By Mayank Jain (L&T MHPS)
14th November, as we all know is celebrated as “Children’s Day” in India. It is celebrated as a tribute to our independent country’s first Prime Minister, Sh. Jawaharlal Nehru. Fondly known as Chacha Nehru among children, he advocated for children to have fulfilled education. On this day, many educational and motivational programs are held across the country, by and for children. He said –
Children are like buds in a garden and should be carefully and lovingly nurtured, as they are the future of the nation and the citizens of tomorrow
Prior to death of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, India celebrated Children’s Day on 20th November (the dae observed as Universal Children’s Day by the United Nations). After the death of Jawaharlal Nehru, his birth anniversary was deliberated to be celebrated as Children’s Day in India.
But do we ever contemplate whether every child who comes to this world really get education as to what Pt. Nehru envisaged decades ago? And the real question is, do every child gets to celebrate this day?
Even if we consider just India and not the whole world, there is a massive problem which has plagued the society and the problem is Child Labour. Though there are many other problems for children in the world like sexual exploitation, malnutrition, improper health, violence, child mortality, illiteracy, etc. but child labour is the severe of all.
Child Labour is defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and is harmful to their physical and mental development.
It refers to work that:
a) is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children.
b) interferes with their schooling by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school prematurely; or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.
Going by the statistics, there are around 10.13 million child labourers between 5-14 years of age in India (2011 census data), 22.87 million working children between 15-18 years of age. 80% of the child labour in India is concentrated in rural areas. There are five states which are India’s biggest child labour employees – Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, MAdhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Over half of India’s child labour population works in these states. India’s biggest hub of child labour is Uttar Pradesh and it accounts for almost 20% of the India’s child labourers.
India ranked 113 of 175 countries in the “Save the Children’s end of Childhood Index” in 2018. This shows that it is far behind the other countries and has a lot to do in improving the condition of its children and has to take immediate steps in order to curb this problem.
In the past, there were credible efforts made by government in order to put child labour under control. Apart from government, there are various non-governmental organizations working for the rescue and rehabilitation of child labour in India.
Way back in 1979, Government formed the first committee called Gurupadswamy Committee to study the issue of child labour and to suggest measures to tackle it. The Committee examined the problem in detail and made some far-reaching recommendations. It observed that as long as poverty continued, it would be difficult to totally eliminate child labour and hence, any attempt to abolish it through legal recourse would not be a practical proposition. The Committee felt that in the circumstances, the only alternative left was to ban child labour in hazardous areas and to regulate and ameliorate the conditions of work in other areas. It recommended that a multiple policy approach was required in dealing with the problems of working children.
Based on the recommendations of Gurupadaswamy Committee, the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act was enacted in 1986. As per the Act, employment of children was prohibited in certain specified hazardous occupations and processes and regulates the working conditions in others. The list of hazardous occupations and processes is progressively being expanded on the recommendation of Child Labour Technical Advisory Committee constituted under the Act. Subquitently the act was amended in 2016 with the enactment of the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Act 2016 prohibiting the employment of Children below 14 years in all employment and also with the provisions for prohibition on employment of adolescents(14-18 Years) in the scheduled hazardous occupations and processes .
In consonance with the above approach, a National Policy on Child Labour, formulated in 1987, seeks to adopt a gradual & sequential approach with a focus on rehabilitation of children and Adolescent . The Action Plan outlined in the Policy for tackling this problem is as follows:
- Legislative Action Plan for strict enforcement of The Child & Adolescent Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986.
- Project based action plan in areas of high concentration of Child & Adolescent Labour – National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Schemes.
- Focuses on general developmental programmes for the benefit of the families of children
Government has accordingly been taking proactive steps to tackle this problem through strict enforcement of legislative provisions along with simultaneous rehabilitative measures. State Governments, which are the appropriate implementing authorities, have been conducting regular inspections and raids to detect cases of violations. Since poverty is the root cause of this problem, and enforcement alone cannot help solve it, Government has been laying a lot of emphasis on the rehabilitation of these children and on improving the economic conditions of their families.
Many NGOs like Bachpan Bachao Andolan, ChildFund, CARE India, Talaash Association, Child Rights and You, Global march against child labour, Bundelkhand matra bhumi samaj sevi sansthan project stop working with child labour in India, RIDE India, Childline etc. have been working to eradicate child labour in India.
Child labour has also been a subject of public interest litigations in Indian courts.
As responsible citizens, it is our duty to be aware of the laws which protects a child from getting trapped into child labour and if we see something similar happening around us, we should report it to the concerned authorities so that his/her innocence should not get buried under the abuses. Each and every child has the right to get the right amenities which others are getting.
He / she should go to school & Study and not go into the fields & work. Every child has a dream and it is our responsibility to let hi, fulfill it. Even if we couldn’t help single handedly, we can help in many ways by providing the right resources to the organizations or groups which are working in the rehabilitation of the children rescued from child labour.