Children have the right to be protected from all deceitful and endangered situations, but that is possible only if you make yourself aware of the real problems and risks that children face, then we can avail the remedies, laws and policies to change the situation in the best interest of children. A child may need legal help and protection. Outlast legal action when a child needs it the most is a common mistake all of us often tend to make. It plays a vital role in accrediting women and in the protection of children from exploitative child labour as well as sexual exploitation. An individual often being educated and with an active mind has the capacity to saunter freely and widely and can exercise human rights and consider the value of human existence. A country like India is considered a home for the highest number of children in the world. The child who lives in rural areas is getting free and compulsory education, which seems to be very important during this stage of their life.
Legal Definition of Child
The term Child is not defined in the Indian Constitution, but According to Article 1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, a “child means each and every human being below the age of 18 years unless, under the law applicable to the child, the majority is attained earlier.” There is numerous legislation in India that defines the term ˜Child depending upon the purpose.”
- Under the Indian Majority Act,1875 the age of majority is 18 years & in case of a minor for whose person & property a guardian is appointed or whose property is under the supervision of the Court of Wards the age of majority 21 years.
- Under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulations) Act, 1986, a child means a person who has not completed his 14 years of age.
- Under the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1926, a child means a person who, if a male, has not completed twenty-one years of age and, if a female, has not completed eighteen years of age.
- Under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000, â Juvenile means a person who has not completed the eighteenth year of age.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child incorporates children’s civil and political rights social, economic and cultural rights & protection rights The children are one of the greatest gifts of God to man, our most precious and important assets. The welfare and development of any child depend largely on health and well being. It has been said who hold eagerness of the children holds the nation.
Major Child Issues in India
- Child marriage
- Child labour
- Gender inequality
- Child trafficking
- Girl Child
Child Labour in India
Child labour in India is the biggest obstacle to the development of the country. The purpose of writing an article on child labour in India is to show how our future is being deprived of education. Due to a lack of information about the importance of education, parents encourage their children to work in extreme conditions. In this topic, we will learn about child labour in India and steps that should be taken to stop child labour in India and all other countries.
In this short note on child labour in India, we will learn about what is child labour, the history of child labour in India, child labour facts and laws against child labour in India.
Child labour introduction
Child labour is a serious challenge for the perfect future of children. Across the world, child labour can be seen in a variety of industries such as carpet making, food services, clothing making, mines, agriculture, selling cigarettes on the streets and many other places. Children are also at risk of child trafficking which forces them to do bad things like sexual exploitation and child pornography etc.
Child labour definition
Child Labour meaning is defined as “employment of the child in any industry or occupation.” It is not a matter of money whether the child is working for wages or not. It is a bad habit that deprives the child of his childhood. Once the child starts working in industries or any other occupation, he is deprived of education. This is the biggest reason behind poverty and illiteracy in India.
Child labour in the world
According to the worldwide child labour report 2017 by the International Labour Organization, there were 246 million children working as child labour in 2000 and, in 2016, approximately 152 million children. The data is decreasing over time due to the efforts taken by the government however, there are millions of children who are continuously being exploited for cheap labour, especially in India.
Child labour in India
India has the largest number of child labourers in the world. Children born in poor families are being used as domestic labour in cities. The environment in which these children are working is the worst. They are often given work without any wages or sometimes even without food. There are many cases of child labour where children are being physically and sexually abused and forced into prostitution.
According to reports, around 20 per cent of children between the ages of 15 and 17 are working in hazardous environments. India is a most populated country, it is tough to measure the exact numbers of child labour as it is hidden or not reported. According to the International Labor Organization report, there are 18 million children (between 7-17 years of age) in India who are neither employed nor in schools. These children are subject to child labour who are working in the worst environment of child labour.
History of child labour in India
The history of child labour in India can be traced back to ancient times where the parents of the children used to do their ancestral work for the king. Their children were forced to do the same things that their parents used to do for their king.
In ancient times, the people were compelled to do the same work which their ancestors used to do for the king. As a result, children have to do the same things without their free consent.
