child labour
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This article is written by Shivani Verma, a student of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi. In this article, she has discussed various important aspects of child labour in India and the legal regime around it.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Children are always considered close to God. They are considered as bringer of happiness, joy and hope, no matter where they go. The future of the nation depends on the children as they are undoubtedly the stepping stone in shaping the future of any nation. If a nation treats its children properly and provides them with the basic facilities then it would get reflected in the future performance of the nation. The moral duty of the nation is to ensure that the childhood of every child is protected. 

Child labour definition 

Child labour is a global phenomenon, it is not restricted to only one country. “Child labour” is defined as the employment of children in any manual work. According to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, a “childis a person who has not yet attained the age of 14 years. In this tender age where a child is expected to grow, enjoy his or her childhood to the fullest, seek education, gain a strong value system, he/she is forced to work and earn a living for himself/herself and his/her family. It not only affects his/her physical and mental development but it also puts a very heavy burden of responsibility on the child to support his/her family. It is frequently observed that the children are forced to become labour due to some hardships like lack of strong financial support, lack of proper food, clothing, shelter, livelihood etc.

International Labour Organisation [ILO] defines child labour as a work that not only affects their childhood but also doesn’t let the children attend the school regularly, or have a proper education. Child labour also deprives children of their dignity, potential and childhood. Children working below the age of 14 years are not able to develop mentally, socially, physically or morally[1]. 

A different definition of child labour is given by the United Nation’s Children’s Fund [UNICEF]. According to it, a child is considered as labour when:

  1. His/her age is between 5 to 11 years, and 
  2. At least 1 hour of economic activity is performed by him/her or he/she is doing at least 28 hours of domestic work in a week. 

If the children are between 12 to 14 years of age then either they should be doing at least 14 hours of economic activity or at least 42 hours of domestic work per week to be considered as child labour[2].

According to India’s Census 2001, when a child below the age of 17 years participate in economic activity with or without compensation, either physically, or mentally, or both ways. Part-time help or unpaid work on farms, a family business or any other economic activity like cultivation and milk production for sale or domestic consumption will be included in child labour. Child labour is classified into two groups in India:

  1. Main workers: Main workers are those workers who work for at least some months or more per year, and
  2. Marginal child workers: Marginal child workers are those workers who work for less than 6 months in a year and work at any time during the year. 

Child labour issue

Child labour is a major issue not only in India but in every developing country because it destroys a child’s physically as well as mentally. Because of poverty, child labour has become more prevalent, not only in India but globally. Children are the hope and future of a nation that is why it constitutes a social problem. Many laws have been enacted in order to prohibit child labour, however they haven’t been effective in curbing the problem. The statistic report of 2017 explains that India is one of the leading countries in Asia as it has 33 million children employed in child labour. According to the 2011 Census, total child population was 259.6 million out of which 10.1 million are either working as main worker or as marginal workers[3].

Causes of child labour

Poverty, illiteracy of parents, social and economic circumstances of the family are the main causes of child labour. Lack of awareness related to the harmful effects of child labour and lack of access to basic and quality education, cultural values of the family and the surroundings of the society in which one is living, also increase the rate of child labour. High rates of unemployment and under-employment also play a vital role in child labour.

Children who discontinue school due to family indebtedness or are expelled from the school are more prone to child labour. Girls from socially disadvantaged groups are at a higher risk of being forced into child labour.

Causes of child labour in India

In India, the major causes of child labour are:

  1. Poverty: Children are considered helping hands of their family. In developing countries, it is almost impossible to control child labour as children not only have to support themselves but their families also and provide them with a living. Due to poverty, the rate of unemployment and underemployment are also very high and so the parents have to send their children to work on low wages.
  2. Previous debts: Due to their poor economic condition people take loans. But they don’t have sufficient money to pay back the loans so they not only work day and night to pay off the loans but they also drag their children to work so that the loan could be paid off before time and easily.
  3. Professional needs: Some industries require delicate and soft hands rather than rough hands that are required in bangle industries. So they prefer children and not adults for such work.
  4. Bonded labour: Children often work for long hours in the sun and they are deprived of water, food. These children are seldom paid. Bonded labour further adds to the large scale increase in child labour.
  5. Domestic help: Small children often work for educated families and irrespective of several laws that violate the employment of children, they often welcome small children so that these children can take care of their homes as well as their children.
  6. Child sex workers: Often, girls who attained the age of puberty are forced into prostitution in lieu of a promise that they would be given opportunities to do glamorous jobs.
  7. Forced begging: Families who can’t support themselves force their children to beg on the roads in subhuman conditions. They get their children maimed in order to get more money from the people. 

Consequences of child labour

Children are prone to accidents and many other types of hazards at the workplace. Such injuries cause them social and economic harm, the effect of which continues for their entire lives. General injuries like cuts, burns, lacerations, fractures and dizziness are very common. Sexual abuse, STDs, HIV/AIDS, drugs, alcoholism, sexual exploitation of girls, rape, prostitution are also the consequences of child labour. They also face physical neglect in food, clothing, shelter and medical treatment. Because of this, they are not able to go to school which deprive them of basic education due to which they have to live in poverty. Emotional neglect is also the consequences of child labour. Children are prone to physical abuse including beating which often leads to a physical deformity. 

Consequences of child labour in India

Child labour affects the economic welfare of a country to a great extent. Children who work are not able to get an education and they are not able to develop themselves physically, intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically. Children are neither equal to adults nor do they have the strength that the adults have and so they are not able to work for longer hours because they totally become exhausted and this reduces their physical strength which makes them more prone to diseases.

