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Child Labour:TIME TO CRY HALT, by , Mithun Day, 6 January 2011 Print E-mail

Open Forum

New Delhi, 6 January 2011

Child Labour


By Mithun Dey


India is a blatant example of a nation stalked by the evil of child labour. Wherein children instead of going to schools and learning how to read and write are working as menial labourers. A large number of youngsters can be seen earning their livelihood at railway platforms, in trains, tea stalls, grocery stores, cycle shops, motor garages, workshops and on street corners. Scandalously, this is the fate of over 15 per cent children between 10-14 years of age.


Sadly, child labour is extensively spread-out in rural areas compared to urban places. Most of the children earn their bread by working in the agricultural sector, house-holds and craftwork. According to a recent survey, children under the age of 14 work as domestic help or in family ventures. There are more boys employed under-14 than girls as work in these sectors requires a lot of hard work.


Children labouring in these areas are mostly from cities like Kolkata, New Delhi, Ludhiana, Mumbai, Bhopal, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore et al. They are pushed by their families to earn money and send it back home. As their families’ existence is dependent on these earnings. This makes it imperative for the children to take on arduous work in factories.  


Undoubtedly, child labour is one of the central problems plaguing India. Primarily due to burgeoning poverty and exploding population whereby children are forced to enroll as labourers to survive. Even, children growing-up in remote parts of rural India are forced to perform menial task thanks to the lack of educational facilities. Worse, uneducated parents do not comprehend the meaning of educating their children. 


Thus, child labour is treated as ‘cheap labour.’ In fact, factory owners make hefty profits by exploiting children and making them work in their plants and factories. Also, working children are mostly orphans and are illegal migrants. Victims of uprisings, wars, poverty and homelessness in the country of origin, not a few are made to take to prostitution and pornography. Even by their parents for money. More atrocious, was news of poverty-stricken parents selling their two children for Rs 20,000 each to contractors in Malda, West Bengal a few months ago.


Importantly, India urgently needs a population policy. The Government needs to take solid measures to curtail our burgeoning population problem. This would help the poor to perk up their lives in substantial ways. According to the Child Labour Act of 1986 employing children is illegal and immoral. It sets the minimum age of employment at 14 years respectively. Our law enforcing agencies must ensure that this is strictly adhered.

Besides, there are some sectors like cultivation and family work which are not included in child labour. There are also many loop holes while setting laws and rules for child labor which allows exploitation. For example in Nepal, the minimum age for a person to go for work is 14 years, but plantation and working in brick kilns is exempt. 


Further, children working in diverse shops are paid not more than Rs. 500 to 800 a month. Worse, they are made to work for more than twelve hours a day and have to be regular. Not matter the season, hot summer, heavy rains and freezing cold. According to another recent survey a number of children working in sweet shops hate working and would like to go to school. They also pine for spending more time with their parents, other family members and friends.

Agonizingly, it is often seen that shop owners not only overwork children working therein but also abuse and maltreat the. Sometimes, they are traumatized both physically and mentally.

Furthermore, there are innumerable rackets trading in children in many cities. Not a few of these inter-State rackets go a step further and promote child beggary and child prostitution. In fact, police raids which have rescued minor girls from these vice dens are only a tip of the iceberg of the on-going vicious trade.  

In the final analysis, the time has come to immediately put an end to this cruel practice of child labour. We need to realize, that children are the future of a nation. For India to move ahead our young ones need to be educated not work. We need to put the smile back on the children’s’ faces and make them happy for ever! ------ INFA

(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)






















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