Child labour is defined as having children engaged in any firm, on part time or full time. This deprives children of their childhood and is harmful to their physical and mental strength.
Can we eliminate child labour? Though it is only a dream to eliminate child labour from our country, because of the socio economic scenario that is prevailing in our country, it can be very difficult to eliminate child labour from India. One cannot disagree the fact that the employee’s make the children work by paying them less than what they will have to pay a adult worker, thereby these employee’s not only make these children work with less pay, they also take away the child’s opportunity to go to a school to learn, which would pave a way to their future in earning more. But when we consider from the parents point of view about their economic compulsion which will force the child to work, one will be compelled to admit that elimination of child labour will be a distant dream as long as the socio-economic status of these families is not improved.
Realizing the harm caused by child labour, the government of India has made laws to protect children from exploitation at work and to improve their working environment. Besides, a comprehensive law called The Child Labour Act of 1986, which states, where a child can work and where he cannot. The act defines a child as any person who has not completed his fourteen year of age. The act also prohibits the children from working in occupation such as Catering in railways, Construction work in railway or anywhere near the tracks, plastic factories, auto mobile garages, beedi making, tanning, soap manufacture, brick kilns, roof tiles units etc. And the law also states that a child should not work for more than three hour in a stretch and after each three hour he should be given a break, and the maximum time a child should work is 6 hours. It also defines that the child should not work between 7 pm. and 8 am., while he/she is not allowed to work overtime also he/she must receive a holiday from every week. The employer must send a notification to the inspector about child working in their establishment and keep a register of all children being employed for inspection.
In 1987, the Indian government formulated National Police on Child Labour to protect the children and to focus on the projects that would help the children’s in their improvement. As a part of this policy many Projects have been set up in our country. These projects include special schools which are established to prove non-formal education, supplementary nutrition, vocational training etc. to children who have come away from working.
The factories Act of 1948 prohibits any child below 14 to work in any factory. It also states that pre adults aged between 15-18 are allowed to work in factories.
The Mines Act of 1952 defines that it prohibits the employment of children under 18 to work in a mine.
The Juvenile Justice of children act of 2000 is a law which was brought into act to punish any person who employs children in any hazardous environment or in bondage.
The Right of Children To Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009 which was brought into act to give free and compulsory education for children in the age group of 6-14. The legislation also made 25 percent of the seats mandatory in every private schools for children who are physically challenged and those from disadvantaged groups.
Though child labour cannot be eliminated completely from this economic scenario, the Indian government has taken up the task of ensuring that no child remains illiterate, without medical care hungry. And when this situation will be achieved is a question to be answered.
The developed countries are pressurizing developing countries like India, Sri Lanka to eliminate child labour. According to the current status, the developing countries are going to stop the goods that are being imported to the manufactures, which have child labour in their production. Many small scales manufactures that are into the production of carpets, mats, brooms, weaving, and etc. have a lot of child labour in them and these industries may not be able to export their goods because the developed countries are not ready to take the products from the manufactures that have child labour in their firm.
In 2001 national census of India estimated a total of 12.6 million child labour that are in the age group of 5-14 out of a total child population of 253 million in that age group. This problem not only prevails in India, but in many parts of the world, about 217 million children work and that too full time. In 2001, out of the 12.6 million children, 120,000 children were working in hazardous job. According to UNICEF, with a large population in India, it estimates India to have the large number of child labour.
Child labour is a demon which is one of the main factors that is preventing India in reaching its foremost goal as a developed nation. But there are many families who will be brought to streets if child labour is totally washed away, so by taking away child labour we will have to see a lot of beggars in our Indian streets, and so the parents of these children will have to send them to work even by knowing that they are ruining the child’s future, because it is the only way they can survive. Hence till this poverty of Indian poor people improves, India will have to see child labour.