For India, child labour has long term adverse effects. The economy of a country will only prosper when the country will have an educated workforce, skills, technology and the younger generation will be a part of human capital in the future. If child labour at a huge extent continues then there will be a trade-off with human capital accumulation. 70% of child labour is employed in agriculture because it requires less skilled work whereas other children are employed in heavy industries.[4]

Industry 

Diamond industry

Fireworks manufacture

Silk manufacture

Carpet weaving 

Domestic labour

Mining 

Year of the report which provides for the number of child labour in India

1999

2002

2012

—-

2013

State

—-

Tamil Nadu

Karnataka

—-

Meghalaya 

No. of child labour employed

In 1997, child labour involved in the diamond industry was between 10,000 to 20,000 out of 1.5 million total workers.

An exact estimate was not provided but child labour was significant in Tamil Nadu’s fireworks industry.

15,000 children working in 1,100 silk factories in 1998.

20% of carpets manufactured in India could involve child labour.

Official estimates-More than 2,500,000

NGO’s estimates- around 20 million.

This state using child labour were discovered and exposed by international media.

Types of child labour in India

There is an increasing involvement of children in home-based work and in the informal sector. Children are involved in the domestic, manual, agricultural sector, in hazardous factories, rag-picking, beedi-rolling, matchbox, brick kilns etc.

According to ILO, the worst types of child labour are:

  1. Slavery: Slavery is when one person works for another person. Slaves don’t have the power to demand anything. They have to work according to the commands of their master.
  2. Child Trafficking: Buying and selling of children either for labour or for sexual exploitation.
  3. Debt Bondage: When people cannot pay off their loans with their money and belongings they are often forced to work as a labour.
  4. Serfdom: When a person works on land that belongs to another person, it is known as serfdom. The labour will either be provided with some pay or no pay will be given.
  5. Forced Labour: When a child works against his/her will then it is termed as forced labour. 
  6. Beggary: When poor parents don’t have any other way to earn a living they often beg on roads. They also cut their child’s body part in order to gain sympathy and to get more money. Small children are seen on red lights asking for money for their treatments. 

Effects of child labour

Child labour is not something that needs recognition, in fact, if there is an increase in child labour then it shows that the country has failed in providing basic necessities to its citizens, especially children. In such cases, the effects of childhood are only negative. It not only deprives a child of a proper childhood but also make them the victim of physical or mental torture. The child becomes emotionally and mentally mature at an early age which is not a good sign. It does not create but also extends poverty as the child is not able to get basic education and he earns very less amount of money due to this, for his/her family. The child is also paid less. Other effects of child labour are:

  1. Children might suffer from malnutrition, drug dependency and depression.
  2. It might endangers children dignity and morals.
  3. Children may be employed forcefully and they may be sexually exploited.
  4. They might become victims of sexual and physical violence.

Child labour laws in India

As compared to other countries, child labour in India is more prevalent. Out of 179 million children, 90 million who are in the age group of 6 to 14 years are employed and they don’t go to school. It contributes to 50% of children in our country who are involved in child labour. Since 1933, various laws have been made in India to control child labour. These laws include:

  1. Minimum Wages Act, 1948: The State Government fixes minimum wages that are to be provided to the workers/labourers including the child labourers. The government fixed wages according to the type of work and according to the class of workers.
  2. The Plantation Labour Act, 1951: This Act prohibits the employment of children below the age of 12 years, but a child above the age of 12 years can be employed only when the appointed doctor issues a fitness certificate to that child.
  3. The Mines Act, 1952: This Act provides that no child should be present where the work of mining is going on and no child should be employed for such work.
  4. The Merchant Shipping Act, 1958: Except for a training ship, this Act does not allow the employment of children below the age of 14 years in a ship. Also, a person under the age of 18 years cannot be appointed as trimmers under this Act. They can only be appointed under some specific conditions mentioned in this Act.
  5. The Apprentices Act, 1961: Unless a child attains the age of 14 years and satisfy the standard of education and physical fitness test, he cannot undergo an apprenticeship training.
  6. The Indian Factories Act, 1948: No child below the age of 14 years shall be employed in a factory. Also, there are rules that a factory has to follow if they employ pre-adults that are between 15-18 years of age.
  7. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986: No child who is less than 14 years of age shall be employed in any hazardous occupations that are provided in a list by law. This list is explained further in the article. This list was amended not only in 2006 but also in 2008.
  8. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act, 2000: If any person employs a child in any of the hazardous work or use the child as a bonded labour then that person will be punishable under this Act.
  9. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009: Free and compulsory education must be provided to each and every children below 14 years of age. In fact, to follow this Act efficiently, 25% of seats are also reserved in every private school for children who belongs to the disadvantaged group and for children who are physically challenged. 
  10. Other Acts are:

Children below the age of 14 years are not allowed to work in a factory and it is expressly provided in Article 24 of the Indian Constitution and Section 67 of the Factories Act, 1948.

Free and compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14 years is provided by the Directive Principle of State Policy under Article 45 of the Indian Constitution.

Child labour laws in India its implementation and consequences

According to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 a child below the age of 14 years cannot be employed in 16 occupations and 65 hazardous processes that are dangerous to the life of a child. These occupations and processes are mentioned in Part III of this Act. The list of hazardous occupations is provided in the schedule in two parts:

  1. Part A, and
  2. Part B.

Part A lists down various occupations that prohibit the employment of children. These are:

  1. A child should not be employed in any occupation which is related to the transportation of passengers, goods and mail by railway.
  2. A child should not be employed in a building operation in railway premises or picking up cinder and cleaning the ash pit. 
  3. Occupation related to travelling from one platform to another or moving out of the train. It also includes any work related to the construction of the railway station.
  4. No child should be employed in a catering establishment at a railway station or any work which is close to the railway lines.
  5. No child is allowed to be employed by the port authority which is within the limits of any port.
  6. Shops that sell crackers and fireworks on the temporary license cannot employ children. 
  7. Slaughterhouses/ Abattoirs cannot employ children. 
  8. Employment of children are not allowed in garages and Automobile workshops 
  9. Workshops related to plastic units and fibreglass cannot employ children as workers. 
  10. Mines that are underwater and underground cannot use child labour.
  11. Industries related to handloom and power loom are prohibited from using children as labourers. 
  12. Industries that involve the use of inflammable substances or explosives cannot employ children.
  13. Children cannot be employed in foundries.
  14. It also includes occupations that involve children as domestic workers or servants. 
  15. Employment of children is also prohibited in dhabas, restaurants, hotels, tea stalls, shops, spas or any other recreational centres. 
  16. Diving is also included. 
  17. Children are not allowed to work in a circus. 
  18. Children cannot take care of an elephant.

