Organised Vs Un Organised Child Labourers

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Organised Vs Un Organised Child Labourers

 

Author: DR. SHAILESH N HADLI.

BAL,LLB, LLM, PhD.

RNPI School of Law & Justice

We are guilty of many errors and many faults but our worst crime is abandoning the children, neglecting the fountain of life, many of the things we need can wait, The Child cannot. Right now is the time his bones are being formed, his blood is being made and his senses are being developed, to him we cannot answer tomorrow his name is today…” Gabri A Mistral.

Existence of child labour can be traced from long decade but the labour to the child was utilised in a minimum and the limited manner. But as a result of Industrial Revolution it took the worst ever turn which we can find till the present date. During the Industrial Revolution, children as young as four were employed in production under factories with dangerous and often fatal, working conditions. Based on this understanding of the use of children as labourers, it is now considered by wealthy countries to be human rights, and is outlawed, while some poorer countries may allow or tolerate child labour. Child labour can also be defined as the full-time employment of children who are under a minimum legal age.

The problem of child labour is very common in almost every country when compared to the other countries India continues to host the large number of child labourers in the world today. According to the Census, there were more than 12.7 million economically active children in the age-group of 5-14 years. Census data shows that there is a decline in the absolute number as well the percentage of children (5-14) to total population in that age group.

Broadly speaking the child labourers can be classified into two categories as Organised sector Child Labours and Un organised sector Child Labours. Organised sector child labour are those children who are below the age of 14 years and working under some organised establishment like factories, mines, Shops and establishments, Plantations, stone crushers, Brick industries, beedi and cigar manufacturing industries, cracker industries and any work place which is coming under the definition of Industries small scale or large scale, where in Un Organised child Labours don’t have any definition of its own. In simple words any person below the age of 14 years does any work for the earning or helping for the earning of his family other than as defined in the Organised Sector is considered to be child labour under Un Organised Sector. For example Rag pickers, Supplying and cleaning tea glasses, beggars, helping the parents in farm land and cattle rearing, selling papers, flowers fruits, snacks at bus stands and doing other odd jobs which distract them from going to school.

From various studies conducted by the researchers it has come to light that very often the children found in the juvenile homes are from the un-organised sectors. The reason is that these children start working from the very young age of about 5 to 6 years and start earning money. When the money comes to their hands they try to keep some of the amount with them for their personal needs and rest is given away to the family members as the time passes the their personal needs increases and the amount paid to their family members goes lower than their own requirements. Due to the money in hands the children get addicted to bad habit like smoking eating gutkas and at last drinking and many more. By the time they reach the age of 12 to 13 they become the master of all the bad habits and the income generated by them is not sufficient for themselves and they try to do something where in the easy money can be generated and at last get into the trouble landing in juvenile homes. Female child workers are also in plenty in numbers they take their siblings of 1 to 2 years of age and beg for the money to create sympathy. And some people try to exploit them by luring the money and slowly and gradually are forced towards the prostitution.

No doubt the Government of India is working hard to eliminate the concept of Child labour from India and with regard to the same has passed many legislations for the protection of the children in organised sector, for example provision under Indian Constitution, Children [Pledging of Labour] Act (1933), Employment of Children Act (1938), The Bombay Shop and Establishments Act (1948), Child Labour -Prohibition and Regulation Act, The Indian Factories Act (1948), Plantations Labour Act (1951), The Mines Act (1952), Merchant Shipping Act (1958), The Apprentice Act (1961), The Motor Transport Workers Act (1961), The Atomic Energy Act (1962), Bidi and Cigar Workers (Condition of Employment) Act (1966), State Shops and Establishments Act, Child Labour and Probhition Act 1986 and others (Proposed Child Labour and Adolescent Act 2012), But the fact remains is the existing of child labour in organised and un-organised sectors.

