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Child labour in India

The problem of child labour exploitation is a major challenge to the progress of developing countries. Children work at the cost of their right to education which leaves them permanently trapped in the poverty cycle, sadly without the education and literacy required for better-paying jobs. This is particularly serious in India as it tops the list with the highest number of child labourers in the world. The 2001 national census of India estimated the total number of child labour, aged 5–14, to be at 17 million.[1] Out of the 12.6 million ,0.12 million engages in hazardous job. However, according to informal labour force statistics, the problem seems to be more severe than reflected. Child labour is estimated to be as large as 60 million in India, as many children are "hidden workers" working in homes or in the underground economy.[2] In the long run, this phenomenon will evolve to be both a social and an economic problem as economic disparities widen between the poor and educationally backward states and that of the faster-growing states. India has the highest number of labourers in the world under 14 years of age.[3] Although the Constitution of India guarantees free and compulsory education to children between the age of 6 to 14 and prohibits employment of children younger than 14 in 18 hazardous occupations and 65 hazardous processes,[4][5] child labour is prevalent in almost all informal sectors of the Indian economy.[6] Companies including Gap,[7] Primark,[8] Monsanto[9] and others have been criticised for using child labour in either their operations in India or by their suppliers in India.

Many Indian families send their children to work, with some living away from home. Reasons are often associated with poverty, keeping up with the large-size family subsistence and inadequate public education infrastructure.[10] Families generally are also unable to afford their children’s education.[11] “Families will have to go without their children's income for several years, a choice many poor parents will be unable to make without help.” -BBC news[12] Attending school means forgoing a source of income for the family. This is a common problem, especially in the low caste and minorities of India.[13]

The demand for child labour further aggravates the situation. Many manufacturing firms and sweatshops are strategically located at poverty-stricken areas to attract children to work as labourers. One example is the textile factory in Delhi where clothes for the International brand “GAP” were manufactured. In 2010 Master ABHILASH rescued many children in Andhra Pradesh. With profit maximizing objectives, firms are

India compares very poorly against countries with high level of human development on all indicators such as life expectancy. but one estimate in 2000 shows that there were 15 million child labourers who were bonded. It is evident from India ranking at lowest quarter (122th) in World HDI (Human Development Index) rankings. Both Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act. there was no data showing how many children labourers are among those being freed. higher efficiency and most importantly. when children are working. However.[22] Furthermore. Also. there was a lack of will from the government to enforce the acts. . Bonded or not. a loan or to pay off debts. in spite of its rapid economic growth. there were only around 1800 bonded labourers being identified and released. high illiteracy rate puts long-term economic growth at risk.[citation needed] It refers to children who are “sold” by their parents for a petty sum. education and per capita income.incentivised to employ children rather than adults due to their cheaper wages.[16] A form of long run employerslave relationship is formed when these children are tied to this debt bondage to work for their employers for a time period that could be stretched to a lifetime. 1986.[17] There has been no universally accepted number of bonded child labourers in India. The presence of a large number of child labourers is regarded as a serious issue in terms of economic welfare. have done little to help the bonded child labourers as the employers tend to use the loopholes and ambiguity in the act to their advantage.[18]Bonded child labour is practiced widely across many parts of rural India and across multiple industries. and another around 17300 bonded labourers rehabilitated. Though bondage is illegal in India and initiatives have been taken to stop bonded child labours.[20] According to the Ministry of Labour’s figures. 1976 and Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act. absence of union problems. very few employers got prosecuted and even fewer got convicted.[14][15] Bonded child labour in India The worst form of child labours would probably be bonded labour. Their hazardous working condition lowers India’s welfare level too. they are put apart from the necessary education. between 2000 and 2002 in all of India. the overall contribution of child labour in developing countries is so substantial that whether it would harm the economy is still under continuous debate. and usually it is for a minimal or no wages.[21] Moreover. little has been achieved.[20] Consequences of child labour In general. large number of low-paid Child labours lowers India’s per capita income. [19] Despite having large number of bonded labourers identified.