Part B lists down various processes in which no child should be employed. These are:

  1. Processes which includes beedi making.
  2. Processes like carpet weaving.
  3. Companies related to the manufacturing of cement, as well as bagging of cement, cannot employ children.
  4. Cloth weaving and dyeing are not allowed to employ children as workers. 
  5. Matches, explosive and fireworks manufacturers are cannot employ children.
  6. Processes like mica cutting as well as splitting cannot employ children.
  7. Industries which involves shellac manufacture cannot employ children.
  8. Soap manufacturing units cannot use children as their labour.
  9. Tanning.
  10. Jobs which involve wool cleaning cannot involve children.
  11. Industries related to building and construction are prohibited to employ children.
  12. Manufacturing units related to slate pencils as well as their packing are not allowed to employ children as labourers. 
  13. If toxic metals and substances like lead, mercury, manganese, cadmium, benzene, pesticides, asbestos, chromium are used in an industry then such manufacturing industry cannot employ children.
  14. If products of agate are manufactured in any industry then such units are not allowed to employ children. 
  15. This part includes all those hazardous processes and dangerous occupations that are defined in Section 2(cb) of the Factories Act, 1948.
  16. It includes all the processes that are notified in the rule that is made under Section 87 of the Factories Act, 1948. 
  17. Printing is also included which is defined under Section 2(k) of the Factories Act, 1948.
  18. Processing and descaling of cashew and cashew nuts cannot employ children as labour.
  19. Process of soldering that is present in electronic industries also prohibits child labour. 
  20. Dent beating, printing, welding lather work that is mainly present in automobile repairs and maintenance are prohibited from having child labours.
  21. It also includes brick kilns and roof files units. 
  22. Hosier goods production, processing and ginning of cotton units cannot seek help from children.
  23. Manufacturing of detergent units cannot employ children as labour.
  24. Ferrous and non-ferrous fabrication workshop units cannot employ children as labour.
  25. Polishing of gem and its cutting are not allowed to have child labour.
  26. Where the work requires proper handling of chromites and manganese ores cannot employ children as labour.
  27. Manufacturing of textile and the making of coir are not allowed to have child labour.
  28. Manufacturing of lime and lime kilns. 
  29. Lock making units are not allowed to have child labour.
  30. Units which involves manufacturing of glass, glassware, bangles, fluorescent tubes bulbs and other glass products cannot employ children as labour.
  31. It also includes processes that involve exposure to lead like primary and secondary smelting, welding etc. and works related to manufacturing of cement pipes, cement products are also included in this.
  32. Dyes manufacturer. 
  33. Units, where insecticides and pesticides are manufactured, cannot employ children as labourers.
  34. Where factories deal with handling and processing of corrosive and toxic substances, metal cleaning and photo enlarging, cannot employ children as labourers.
  35. Units where coal is burned and there is the presence of coal briquette cannot employ children as labourers. 
  36. Sports goods manufacturing which also involves synthetic materials, chemicals and leather cannot employ children as labourers.
  37. Fibreglass and plastics moulding and processing units cannot employ children as labourers.
  38. Oil-expelling, refinery units cannot employ children as labourers.
  39. Units which makes the paper cannot employ children as labourers.
  40. Industries related to potteries and ceramic cannot employ children as labour.
  41. Units, where moulding, cutting, polishing, welding and manufacturing of Brass goods is done, are not allowed to have child labourers. 
  42. In agriculture, children are not employed where tractors, threshing and harvesting machines are used. 
  43. All processes that included in sawmill are not allowed to have child labourers. 
  44. Processes related to sericulture are not allowed to have child labourers. 
  45. Lather products manufacturing, skinning dyeing are not allowed to have child labourers. 
  46. Crushing and breaking of stone units are not allowed to have child labour. 
  47. Manufacture of tobacco, its paste or handling it in any form is not allowed to have child labourers. 
  48. Activities that are related to graphite beneficiation, tyre making and its repairing, re-trading are not allowed to have child labourers. 
  49. Polishing of utensils and buffing of metal units cannot employ children as labourers.
  50. All processes related to Zari making cannot employ children as labourers.
  51. Manufacturing units related to incense stick cannot employ children as labour.
  52. Electroplating. 
  53. Processes that include graphite powdering and incidental processing cannot employ children as labour.
  54. Units cannot employ children as labour.
  55. Industries, where diamond cutting and polishing is done, cannot employ children as labour.
  56. Units that extract slate from mines cannot employ children as labour.
  57. Children are not allowed to do rag picking and scavenging. 
  58. The processes which involve exposure of children to either excessive heat or excessive cold. 
  59. Mechanised fishing is also included in this. 
  60. Food processing units cannot employ children. 
  61. Children cannot work in the beverage industry. 
  62. Where there is work like timber handling and loading children cannot work there. 
  63. Mechanical lumbering.
  64. Warehousing is also included in this. 
  65. It also includes processes which include exposure to stone grinding, stone quarries.

Also, on 10th December 1996, the Supreme Court issued a direction which provided for the recovery notice that was issued to the offending officers to collect a sum of Rs. 2,000 per child that was employed under the provision of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. A child should not be employed in hazardous occupations. Moreover many states including Haryana have opened child labour rehabilitation cum welfare funds. This is opened at a district level. Separate labour cells have also been made to address the issue of child labour. To provide non-formal education and pre-vocational skills, in 1998 National Child Projects have been implemented by the Central Government. To educate poor and employed children in all the states Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan have been launched in 2001. Non-formal education and vocational training are provided by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. For children’s welfare and their physical, mental, educational development Anganbadies have also been set up.