The poverty and essence of good schools forced parents to engage their children in business.
Child labour statistics in India
According to the report on child labour in India as per 2011 census data, 10.1 million children are working as child labour, of which 4.5 million are girls and 5.6 million are boys. For simple understanding, one in ten children is doing child labour.
Children belong to the school, they are not for work.
Minimum age of labour in India
Article 24 of the constitution of India sets the law for child labour that:
“No child below the age of 14 years shall be employed on work in any company, mine of any other hazardous employment”
The child under the age of 14 cannot be used as labour in any business. According to article 21(A) of the constitution of India, the state has the due to provide free education to the child of age 6 to 14 years.
Children between the age of 15-17 are prohibited to do work in dangerous conditions.
Causes of child labour in India
There are many reasons for child labour in India. Children are often involved in child labour because of their parents who consider child labour to be “normal”. They are not aware of the importance of education in our life. Sometimes, the child used to work because of the conditions in his home and family. Let us discuss some child labour facts which are the main causes of child labour in India.
Poverty is the main reason which is pushing children into child labour. There are many families in India who are unable to meet the basic needs to run their households. They are also unable to fulfil their dreams of good food and shelter and cannot send their children to school. Due to poverty, they have no other option so they send their children to many workplaces so that they can help them in running the household.
Poverty is the main reason behind other problems which are increasing due to poverty. As such, families are not able to eat healthy food which is weakening the immune system. Poverty is the cause of illiteracy in India.
The low-income people are completely dependent on the forest. They used to sell animals and their parts so that they could earn some money. But by doing this they are inviting other problems and now, the situation is that we are making efforts to conserve wildlife for saving the animals which are decreasing day by day.
Lack of Education
Education is very important in our life. All children should be educated because they are the future of our country. The school environment should be welcoming to the children. It should be affordable for every family. The government is running many programs like free education in schools and free food under schools. But to remove illiteracy, many other steps have to be taken. Government should tell every family about the importance of education.
Poor qualities of laws
The government has enacted many laws to stop child labour. But there is a need to tighten these laws and make strict rules for those who break these laws. If we make the laws stricter, it will help children not to work forcibly.
No access to good work
The people have no access to do decent work. They are not aware of the basic education, due to this, they are unable to develop new skills for the work so they are working in the Hazardous atmosphere.
No understanding of Child Labour
People are not aware of the consequences of child labour in India, they see it as a process of character building of children. Parents are not aware that child labour can cause health problems and can ruin their future by getting trapped in child labour. They are constantly sending children to work.
Natural disaster or climate change
Many rural households in India are dependent on seasonal crops. Sometimes, crops are destroyed due to natural calamities and climate change. Now, they have no other option for food, so they send their children to work to help them make up for the loss.
Migration and emergencies
People search for work from one city to another due to lack of work which hinders the education of their children. Sometimes, the survival of new cities becomes costly for them. It forces children to work with their parents.
The reason for migration can be an emergency. An emergency can ruin the life of a poor family and parents are left with no option but to send their children to work in dangerous situations.
Child trafficking is also one of the biggest causes of child labour which force children to work in extremely dangerous conditions. There are many cases where parents sell their children because of poverty. The person who buys these children exploits these children and forces them to work for them.
Laws against child labour in India
The Government of India made the first law for child labour in 1993. The law prohibited boys and girls from working in hazardous conditions and from engaging in any activity that could harm the mental, moral and social development of underage children of 18 years. This law was made for the benefit of children. However, this law was not of much help and child labour continued. There were many loopholes in the law and people were using these loopholes to take advantage of child labour which is cheaper as compared to others.
This law was allowing children to work in their family business and it was legal. Thus, it was not helping the children who were selling cigarettes on the roadside, as it was part of their family business.
The government again enacted laws in 2006 and 2016 which made some strict rules in the field of child labour. It was prohibiting a child below the age of 14 from having any domestic or service staff in hotels.
