Child Labour in India

Child labour has become a major problem in the world as it affects the children both emotionally and physically and it also threatens the children’s future. Child labour, not only in India, but also in other developing countries, is a huge issue. Because of poverty, it is widely common in many developing countries. It is a major social problem because children are a nation’s promise and future. There have been plenty of legislation introduced to prohibit child labour but they are unsuccessful. According to 2017 statics India has a whopping 33 million children working in different forms of child labour, becoming one of the leading countries in Asia.

Strength of Child Labourers in India:

According to the ILO, some 12.9 million Indian children are engaged in work in between ages of 7-17. They are much less likely to go to school or attend only intermittently when children are appointed or doing unpaid work, trapping them in the cycle of poverty. Hundreds of thousands of Indian girls and boys go to work in quarries and warehouses every day, or to sell cigarettes on the highway. Most of these children are between the ages of 12 and 17, who work up to 16 hours a day to help their families accomplish their ends. But child labour in India can begin even earlier with an estimated 10.1 million children aged 5 to 14 involved in work.

India can wipe out child labour with proper laws | Deccan Herald

As children get older, they also become more involved in employment. In India 20 per cent of all children between the ages of 15 and 17 are active in unsafe industry sectors. It is difficult to calculate the exact extent of child labor in India, since it is still concealed and underreported. In India, there are nearly 18 million children between the ages of 7 and 17 who are considered “unavailable,” neither in employment nor in school. Such missing girls and boys in India may undergo some of the worst forms of child labour.

Forms of Child Labour:

According to an ILO study, the majority of child labor in the world (around 71 per cent) is done in agricultural sector, including cotton fields and paddy fields. Approximately 17 percent are hired as service staff, mainly as farm servants or in restaurants, and another 12 percent of child labour, is spread across jobs in the industry sector including hazardous mining activities.

Many child labourers in India are employed in textile factories for starvation wages, helping with carpet manufacturing, or doing back-breaking work in factories and quarries for brick making. Other child labourers compete for the tobacco industry on the street selling cigarettes, called “Bidis.” Throughout industries such as steel mining, gem polishing, and carpet making, children are also used for cheap labour. A shocking number of girls are victims of Indian sex trafficking, be it by conventional slavery or criminal enterprises. Children’s commercial sexual abuse is one of the worst forms of child labour, and trafficking includes around 1.2 million children in India.

Causes of Child Labour:

Notwithstanding India’s recent economic growth, over one third of all Indians tend to live below the poverty line. The IT sector’s technological advances and improvements have not produced jobs in poverty-stricken regions. People from rural areas with little schooling frequently see little choice but to take their kids off school and put them to work to help feed their families. Because of the dire situation of many families, children are being sold to child traffickers by their fathers and mothers or parents abandoning their children in the countryside while they are looking for work in a big city. These children are most vulnerable and are often abused by traffickers who force the boys and girls to work for very low salaries or absolutely nothing.

Laws present to fight Child Labour:

In 1993, the Indian Government passed a new law against child labour banning hazardous work or practices that could impact girls and boys under the age of 18 to the psychological, spiritual, moral or cultural wellbeing. Child labour, however, persists for a variety of reasons, for example people manipulate loopholes in legislation that allow children to be hired if the job is part of a family business. So having kids selling cigarettes on the street might be considered legal if it’s part of a family business. Additionally, many business leaders, such as mine owners, hold political office and have significant influence. Industries might not want to bar cheap labour from their business operations.

The laws against child labour were reinforced in 2006 and again in 2016 to guarantee that children under the age of 14 were forbidden to work in restaurants and hotels as domestic aid or service staff. Nevertheless, child labour remains permissible in family businesses. Furthermore, the rule does not extend to 15 to 17 year-olds who are only restricted to do “dangerous” work.

Steps to resolve the problem of Child Labour:

In the political system much more needs to be done to prevent exploitative child labour in India: the laws against child labour must be further stiffened and implemented more strictly. Furthermore, fighting poverty and hunger, a root cause of child labour, is important. Acknowledging poverty and inequality is crucial for putting an end to child labour.

It is also vital that access to education breaks the intergenerational cycle of poverty and child labour. Once children achieve higher educational rates, they are more likely to find decent paying jobs at adulthood and can use their income to provide for themselves and their families without depending on child labour.