Obstacles in the proper implementation of child labour laws

The big obstacle in the proper implementation of child labour laws are as follows:

  1. Non-awareness: Non-awareness among people about the labour laws in India is a cause for its poor implementation.
  2. Poverty: There is a vicious circle of poverty. Many families live below the poverty line and they cannot support their living so they send their children to work. 
  3. Illiteracy: People who are illiterate are not aware of the rules and regulations due to lack of education. 
  4. Lack of political will: Another obstacle is lack of political will as well as the ineffective role played by the government in removing child labour.
  5. Lack of efficiency: Due to inefficient administrative machinery the labour laws are not implemented properly.
  6. Unemployment: People are not able to earn due to unemployment so they send their children to work in order to earn more.
  7. Will of parents: Some parents don’t wish to send their children to school rather than they send them to fields to work for them.
  8. Lack of educational and health facilities: Due to the lack of these facilities labour laws are not implemented properly.

Child labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Rules, 2017

With the consultation of the stakeholders, the Government of India amended the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Central Rules, 1986. Broad rules were provided on prevention, protection, prohibition, rescue and rehabilitation of child and adolescent workers. Artists have been provided with safeguards like working hours or working conditions. These safeguards are provided to those who have been given permission to work under this act. It also gives the definition of family with respect to the child. It lays down the duties and responsibilities of enforcement agencies so that all work is done according to the provisions that are provided in this act.

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Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016

This Act came into force on 1.9.2016. This act completely prohibits the employment of children who are less than 14 years of age and adolescent employment in case of hazardous occupations and processes. This Act also regulated the working conditions where the employment of an adolescent is not prohibited. This Act also provides for punishment in case of violation of any provision of this Act and the employment of children below the age of 14 years would be considered as a cognizable offence. The Appropriate Government can empower the District Magistrate with some powers and duties for the enforcement of the provisions of this Act. For effective implementation of this Act, the State Action Plan is provided to all the States/Union Territories.

Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986

This Act provides the definition of a child. It states that a child is a person who has not yet completed 14 years of age. This Act not only regulates the hours of work but also the working conditions of child labourers and prohibit employment of child labour in hazardous industries. Article 24 of the Indian Constitution provides that no child who is less than 14 years of age should be employed in any hazardous industries.

Child Labour Act, 1986

The employment of children who are less than 14 years of age is prohibited by various acts but neither a procedure was laid down for this nor there were provisions made to regulate the working conditions of the child labourers who were employed in exploitative conditions. So, for this, a comprehensive Act was enacted known as the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. For this, a bill was introduced in the Parliament called the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Bill to achieve these objectives. After the recommendation made by Gurupadswamy Committee 1976, the Child Labour Act 1986 was passed on 23 December 1986. It was the Act number 61 of 1986.

This Act is divided into four parts which include 26 Sections and two Articles A&B. The act is as follows:

  1. Part I: Preliminary. It includes Section 1 which talks about the short title, extent and commencement of this Act and Section 2 talks about the various definitions that are included in this Act.
  2. Part II: Prohibition of Employment of Children in Certain Occupations and Processes. It includes Section 3,4,5 of this Act. There are two Articles A&B that are concerned with Section 3. Section 3 lists down various occupations and processes that are already mentioned whereas Section 4 talks about the power to amend this Act and Section 5 states that the Central Government is empowered to form a Child Labour Technical Advisory Body.
  3. Part III: Regulation of Conditions of Work of Children. It includes Section 6 to 13 in it. Section 6 includes an application that can be filed, Section 7 talks about the hours and period of work whereas Section 8 talks about the weekly holidays. Section 8 states that how can a notice to the inspector is filed and Section 10 talks about what to do when there is a dispute as related to the age. According to Section 11 maintenance of register is compulsory and Section 12 and 13 talks about other formalities.
  4. Part IV: Miscellaneous consists of Section 14 to Section 28 of the Act. This part talks about provisions related to penalties, the appointment of inspectors, the power to make rules, the power to remove difficulties etc.

Child Labour Act, 2016 

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2016 was passed by the Parliament in July 2016. This Act not only amends the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act, 1986 but also widen its scope and provides for strict punishments in case of its violation. The Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act, 1986 ban the employment in 83 hazardous occupations and processes for the children who are less than 14 years of age. The salient provisions of this Act are as follows:

  1. In every occupations and enterprise, this Act completely prohibits the employment of children who are less than 14 years of age. But if the child is employed in a family business and his/her education is not hampered then he/she can continue to be employed.
  2. A new category of persons is added in this act which is known as “adolescent”. These are the children who are more than 14 years of age but less than 18 years. They are prohibited to take employment in any hazardous occupations.
  3. Child labour is made a cognizable offence through this Act. If a child is employed when he/she is less than 14 years of age then the employer will be liable for imprisonment from 6 months to 2 years or he/she will be liable for a penalty of twenty thousand or fifty thousand or both for the first time. But in the case of a habitual offender, the employer is liable for jail between 1 year to 3 years. If the parent is the offender then a sum of Rs.10,000 is made payable as a fine and the parents are subject to relaxed penal provisions.
  4. Rehabilitation Fund for the purpose of rehabilitation of children is created under this Act. 
  5. The hazardous occupation is brought down from 83 to 3. The Union Government is empowered under this act to add or delete any occupation from the list that is provided in this act. The three occupations that are considered as hazardous are mining, inflammable substances and hazardous processes that are provided in the Factories Act, 1948. 
  6. This Act provides power to the Government to make a periodic inspection to areas where the employment of children is banned. 
  7. In order to ensure that the provisions of the law are properly implemented, for this, the Government can give power to the District Magistrate.

