state
- Article 45 : Provision for early childhood care and education to children below the age of six
3. Fundamental Duties
- Article 51A(k)
Besides Constitutional provisions there are many legal provisions which had made a golden step for the creation of new world for the children. They have made various provisions for the elimination of the Child Labour in India.
- Factories Act, 1948
- Plantation Labour Act, 1951
- Merchant Shipping Act, 1951
- Mines Act, 1952
- Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961
- Apprenticeship Act, 1961
- Beedi and Cigar Workers (condition of Employment) Act, 1966
- The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976
- Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986
3. Guidelines laid down by the Apex Court to eliminate Child Labour
The Supreme Court in M.C.Mehta v. State of Tamil Nadu (AIR 1997 SC 699) has taken certain pragmatic steps towards effective implementation of the policy. They are:
- 1. Survey for identification of working children
- 2. Withdrawal of children working in hazardous industries and ensuring their education in appropriate institution
- 3. The sum so collected should be deposited in a fund to be known as Child Labour Rehabilitation-cum-Welfare Fund.
- 4. As the aforesaid income would not be enough to dissuade the parent/guardian to seek employment of the child, the state owes a duty to discharge its obligation.
- 5. In cases where it would not be possible to provide a job, the government would, as its contribution grant, deposit in the Fund a sum of Rs. 5000/- for each child employed in a factory or mine or in any other hazardous employment.
- 6. The National Labour Policy announced by the Government of India has already identified some industries for priority action.
The Ministry of Labour is monitoring the implementation of the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
4. National Child Labour Policy
The National Child Labour Policy, 1987 includes the following factors:
- Strict enforcement of the provisions of the Child Labour(Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 and other concerned legislations.
- Rehabilitation of child labour withdrawn from employment.
- Reducing the incidence of child progressively
- Improving health conditions for child labour.
- Intensifying the anti-poverty programmes such as integrated rural development services.
- Focusing on areas known to have high concentration of Chind labour.
- Adopting a project approach to identify, withdraw and rehabilitation working children.
The National Child Labour Projects (NCLP) launched in 1988 are time bound projects. They have key elements such as:
- Stepping up the enforcement of the prohibition of Child labour.
- Providing employment to parents of child labour.
- Raising public awareness.
- Survey and evaluation.
- Expanding formal and non-formal education.
- Promoting school enrolment through various incentives.
Child Labour Elimination
There are problems with the obvious solution of abolishing child labour. There
is no international agreement defining child labour. Countries not only have different minimum age work restrictions, but also have varying regulations based on the type of labour. 1 his makes the limits of child labour very ambiguous. Until there is a global agreement which can isolate cases of child labour, it will be very hard to abolish.
Child labour cannot be eliminated by focusing on one determinant, for example education, or by brute enforcement of child labour laws. Some measures for child labour eradication are:
1. School represents the most important means of drawing children away from the labour market. School provides children with guidance and the opportunity to understand their role in society. Schools must make it worthwhile for children to attend in order to make up for lost earnings.
2. One necessary provision is that these schools be free. Another possibility is that these schools serve food supplements.
3. The quality of education can also be improved so that schooling is considered an important factor in the future success of a child.
4. Provide subsidies to poor families prone to having working children, so that they can afford their children's schooling.
5. Establish partnership of international organisations dedicated to improving children's lives.
6. Social advocacy has a crucial long-term role to play in raising awareness about child labour. Trade unions, media and non-governmental organisations have an important function to identify and bring to public attention problems of child exploitation.
7. Where intolerable categories of child labour have been identified, plans of action for elimination are needed, through an integrated strategy of prevention, regulation and rehabilitation.
8. Raising awareness in society as a whole about the impact of premature child work and by educating consumers to pay attention to basic labour rights when buying products.
Since child labour is a complex problem, a broad range of social sectors and issues other than education would also have to be covered under an effective joint strategy. These include health and poverty alleviation. The purpose of devising these additional social intervention strategies is to facilitate a convergence of services not only for the child workers but also for the family, community and for the overall socio¬economic and cultural environment.
It is an accepted fact that prevention is always better than cure. Therefore, emphasis should be on ensuring basic needs of the child as well as the family and the programs should aim at enhancing the skill and potential capacity of the family.
The Government constituted the NATIONAL AUTHORITY FOR ELIMINATION OF CHILD (NAECL) on September 1994. Its aim is:
- To formulate policies and programmes for elimination of child labour
- To monitor the progress of programmes, projects and schemes and
- To co-ordinate the implementation of child labour related projects of the concered Ministries of the Government of India.
Currently more than 100 projects are functioning in the child labour endemic states of the country.