By- Krishna Kanta Chetia
In our society we often see children working in eatery sector. Specially, at petty tea stalls children are engaged to wash utensils and to clean up the tables. At most of the garages young boys are assigned to carry vehicle parts, wrenches, and disintegrate the vehicle parts etc. At brick fields,child labour can be found in abundance. Irrespective of their names they are being called as ‘puwali’. We, the so called educated class of the society don’t bother being served by a child. We enjoy being served, whether at a tea stall or at a vehicle workshop irrespective of the age of the man serving.
According to a 2008 study by the International Labour Organization (ILO), an agency of United Nation whose mandate is to advance social justice and promote decent work by setting international labour standard, among the most important factors driving children to harmful labour is the lack of availability and quality of schooling. Many communities, particularly rural areas do not possess adequate school facilities. Even when schools are sometimes available, they are too far away, difficult to reach or unaffordable. In government-run primary schools, even when children show up, government-paid teachers do not show up 25% of the time.
Bonded child labour, under which the child, or child’s parent enter into an agreement, oral or written, with a creditor and the child is being partly forced to perform work as in-kind repayment of credit is very much prevalent almost everywhere.
In comparison to boys, girls are more likely to be out of school and working in a domestic role. Parents with limited resources, have to choose whose school costs and fees they can afford when a school is available. Educating girls tends to be a lower priority across the world, including India which often leads to provide child labour.
In some communities, parents believe children learn important life lessons through the act of work and through the participation in daily life. Working is seen as a learning process preparing children of the future tasks they will eventually have to do as an adult. They also see work as an intrinsic part of their child’s developmental process.
As per ILO,Child labour refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children. Further, it can involve interfering 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. As per UNICEF a child of the age between 5 to 11 years can be called is involved in child labour activities if he or she did at least one hour of economic activity or at least 28 hours of domestic work in a week, and in case of children between 12 and 14 years of age, he or she did at least 14 hours of economic activity or at least 42 hours of economic activity and domestic work per week. India’s census 2001 office, defines child labour as participation of a child less than 17 years of age in any economically productive activity with or without compensation, wage or profit. Such participation could be mental or physical or both. This work includes part time help or unpaid work at farm, family enterprise or any other economic activity such as cultivation and milk production for sale or domestic consumption.
The National census of India, 2011 found the total number of child labours, between the age group 5-14 to be at 10.1 million ofthe total child population 259.64 million which stands at nearly 3.9 percent. It is believed that presently more than150 million child labour are there in the world.
After its independence from British rule, India has passed a number of constitutional protections and laws on child labour. The Constitution of India in the Fundamental rights and the Directive Principles of State policy prohibits child labour below the age of 14 years in any factory or mine or castle or engaged in any other hazardous employment. Labour being a subject in the concurrent list, both the central and state government can and have legislated on child labour. The Factories Act of 1948 prohibits the employments of child below the age of 14 years in any factory. The employment of children below 18 years of age in a mine was banned by the Mine Act, 1952. By the Act of Child and Adolescent Labour ( Prohibition and Regulation), 1986 children between age of 14 and 18 are defined as “Adolescent” and the law allows adolescents to be employed except in the listed hazardous occupation and processes which include mining, inflammable substance and explosive related work and any other hazardous process as per Factories Act, 1948. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2015 made the child labour a crime, punishable with prison term, for anyone to keep a child in bondage for the purpose of employment.
The government of India formulated National policy on child labour in 1987. This Policy seeks to adopt a gradual & sequential approach with a focus on rehabilitation of children working in hazardous occupations. It envisioned strict enforcement of Indian laws on child labour combined with development programs to address the root causes of child labour such as poverty. In 1988, this led to the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) initiative. This legal and development initiative continues, with the central government funding billions of rupees, targeted solely to eliminate child labour in India. Despite these efforts, child labour remains a major challenge for India. Until and unless the abled society refuse to accept service of a child;worthiness of a small family does not penetrate in the lower class of the society; poverty and consequently the child labour eradication will be a far cry.