After the passing of this Act, now, the Indian law is also aligned with the convention of ILO. A complete ban on child labour is put so that under the Right to Education every child can get a compulsory education. The Act also realised and allowed children to help their families and run their family business. The penalty for violating the provisions of this act is also increased and it is made as a cognizable offence.

Child labour laws in India pdf

One can refer to the Act and can study the provisions in detail. To see the Act click here

  1. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986,
  2. Child Labour Act (Prohibition and Regulation), 2016

Constitutional Provisions for Child Upliftment

Various constitutional provisions have been provided for the child upliftment such as:

Article 21A: Right to Education

Article 21A of the Indian Constitution states that free and compulsory education must be provided to each and every child who is between the age of 6 to 14 years. Free and compulsory education must be provided in a manner laid down by the State and in a manner law determines.

Article 24: Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc.

Article 24 of the Indian Constitution states that no child who is less than 14 years of age shall be employed in any hazardous factories or occupations or industries.

Article 39: The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing

Article 39(e) of the Indian Constitution states that the factories or industries in which labours are employed, the employer should not abuse the health and strength of the workers be it man, woman or children of tender age. It also provides that citizens due to their economic necessity should not be forced to enter into any employment that is unsuited to their age, health or strength.

Legislative Provisions Prohibiting and Regulating Employment of Children

There are some legislative provisions that not only prohibits but also regulate the employment of children. These are:

  1. According to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 a child is a person who is less than 14 years of age.
  2. Section 3 of this Act contains a schedule which provides with various hazardous occupations and processes that abolishes the employment of children. 
  3. A Technical Advisory Committee is also constituted under this Act which can add more occupations and processes which they considered hazardous for children. 
  4. This Act also regulates the conditions of employment and working hours in all the occupations and processes which are not covered under Part III. 
  5. If there is a violation under Section 3 of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 then he/she will be liable for penalties under Section 14 of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. He/she will be punished with imprisonment not less than three months and it can extend to 1 year or fine which is not less than ten thousand rupees which can also extend to twenty thousand rupees or with both. 
  6. The provision of this Act is enforced by the Central and the State Government in their respective spheres. 

ILO core conventions related to Child Labour

International Labour Organisation [ILO] was established in 1919. It is a U.N. agency for setting up the labour standards, develop policies and formulate programmes in order to promote work for all women and men. The ILO brings the government, employers and workers representatives of 187 member states together. Conventions and Recommendations are set up by the International Labour Standards. This was the principal action of ILO. The countries that ratify the conventions of the international treaties and instruments create an obligation which is legally binding with the same whereas the Recommendations are not only non-binding but they set out the guidelines orienting the national policies as well as the actions. There are 8 fundamental conventions of the ILO. These are:

  1. Convention number-29: Forced Labour Convention.
  2. Convention number-105: Abolition of Forced Labour Convention.
  3. Convention number-100: Equal Remuneration Convention.
  4. Convention number-111: Discrimination(Employment Occupation) Convention.
  5. Convention number-87: Freedom of Association and Protection of Right to Organised Convention.
  6. Convention number-98: Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention.
  7. Convention number-138: Minimum Age Convention.
  8. Convention number-182: Worst form of Child labour Convention.

Convention number 138 that is the minimun age for admission to employment and Convention number 182 that is the worst forms of child labour are directly related to child labour and this is ratified by India.

Convention Number 138 – Minimum Age

The ILO convention number 138 was adopted by the International Labour Conference in June 1973 at its 58th session. This convention is also known as one of the basic human rights conventions. ILO actively takes part to promote its ratification. Any country who ratified it has to undertake:

  1. For effective abolition of child labour, each country has to design a national policy. 
  2. It also specifies the age for the entry to employment and that age should not be less than the age which is necessary for compulsory schooling. 
  3. There should be fully physical and mental development of young people. 
  4. There should be a guarantee that the minimum age required for the entry in employment should not compromise the health, safety and morals of the young people and it should not be less than 18 years of age. 

Convention No.182 on Worst Forms of Child Labour

This convention of ILO accompanies the Recommendation number 190. It was adopted by the ILO in its 87th session which was held at Geneva in June 1999. It is referred to as one of the basic “Human Rights Conventions”. The main provisions of this convention are:

  1. The term child will be applicable to all the persons under the age of 18 years. 
  2.  The worst form of child labour comprises of:
  • All forms of slavery and also the practices of slavery. It includes sale, trafficking, debt bondage, serfdom, forced labour, forced labour for use in armed conflict. 
  • Procuring or use and trafficking of children for illicit activities. It also includes the production and trafficking of drugs that is defined in some relevant international treaties. 
  • Using the child for prostitution or pornography or pornographic performances.
  • It also includes any work that not only harms the health but also the safety and morals of the children.

Article 23 of the Indian constitution

Article 23 and 24 of the Indian Constitution provides for the Right against Exploitation.

Human trafficking and forced labour like beggar is prohibited under Article 23 of the Indian Constitution. The term “beggar” was defined when the British Government and the zamindars used to force the people to carry their goods along with them when they move from one place to another, these people were called beggars. This was called forced labour also because no remuneration was provided to such people. Human trafficking is the modern form of slavery as there is an illegal trade of human beings for various commercial purposes like sexual exploitation, prostitution or forced labour. 

The government passed the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 and the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 according to the provisions that are provided in the Constitution of India. The State cannot pay workers less than the prescribed minimum wages even if it takes up any relief work. Reasonable wages are to be paid to the prisoners who are sent for rigorous imprisonment. The Supreme Court has provided that if the prisoners are not provided with any such wages then this will not be considered as a violation of Article 23 of the Indian Constitution. The persons who are under simple imprisonment or preventive detention cannot be made to do manual work but they can do the work if they want and they would require wages.

