A Recent Development:

The Concept ‘No Child Labour’ , reminded us of the latest decision of the Labour Ministry, may be in its infinite wisdom, to take two important measures to improve India’s poor child labour record. It has decided to prevent children from selling cold drinks and ice cream. And it insisted that industries where child labour is allowed will have to educate them. Either the babus in the ministry are singularly bereft of ideas or, as is more likely they don’t really care to do anything to end this ugly phenomenon. Let me take the second proposal. Any industry that employs children does so because it wants to cut down on labour costs and because it has scant regard for the law. To ask such an entity to educate the children it employs is no-brainer. But this also means that the government, instead of trying to do away with child labour altogether, is quite content to let some industries use children even though these may not be categorized as hazardous.

Banning children from being sale boys/girl is an extension of an earlier ban on children working in road side hotels and homes. Nothing has been done to implement theses measures. Has the government undertaken any survey of homes or hotels to see whether its instructions have been compiled with? No. Had the government been serious, we would not be a country with not only the largest number of anti-child labour laws but also the largest number of child workers. The old argument that many families cannot do without the income earned by their children, is an admission that welfare policies have not worked in the country. The startling point can only be that making children work in any industry is unacceptable

The India Situation:

Those children periodically rescued also need rehabilitation. We have seen that the failure to integrate them into the mainstream has led to their returning to the workforce. For a country that prides itself on its youth as a valuable resource, India is singularly cavalier about ensuring that our children grow up into healthy and productive adults.

In India, 16% children in the age group of 6-10 are still out of school and 29 million children are engaged in labour against the corresponding global number is 58 million. Generally speaking, anything that harms the children physically, mentally and even morally comes under the category of child labour. There may be many ways to define child labour. However to me, any denial of medical care, adequate food, good education, love, care, protection and finally safe and comfortable home is violation of children’s rights and these denials account to child labour

Census 2001 figures shows that there are approximately 12.6 million, under the age of fourteen, working children in India. But NGOs and social organizations working among the child workers call this figure as an attempt of sweeping the facts under the carpet by the authorities and say that India today has more than four crores child workers. India has second largest child population in the world and her every fifth child is a child laborer. India stands as the sixth dangerous place in the world for children. Besides being sufferers of malnutrition and poverty, and the fact of one child in every two goes hungry, our children also are victims of human trafficking and 40% of trafficked victims are children in India.

Usually the trafficked children end up as bonded labourers, and many of them are abused. Most of them, nearly 80% of them end up in forced labour in agriculture, domestic, factories, dhabas and so on. The brassware industry in the district of Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh has almost 40,000 children who are meagerly paid as low as Rs.174 per month and more or less the same situation exists throughout the country, like the glassware industry at Firozabad, carpet making industries at Mirzapur and Bhadohi districts. Around 23% among the child workers are in the domestic sector while 53% are engaged in street stalls in spite of the existing ban on child labour in this sector. Nearly 30% or 420,000 workers under the age of eighteen are employed in cottonseed farms in India. More than 50% of workers in the bidi rolling business in India are at the age of five and twelve.

There are some 50,000 children working in the fire work and printing industries at Sivakashi in Tamilnadu. The footwear industries at Tamilnadu, Delhi, Agra and Jalandhar employ more than 25,000 children. Almost everywhere in the country from the diamond cutting industries at Surat, construction sites in urban India, pottery industry at Khurja, silk weaving industry at Varanasi, sports goods industry at Meerut and Jalandhar, children are used as cheap labourers. Even in Delhi, under the nose of our netas and babus, children are used in houses, industries and construction activities for Rs.50 a week. These are besides millions of children, who run the households in the rural India, while both parents are away at work.

And the Challenges:

It becomes very shocking and challenging when it is learnt that it is not just the question of just the children are being made to work, but the future of the nation is wrecked for want of responsible adults on whose shoulders mother India can surge ahead. Our struggles for the emancipation of these child labourers from the clutches of trafficking and exploitation will be like the labour pain, for once these children are freed, the pain will turn into joy for having the nation saved towards a secure future

Most probably what we lack today is a collective and collaborative approach in tackling this menace, by all concerned, the Indian State, the society and the people. We have laws to protect our children and policies to ensure their future, but what we lack is a collective approach and joined determination to implement these laws and policies to save our children. A collective action by all of us together will surely arm us for doing justice to the children and to the future of the nation. On this right cause let us call each one as individuals, members of families, societies and representatives of the government to do the followings to take pride in heralding that our nation is a child labour free nation and join hands together by adopting the following policies:

As an Individual:
  Awareness of child labour as a social evil thatdestroys the future of the nation.

Aware of available polices and programs that help eradicate child labour in your area.


Alert about rights and responsibilities of children.


Make firm decision that we will not avail child labour


Speak out against child labour, even if one of your own relatives, friends, church institutions, and neighbors are employing any children.


You should refuse to have food in hotel and dhabas where children are employed


Report child labour to concerned departments and authorities if you across one.


Facilitate child to be safe if you see one in street.

As a Family:


Attentive about parent responsibility


Keep up the sanctity and unity of the family


Extend possible efforts to overcome the children from various frustrations


Stay way from drug addictions and alcoholism

Within the Society and the Government:


Make sure adequate concern for children from the part of government officials who are entrusted with the responsibilities of safeguarding the rights of children.


Polices and programs which are available today regarding protection of children and make them public as much as possible.


Implement compulsory education for children.


Every child’s details should be documented, even if she/he is an orphan or coming from a migrated family


Ensure good health for children.

  Introduce an educational system correspondent to the capacity of children that leads development of skill and encouragement.

Work with likeminded NGOs and Government Agencies in the campaign against child labour


Find out schemes or institute schemes to the families where children are deprived of quality education due to poverty and illiteracy.


Check on and prevent people from trafficking of children.


Publicize and popularize the slogan, ‘Free from Child Labour.


Conduct awareness camps again and again and other programs regularly to highlight the effects of child labour.


Encourage the poverty eradication of policies and ensure intake of nutritive foods like rice grams


Check on social evil like trafficking of women and children, sex tourism, alcoholism, and all discriminations.


Find out root causes of child labour in particular areas.


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