when indicators like literacy level and health care should be taken into consideration too.000. a vital criteria is to have an educated workforce equipped with relevant skills for the needs of the industries. Diamond industry Further information: Child labour in the diamond industry#India In 1997. as child labourers constitute nearly 3% of the total workforce and the percentage of child labourers is as high as 25% in the diamond industry of Surat. children do not gain the necessary skills such as English literacy and technical aptitude that will increase their productivity to enable them to secure higher-skilled jobs in future with higher wages that will lift them out of poverty. which emphasized the importance of child labour to the Indian economy. The ICFTU further claimed that child labour was prospering in the diamond industry in Western India.[27] .[1] simultaneously it also saw the sharp decline in the state revenue.[25] claiming that child labour is highly prevalent in the Indian diamond industry. a Surat-based diamond businessman argued that. argued that while child labour is highly prevalent in the construction and hotel industries. To keep an economy prospering. there are tremendous economic benefits for developing nations by sending children to school instead of work. as child labour takes large proportion of ‘Economically Active’ population in the developing countries. When the state of Andhra Pradesh reduced the number of child labourers by close to 300. At the end of the day. some western countries deliberately created the impression that child labour is prevalent in the Indian diamond industry" and called the boycott for monopolising in the sector.[26]Pravin Nanavati. where the majority of the world's diamonds are cut and polished while workers are often paid only a fraction of 1% of the value of the stones they cut.[23] Child labour in India are employed with the majority (70%) in agricultural[24] and the rest in low-skilled labour-intensive sectors such as sari weaving or as domestic helpers. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). will be part of India’s human capital tomorrow. mainly because of stern punishments and penalties for violation of child labour laws. which require neither formal education nor training. since high cost diamonds could easily be lost or broken while cutting or polishing. short run numerical GDP growth alone cannot determine overall GDP growth. The South Gujarat Diamond Workers Association secretary Mohan Dhabuwala.Some suggest that child labour is necessary to some extent. The young labourers today. Child labour undoubtedly results in a trade-off with human capital accumulation. less than 1% according to their surveys.[12] Without education. there are few child labourers in the diamond industry of Surat. the International Labour Organization published a report titled Child Labour in the Diamond Industry. employing a child labourer would mean risking "lakhs of rupees" and “Around 8-10 years back.

the gem and jewelry industry cannot even think of employing children. India. in Surat. Children work daily for minimal wages. These child workers are usually forced to work after their parents have accepted a cash advance of 1000-5000 rupees.[citation needed] The town of Sivakasi in South India is supposed to be the capital of child labour in fireworks manufacture sector.31% in2005 which is estimated to be less than 1%. "Some 500 diamond factory owners took an oath in the city of Palanpur..[35] Children are forced to dip their hands in scalding water to palpate the cocoons and are often paid less than Rs 10 per day. commissioned a study titled Child Labour from Gem and Jewellery Industry "to spread awareness about child labor among the people connected with the industry" that is conducted at 663 manufacturing units at 21 different locations at Gujarat.[34] As per Human Rights Watch..[32] An estimated 30 people have died in two separate accidents in 2000.. Maharashtra."[29][30][31] Fireworks manufacture It is estimated that around 135.55% 143 in 1998 to 0. but that a child could be injured while polishing or cutting the diamonds.[28] In 2005. Similarly. "while for the synthetic stone industry it is estimated to be two-thirds less".In 1998. On 12 February. (home town of leading Gujarati diamond merchants) not to employ children in their factories. children as young as five years old are employed and work for up to 12 hours a day and six to seven days a week. the study is presented in a seminar held by the Gem & Jewelry Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) and the Surat Diamond Association. an India-based management consultancy firm named A. Gem& Jewellery Export Promotion Council chairman Bakul Mehta. in Surat. F." and at GJEPC they. Madhura Swaminathan from the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research argued that economic growthin Western India was associated with an increase in the number of child workers over the last 15 years and that children work at simple repetitive manual tasks that do not require long years of training or experience in low-paying hazardous works that involves drudgery and forecloses the option of school education for most children. Ferguson & Co.000 bonded children are employed by the silk industry in India.000 children work in the Indian fireworks industry. and with no firefighting safeguard in factories manufacturing fireworks. They mainly start work in April in preparation for the Hindu festival of Diwali. West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.[36] Domestic labour . The report argued that the use of child labour in India’s diamond processing industry has been reduced from 0. "Remain committed to eradicating child labor from the Indian diamond industry” arguing ".[33] Silk manufacture Human Rights Watch estimates that at least 350. 200 factory owners took the oath. claimed that. Rajasthan. as a GJEPC initiative. not only for moral reasons. Gujarat.

The Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act was not enacted based on the recommendations of the committee in 1986.[1] The Ministry of Labour and Employment had implemented around 100 industry-specific National Child Labour Projects to rehabilitate the child workers since 1988. considering the magnitude and extent of the problem and that it is essentially a socio-economic problem inextricably linked to poverty and illiteracy. Adults are found in construction of both home and office buildings. The Committee felt that in the circumstances. Some of the children are actually sold to the brick kiln owners. Brick kilns Each year.500. and are not paid. working in awful conditions. thousands of children are rescued from brick kilns. Initiatives against child labour In 1979. the contractors had employed adults. it would be difficult to totally eliminate child labour and hence. it requires concerted efforts from all sections of the society to make a dent in the problem. Construction The misuse of adult labour can be found in the construction industry too. making it a small issue. for the construction of the Asian Games care house. for they had to be paid more.[37] The Government of India expanded the coverage of The Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act and banned the employment of children as domestic workers and as workers in restaurants. the Indian government formed the Gurupadswamy Committee to find about child labour and means to tackle it. spas and resorts effective from 10 October 2006.000 while NGOs estimate the figure to be around 20 million. The Committee examined the problem in detail and made some far-reaching recommendations. However. A National Policy on Child Labour was formulated in 1987 to focus on rehabilitating children working in hazardous occupations. It observed that as long as poverty continued. In 2011. Way back in 1979. the only alternative left was to ban child labour in hazardous areas and to regulate and ameliorate the . Government has been taking various pro-active measures to tackle this problem. Government formed the first committee called Gurupadswamy Committee to study the issue of child labour and to suggest measures to tackle it. dhabas.[38] Legislation Initiatives towards Elimination of Child Labour – Action Plan and Present Strategy The problem of child labour continues to pose a challenge before the country. hotels. any attempt to abolish it through legal recourse would not be a practical proposition.Official estimates for child labour working as domestic labour and in restaurants is more than 2.

The Act prohibits employment of children 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. Since poverty is the root cause of this problem. In the special schools.conditions of work in other areas. which are the appropriate implementing authorities. the action plan emphasizes the need to cover these children and their families also under various poverty alleviation and employment generation schemes of the Government. Project Based Plan of Action envisages starting of projects in areas of high concentration of child labour. supplementary nutrition and regular health check ups so as to prepare them to join regular mainstream schools. The Action Plan outlined in the Policy for tackling this problem is as follows: A Legislative Action Plan for strict enforcement of Child Labour Act and other labour laws to ensure that children are not employed in hazardous employments. a stipend of Rs. have been conducting regular inspections and raids to detect cases of violations. The government has accordingly been taking proactive steps to tackle this problem through strict enforcement of legislative provisions along with simultaneous rehabilitative measures. Focusing of General Developmental Programmes for Benefiting Child Labour . . these children are provided formal/non-formal education along with vocational training. which are detrimental to the health and safety of the poverty is the root cause of child labour. It recommended that a multiple policy approach was required in dealing with the problems of working children.100 per month. in 1988. The Scheme envisages running of special schools for child labour withdrawn from work. It also entails further identification of additional occupations and processes. Under the Scheme. In consonance with the above approach. and enforcement alone cannot help solve it. Based on the recommendations of Gurupadaswamy Committee. the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme was launched in 9 districts of high child labour endemicity in the country. Government has been laying a lot of emphasis on the rehabilitation of these children and on improving the economic conditions of their families. and that the working conditions of children working in non-hazardous areas are regulated in accordance with the provisions of the Child Labour Act. Most of these schools are run by the NGOs in the district. the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act was enacted in 1986. State Governments. Pursuant to this. The Policy seeks to adopt a gradual & sequential approach with a focus on rehabilitation of children working in hazardous occupations & processes in the first instance. funds are given to the District Collectors for running special schools for child labour. a National Policy on Child Labour was formulated in 1987.

. Pratham.[39] In 2005.Non-governmental organisations Many NGOs like CARE India. an Indian NGO was involved in one of the biggest rescue operations when around 500 child labourers were rescued from zari sweatshops in North East Delhi [40] though child labour still goes on today. Global march against child labor etc. Child Relief and You. have been working to eradicate child labour in India.