Forced Labour arises not only out of physical and legal force but also out of compulsion due to the economic circumstances. It is completely banned. The Supreme Court of India in the case of People’s Union for Democratic Rights and others Vs. Union of India and others [5] which is also known as Asiad Workers Case provided that when a person provides a service that is a labour service and in return he/she gets remuneration less than the minimum wage then this case falls clearly in the scope of forced labour which is covered by Article 23 of the Indian Constitution.

Minimum age for domestic help in India

According to the Constitution of India, if a child is below the age of 14 years then he/she can not be employed in any factory or mine or any hazardous occupation. The minimum age that is required for employment is 14 years. If this rule is violated then fine and imprisonment can be imposed. For more than six hours a day, no child is allowed to work. These six hours include one hour of rest after three hours of work. Children are not allowed to work at night that is between 7 p.m and 8 a.m and they are also not allowed to do overtime.

Minimum age for hazardous work

The minimum age requirement for hazardous work is 18 years. The children cannot do night work between (22:00 to 6:00) and overtime for more than four and a half hours. All hazardous occupations and processes are defined in the above Article. These are contained in Section 3 of the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act, 1986 in Part A and Part B.

Legal Age for Working in India

Children who are less than 14 years of age cannot be employed in any of the occupations or factories. If employed, the employer will be liable for penalties. And the children who are more than 14 years of age and less than 18 years of age cannot be employed in any of the hazardous occupations or processes.

Children under 14 Years of Age

Any child who has not yet crossed the age of 14 years will not be employed in any occupation. But this restriction is not applicable if the child is employed in his/her own family business and his/her education is also not hampered. Also, a child of this age can work as an artist in industries like audio-visual entertainment, advertisements, films, television serials or any other sports activities but the circus is not included in this.

Adolescents – 14 to 18 Years of Age

According to Section 7 of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 no child is allowed to work for more than the prescribed hours. No child will work between 7 p.m and 8 a.m and no child will work for more than three hours per day and the period of three hours can be extended if the child gets a rest interval for one hour. No overtime is allowed.

To employ an adolescent following conditions must be satisfied:

  1. The period of work should not exceed three hours. 
  2. Work in more than one establishment is not allowed for an adolescent.
  3. A holiday of one whole day must be provided to every adolescent. 
  4. After working for three hours there should be a rest interval for one hour. 
  5. An adolescent can only work for six hours a day and not more than that. 
  6. Between 7 p.m and 8 a.m, no adolescent can work.
  7. They cannot be forced to do overtime.

Rules for Employing Adolescents

A register with the following information must be maintained by each and every employer employing an adolescent worker:

  1. Name and date of birth of the adolescent worker.
  2. Hours and periods of work he/she is employed for. 
  3. The amount of rest interval provided.
  4. The nature of work the adolescent is doing.

The following information must be sent by the employer to the Local Inspector within 30 days of employing an adolescent:

  1. Location and the name of the establishment. 
  2. The name of the person who has the authority of actual management of the establishment. 
  3. Address on which communications can be sent.
  4. The nature of processes or occupation that is carried out in the establishment. 

Punishment for Violation of Child Labour Laws

The punishment that is provided in case of violation of labour laws are:

If there is a violation under Section 3 of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 then the employer will be liable for penalties under Section 14 of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. He/she will be punished with imprisonment for not less than three months and it may be extended to 1 year or fine which is not less than 10,000 rupees which can also extend to 20,000 rupees or with both. If the offender is liable for continuing offence under Section 3 of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 then he/she will be punishable for not less than 6 months and it can extend to 2 years.

Child labour policies in India

Following are the child labour policies in India:

National Policy on Child Labour

Policy

The National Policy of Child Labour that was incorporated in August 1987 provides the action plan that tackles the problem of child labour. It contains:

  1. The legislative action plan. 
  2. General development programmes for the benefit of every child.
  3. Project-based action plans that launch the projects in the areas where there is a huge amount of child labour, for the welfare of children.

To rehabilitate the children who are involved in child labour the National Child Labour Policy [NCLP] was started. At first, it aims at rehabilitating the children that are employed in hazardous occupations and processes. For this, the sequential approach was adopted. After the survey on the children that are employed in hazardous occupations and processes, an order was given to withdraw children from those occupations and to provide them with schooling in special schools.

Legislative Action Plan

This plan was formulated for the strict implementation of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 and other labour laws. It was made to withdraw the children that are employed in hazardous occupations and processes and make sure that the children are not employed in such activities again and also to regulate the working conditions of those children who are involved in non-hazardous employment. This plan can also identify other occupations and processes as hazardous if they are detrimental to the health and the safety of the children.

Government has been actively taking steps to tackle the problem of child labour by enforcing strict legislative provisions and by providing rehabilitation centres. State Governments have developed various authorities and they have been conducting regular inspections as well as raids to areas where there are cases of violation. Poverty is the root cause of this problem so the State Government is providing the rehabilitation centres in order to improve the economic conditions of poor families.

Right to Education Bill

In 2009, the Right to Education Bill was introduced by the Government of India in order to make education reach everywhere. Implementing this Act at the grassroots level will help to eradicate child labour. 

Rehabilitation of Children Working in Hazardous Occupations

By setting up special schools, the Government of India has formulated a programme in order to remove child labour from hazardous occupations and rehabilitate them. Till now, around 2 million children are withdrawn from the hazardous occupations and processes and are enrolled in special schools which provide them basic education, vocational training, monthly stipends, nutrition and health checkups.

Child labour still a big challenge

Despite of several laws that are enforced in India which prohibits the child labour still, there are many children who are employed in homes, nearby restaurants and factories across the country. Including sexual and mental abuse, these children are also subjected to various other types of exploitation. June 12 is observed as Anti-Child Labour Day but activists expressed that due to lack of enforcement of the Child Labour Act, 1986 still there are many cases of child labour all around the world. Moreover, we often encounter child labour several times in our daily life whom we called as a “chhotu” yet we make them do our work rather than helping them and putting them in a rehabilitation centre and help them achieve a good life ahead. Child Labour is still a big challenge that needs to combat in our society. 