But there were some points that were not enough to stop child labour which is as follows:
- The law was not applicable to children under the age of 15-17 because they were only prohibited from doing dangerous work.
- Family businesses were still acceptable
- The law did not exclude sectoral activities like carpet weaving etc.
The government is still making new rules and regulations to enforce and tighten the laws against child labour. The Indian government is developing new laws that will increase punishment for employers who use child labour under the age of 14. As of now, there is a fine for the offence of child labour but the government may combine imprisonment with a fine in the latest law.
Case Study on Child Labour
10 years old child rescued from a tea stall in front of the school
A person informed the child helpline Ambala that a boy is doing child labour in a stall in front of the school. The person said that the child is a minor. The ChildLine Ambala sent the letter to the Child Welfare Committee to investigate the case. They made a committee and rescued the boy (Aman). The Child Welfare Committee gave him shelter until his parents found it. Later, the Aman’s family were found. The Child Welfare Committee checked their IDs and handover their minor son to them. The Child Welfare Committee gave them the advice to put Aman in the school and let him make his own future.
What needs to be done to stop child labour in India?
There are many steps that should be taken by the government to stop child labour in India. We can stop child labour by:
- Combat extreme poverty
- Making strict laws for child labour in India
- Telling about the importance of education
- Providing quality education to the children
- Making laws to stop child trafficking
- Supporting NGOs for Child protection
- Providing skill-building programs, so that the person can learn new skills
- Discouraging parents to employ children in houses, shops and other places.
- Providing work opportunities for people so that they can send their child to school
Download Child Labour essay pdf
The conclusion of this essay on child labour in India is that the country should make strict laws and take necessary steps to stop child labour in India. It is reducing the literacy rate of the country. A child who is not going to school for education cannot do much to make the country proud. We should help poor children by informing NGOs and child care centres so that they can save these minor children.
People should aware of the importance of education in our life. With these some small and major steps for the abolition of child labour, we can save our future from starving and other dangerous diseases.
The fabricator of our Constitution was well known for the fact the development of the nation can be achieved by the development of the children of the nation & it is necessary to protect the children from harassment or exploitation.
Constitution of India
Article 14: Equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws.
Article 15: Right against discrimination.
Article 21: No person shall be underprivileged of his life or personal liberty.
Article 21A: State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of 6 to 14 years in such manner as the State may determine.
Article 23 Right to being protected from peddling & forced into bonded labour.
Article 24: No child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any type of hazardous work.
Article 29 Right of minorities for the protection of their interest.
Article 45: State shall endeavour to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of 6 years.
In the case of M.C. Mehta Vs. State of Tamil Nadu and Others the Honorable Apex Court issued a critical ruling that the Constitution of India requires the state to endeavour to provide free, compulsory education for children. The Court found that children under the age of 14, should not be engaged in any type of hazardous employment, and ordered the government to establish & maintain a child labour rehabilitation welfare fund and employers who violated these child labour laws would be required to make a deposit into the fund.
In another case of Labourers Working on Salal Hydro-Project vs State of Jammu & Kashmir Justice P.N. Bhagwati said that Same Construction works are hazardous, so employment of child below the age of 14 years in construction works in violation of Article 24.
The employment of Children Act,1938
Any child who has not completed 15 years of age and are employed in any occupation connected with the transport of passengers, goods by railways, or a port authority within the limit of a port. Limited protection to the children who are within the age of 15 to17 years. This protection is not applicable to children who are employed as either novitiate or are receiving vocational training.
The Factories Act, 1948
This act prohibits the employment of children below 14 years of age in the factory. The factory covers the establishment, which employs 10 or more workers with the aid of power or 20 or more workers without the aid of power. Persons who are between the age of 14 and 15 years, they can be employed under following restrictions provided under Section 68, 69 and 71 of the Act:
- The certifying Surgeon should follow the procedure laid down in Section 69.
- They should not work at night i.e., 12 consecutive hours including the period from 10 PM to 6 AM.