Role of society in child labour

In society, child labour is affected by various factors like poverty, lack of education, population and industrialization. If there is overpopulation then there will be more number of family members that will lead to more food, so in order to provide a living to their family children have to work, so, in this way, children become the victims of factory owner’s greed. If there is overpopulation then there will be not enough food which will lead to malnutrition, poor education, high birth rates, unemployment/underemployment, unequal wealth distribution, low income, low savings and investments, lack of technology and at last low of productivity. 

When there is industrialization, the huge factories are set up which not only need more labour but also prefer child as a labour. Due to lack of education parents don’t understand the importance of education and send their children to work due to family circumstances. 

Society plays a big role in increasing the child labour because after knowing all about what kind of evil child labour is and how badly it affects the life of a child they still prefer small kids as their workers in large numbers not only because they are unaware about the minimum wages but also due to unawareness about their rights and duties and it serves as an advantage to all the employers. The employers make them work for longer hours and pay less. So in order to protect children from this evil, the attitude of society that one should be benefited in each and every circumstance must change. Every time one should not only think about his/her benefits but sometimes it is good to think about how to save a child’s life rather than making it worse by one’s own conduct.

Initiatives against child labour in India

Many initiatives were taken by the government as well as non-government organisations in order to curb the problem of child labour in India.

Government initiatives against child labour in India

In 1979, the Gurupadswamy Committee was formed to know and find all about the child labour and ways to tackle it. Based on the recommendations of this committee, the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act was enacted in 1986. To rehabilitate children that are working in hazardous occupations National Policy on Child Labour was formulated. In 1988, 100 industry-specific National Child Labour Projects were implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Employment. To combat the growing problem of child labour the Indian Government has provided various numbers of Acts, laws, organizations and institutions. These include the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act, 1986, this Act provides the definition of a child. It states that a person who has not completed the age of 14 years is considered as a child. This Act not only regulates the hours of work but also the working conditions of child labourers and prohibit the employment of child labour in hazardous industries and to rehabilitate the children involved in child labour, the National Child Labour Policy [NCLP] was started in 1988. At first, it aims at rehabilitating the children that are employed in hazardous occupations and processes. For this, the sequential approach was adopted. 

According to the report of Osment, many NGOs like:

  1. Care India, 
  2. Child Rights and You, 
  3. Global March against child labour,

are implemented to combat child labour by providing education and various resources. However, these efforts proved to be unsuccessful.

Non-Governmental Organisations

NGOs are working to protect the children from the evil of child labour. These NGOs include Bachpan Bachao Andolan, Child Rights and You (CRY), Global March against child labour, Talaash Association, ChildFund, Care India, RIDE India, Childline etc. Many public interest litigations have also been filed on the problem of child labour like “PIL on child labour” which is also known as “Hemant Goswami vs. Union of India” [6]. 

In this case, a PIL was filed by a social activist Hemant Goswami. A writ was filed that provided there were violation and non-compliance of provisions of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 by the Union and the States. Adv. APS Shergill who appeared for the petitioner also cited examples where children were made to work in Punjab University. They also claimed that when these children are recognized they are more victimised rather than rehabilitated. Goswami and the petitioner Vishavjyoti undertook a survey in order to find the number of child labour in the region. The Court held that the person below the age of 18 years is to be treated as a child. There is now a constitutional obligation to follow the provisions of the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act, 1986 and to provide free and compulsory education for them. Facilities have to be made which provide free education. 

Demography of child labour 

In India, child labour is affected by the factors like poverty, lack of education, population and industrialization etc. According to the Save the Children report, children between 14-17 years of age are engaged in hazardous occupations and processes which is equal to 62.8% of India’s total child labour and there are more boys than girls that is 38.7 million boys are engaged and 8.8 million girls. In rural India, 80% of the children were found working. According to the reports of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), there is a 54% increase in child labour in urban areas than in rural areas.[7]

The Campaign Against Child Labour study provides that approximately 12,666,377 child labour is present in India. Uttar Pradesh has 19,27,997 child workers and Delhi, the capital of India has over 1 million child workers. Other states with approximately similar figures are Bihar, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.[8]

The National Sample Survey [NSSO] claims that child labour rates are highest among Muslim Indians that is 40% higher than Hindu Indians. There is less child labour in minority religion in India. The rate of child labour in the tribal population is 3.8%. Due to malnutrition, India has more number of child labour that is 48.2% which is equal to Colombia’s population.[9]

According to the report of Children’s Stolen Childhood’s population, 3.1 million children are part of India’s workforce.[10]

CRY

Child Rights and You [CRY] is a non-governmental and non-profitable organisation that was made in order to provide basic children rights to those children who are deprived of it. It was established in 1976. This organisation was started by Rippan Kapur. A simple decision was made by 7 friends to change the lives of India’s underprivileged children. With only 50 rupees and a dining table as resources, these 7 people belief to change the lives of the children who were suffering. This was how this organisation began. This organisation is open for donations so that people worldwide can participate and help in changing the lives of children who are stuck in child labour for a better future. Also, a lot of people can participate in rehabilitating these children by working in this organisation. 

Survival, development, protection and participation are the four basic rights on which this organisation focuses. There are some basic Foundation Principles on which CRY works, these are:

  1. Survival: This right is related to the right to life, health, nutrition, name, nationality, in short, it consists of the right to survival.
  2. Development: This right aims to provide education, care, leisure and recreation for the development.
  3. Protection: This right aims at protection from exploitation, abuse and neglect.
  4. Participation: This right aims at providing equal opportunity for participation in expression, information, thought and religion.