The Mines Act, 1952
The wriggle groom of this act is wide and it applies to exhumation where an operation for the purpose of searching for or obtaining minerals has been or is carried out. It not only prohibits the employment of any child but even the presence of a child in any part of mine which is below ground or in any open cast working in which mining operation is carried on. Pubescent who have completed their 16 years of age are allowed to work only if he has a medical certificate of fitness for work, and this fitness certificate is valid only for 12 months.
The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986
The main objectives of this act are:
- Embargoing the employment of children.
- Laying down procedures to decide abetment to the schedule of banned occupation or processes.
- Regulating the conditions of work of children in employment where they are not prohibited from working.
- Laying down enhanced penalties for the employment of children in violation of the provisions of this Act and other Acts which disallow the employment of children.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2000
This Act deals with the law relating to juveniles in conflict with law or children in need of care & protection, by providing for proper care, protection and treatment by victual to their development needs & by adopting a child-friendly approach in the adjudication & disposition of matters in the best interest of children & for their ultimate redemption through various institutions established under the Act.
In the case of Gaurav Jain vs. Union of India Hon’ble Apex Court to rehabilitate children and child prostitutes after conducting an in-depth study of the matter. To boot, juvenile homes should be used for rehabilitating child prostitutes.
Right to Education Act, 2009
Free & compulsory education to all children of India from the age group of 6 to 14 years. No child shall be held back, drum out or required to pass a board examination until the completion of rudimentary education. If a child above 6 years of age has not been admitted to any school or could not complete his/her plain sailing education, then he/she shall be admitted to a class as appropriate to his/her age. However, if a case may be where a child is directly admitted in the class appropriate to his/her age, and they have the right to receive special training within such time limits as may be prescribed.
Policies of the Government regarding Children
The Government of India has made numerous policy regarding the physical, mental & social development of the children of the country.
The Government has also made many policies on the health & education of children, and there are some of the important policies of the Government regarding children:
National Policy for Children 1974- India is one of the few countries in the world which have made a written policy for children. This policy declares that children are considered the supreme asset of the nation. The following are some of the facets of the policy:
- All the children shall be covered under a comprehensive health programme.
- To provide non-formal education.
- Special attention to be taken towards the physically challenged, mentally retarded or hindered children.
- All children shall be corroborating equality of opportunity.
National Policy on Education 1986– This policy gave the highest importance to Universal Primary Education. It also gave some importance to early childhood care & education. It also emphasised the need for large-scale investment in the development of The Rights Of Children in India children through Government & voluntary organizations.
National Policy on Child Labour 1987– The National Policy on Child Labour is a lodestar whack in the progressive elimination of child labour in India. The policy helm in actions in the field of education, health, nutrition, integrated child development & employment. It was divided into 3 following heads:
- the Legislative Plan.
- Focusing on general programmes for benefiting child labour.
- Project-based plan of action in areas of high concentration of child labour engaged in wage or quasi-wage employment.
National Health Policy 2002– The 1st policy on health aimed at achieving health for all by the year 2000 and the 2nd policy on the health of 2002 anticipate giving priority to school health problems which sight at health education & regular health check-ups at schools. The principal feature of this policy was to prevent communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS & to provide for universal immunization of children against all major curable disease.
Children constitute the nation valuable human resources. The future of our nation depends on how its children grow and develop. So, it is the duty of society to look after every child with a view to persuading the full development of its personality. Children are the future superintended and torcher bearers of the Society. Children, owing to their developing mind are unguarded to the environment they are in. It is of paramount importance that such an environment is made suitable for their growth and development, regardless of whether such child is in conflict with the law or with due care and protection of the law. No nation can burgeon if children of such nation suffer, therefore India with the help of various international, national as well as state mechanisms to secure the rights of the children as has been discussed above.
Written By- Shambhavi, Banasthali University
- D Basu “Introduction to Constitution of India” 19th Edition
- Pandey J.N “Constitution of India” 17th Edition
- Mishra S.N “Industrial &labour Laws” 11th Edition
Bare Acts Referred
- The Constitution of India
- Labour &Industrial laws