These principles are applied to everyone without any discrimination. All categories of children like street children, children of sex workers, physically and mentally challenged children, children who are there in juvenile institutions, children who are there in privileged homes, children who are trapped in bonded labour. 

Mission Statement of CRY is to make people take responsibility of the prevailing situation in India and also motivate them to face the situation by collective actions and give the child and themselves equal opportunities to realise their full potential.

Core CRY Principles

Core CRY Principles are as follows:

  1. There should be sustainable changes. 
  2. There should be constructive engagement with all the stakeholders.
  3. There must be accountability and transparency. 
  4. There must be secularism. 
  5. There must be non-violence.
  6. There should be multi-layered interventions that address services, networking and advocacy.

CRY India

CRY looks for promising and grassroots NGOs and provides them with financial, managerial help so that they can achieve sustainability. They provide various types of support like financial requirement, material requirement, information support etc. Since this organisation was set up, more than 300 child initiatives have been implemented which made a positive impact on the lives of millions of children. CRY is a form of a partner which combines with any other NGO who is in need. Its partnership is in the form of direct action that is working with the children and community directly, building capacities in which they provide inputs in the area of organisation building etc. Through networking, in order to make collective efforts, they bring all the organisations working in the same area together and through influencing they influence the Government to make more child policies to save them from various atrocities. CRY also work with some other NGOs at regional, national or state level. These states are Maharashtra, Orissa, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Tamil Nadu. CRY is a part of various alliances such as Campaign Against Child Labour [CACL], End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism [ECPAT], Donor Agency Network [DAN] and also with the National Alliance for the Fundamental Rights to Education [NAFRE].

CRY follows simple criteria for supporting and take initiative by focusing on children, nascent initiatives. They give priority to the projects where there are no other projects in force and it works basically on its vision and commitment. 

If someone wants to work with CRY then they can file an application according to the format that is prescribed. The branch will shortlist the application, then after the recommendation from the heads and approval from the Board of Trustees, the selection is done.

CRY offices in India

  • CRY-DELHI:

DDA Slum Wing (Barat Ghar), Kotia Mubarakpur,

New Delhi-110003

PHONE NUMBER- 24693137, 4790/3159

FAX NUMBER- 24632302m

EMAIL- [email protected] 

  • CRY-MUMBAI:

189 A, Aisand Estate, Sane Guaiji Marg,

Mumbai-400011

PHONE NUMBER-23096845/6472

FAX NUMBER-23080726

EMAIL- [email protected] 

  • CRY-BANGALORE:

Madhavi Mansion, 13/3-1, Bachammal Road,

Cox Town, Bangalore- 560005

PHONE NUMBER-25484952/8574

FAX NUMBER-2547355

EMAIL- [email protected] 

  • CRY-CHENNAI:

57/2P.S.Sivaswamy

Salai (Sullivan Garden Road), Mylapore,

Chennai-600004

PHONE NUMBER-24996984/24671828

FAX NUMBER-24672407

EMAIL- [email protected] 

  • CRY-KOLKATA:

511, Jodhpur Park,

Kolkata 700068

PHONE NUMBER-24148118/8055

FAX NUMBER-24148030

EMAIL- [email protected]

WEBSITE: httpmailto:[email protected]://www.cry.org/

How to stop child labour

Child labour can be stopped through various measures. By analysing the situation, reviewing national laws regarding child labour. By taking protective measures like checking the age of the employees, identifying the hazardous works and carrying out a workplace risk assessment, child labour can be brought under control. Immediate actions are required by not hiring children below the age of 14 years, removing children from hazardous work or reducing the hours for children and providing them with at least minimum age can help in lowering the rate of child labour or making the position of these children in the society better. 

Strategic actions like applying a safety and health management system, using collective bargaining agreements, providing a code of labour practices. By supporting education and children that are found trapped in child labour, this problem can be reduced. We should adapt our business to a child labour free environment and make sure that new suppliers don’t use child labour. If required, one or more monitoring systems should be set up.

Conclusion

Child labour is still a problem before the nation. The various measures have been taken by the Government to deal with this problem of child labour actively. However, due to the socio-economic problems like poverty, illiteracy which are the main cause of child labour, it cannot be solved unless and until there are collective efforts of all the members of the society. If every individual takes the responsibility of child labour then this problem can be solved and we can have a better and developed India. If the public supports the functions of the Government then the problem of child labour can be controlled to a great extent. It is important to spread the awareness about the evil of child labour and make people understand that it is important for a child to grow and enjoy his/her childhood as they are future of our country. 

References 

  1. https://libguides.ilo.org/child-labour-en
  2. http://unicef.in/Whatwedo/21/Child-Labour
  3. https://www.ilo.org/newdelhi/whatwedo/publications/WCMS_557089/lang–en/index.htm
  4. Child Labour Crisis in Diamond Industry”. BBC News. 26 October 1999. Retrieved 8 September 2009., “A future without child labour” (PDF). The International Labour Organization, Geneva. 2002. ISBN 92-2-112416-9, “India: Freeing the Small Hands of the Silk Industry”. (Germany). 2010, Tainted Carpets: Slavery and Child Labor in India’s Hand-Made Carpet Sector, Enforcing the ban”. The Hindu. Chennai, India. 20 October 2006. Retrieved 20 October 2009., “Modern slavery and child labour in Indian quarries – Stop Child Labour
  5. People’s Union for Democratic Rights and others Vs. Union of India and others,1982
  6. Hemant Goswami vs. Union of India, CWP 2693 of 2010/ 9968 of 2009
  7. “Save the Children India | Statistics of Child Labour in India State Wise
  8. “Save the Children India | Statistics of Child Labour in India State Wise”
  9. “Child Labour | UNICEF”
  10. Magnitude of Child Labour in India Archived 8 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine Table 12, Section 8.12, Government of India

 

 

 

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