The ambitious plan of right to education included under the Indian Constitution can be achieved only when the organised and un-organised child labourers find their places in school rather than at the work place. The act of the Government to provide mid day meal is an benevolent act but it is insufficient as some of the working children have responded in the negative sense, stating that what if I get one time food and all other aged persons depended on me are hungry whole day and the amount I receive per day from work can make my family more happy.

Considering all the things the Government has approved the (Child Labour and Adolescent Act) increasing the age limit from 14 years to that of 16 years and making it compulsory for every children to go to school and at the same time the fine and the imprisonment has been drastically increased to Rs 50000/- and 3 years imprisonment. But unfortunately again left the agricultural labour untouched, by stating the children who support their parents in their parental (family) activities of business are not governed by this laws. This clause makes the difference between organised and un-organised sector. It is commonly seen in the rural areas of our country the presence of the students’ increases in the class/school at the time of distribution of free food and after that there will be hardly few students in the school and at the time of harvesting season the children are not at all going to schools. The Cost of living has drastically increased and due to the urbanisation and mordanisation the agricultural lands are shrinking and the cost of the agricultural activity is increasing day by day. The agricultural labourers are shifting towards the city looking for better life and employment as a result there is an acute shortage in the agricultural labourers. Under these circumstances the people doing agricultural activities are in demand and to fulfill the said demand the children are forced to take up the activity for quick money. This is the Rule of Land DEMAND AND SUPPLY.

The present proposed act Child labour and Adolescent Act  is the beneficial act whose scope is limited only to the urban population and it will be effective if the act is strictly implemented in accordance and if not done so then it will become the law limited only to the papers.

But what about the Un-Organised Child labourers where there is no proper definition about the same and what the Government of India had done for them is the big question mark. The main reason for the not making the law for this sector is these are small term labourers who groom up in no time and disappear in no time.

The main reason for not able to eradicate the child labour is the Poverty. Approximately about 25% of the Indian population leaves below the poverty line, and other major problem is the illiteracy. When we overcome these two major problems then the problem of the Child Labour will automatically perished from India.

No doubt there are many laws for the prohibition of child labourers but still it continues why? The reason is the lack of strict implementation of the existing laws. Laws are not framed to show to the world and the people that we too have the laws; the real meaning will be achieved by the strict and proper implementation of the same.

Majority of the Un-Organised Child Labourers work under the prohibited areas of work where their exist the prohibition of Child labour for example the Mouffesal bus stands, and private bus stands, Traffic signals, Railway Signals, busy places of the city and agricultural lands etc; When there are authorities for the implementation of the prohibition of child labourers then why theses authorities keep quite and allow them to grow.

The government shall strictly implement the laws in the organised sectors and see to it that the un-organised child workers does not erupt at all. As there are the governments authorities spread all over the states why they themselves cannot take steps to restrict the child workers and if some one is negligent as a result the child worker is found then why action should not be taken on such authorities. For eg Depot Manager for bus stands, Traffic police in charge for the traffic signals, railway gate in charge for the railway signals, and the Police personal on duty for the other unorganized child labourers. The person encouraging the Child labour shall be strictly dealt with the laws of the land and shall be imposed heavy fine along with the imprisonment. Then only we can remove the child labour in Organised as well as     Un Organised sectors.

“If we do not prepare children to become good citizens, if we do not develop their full capacities, if we do not enrich their minds with knowledge then our republic will go down to destruction and mankind will be swept through a vast cycle of sin and suffering before the dawn of better era can arise upon the world”

 

 

CHILD LABOUR and EXPLOITATION in India

Introduction

In the developing world the problem of child labourers has spread like a tsunami. Just like in tsunami, how one by one wave usually comes and leaves behind scenes of destruction; in the same manner every child who is exposed to child labour, one by one, moment by moment they go far away from their joyful childhood. They are exposed to more hazardous work for some pennies. They are not just giving their time for those pennies; in fact they are losing their future and childhood. The children who are working in shops and homes don’t have any idea that the works which are they doing will lead them to the pit of helplessness.

 

In India this situation is more pitiable then most other countries. Most of the cases of child trafficking take place in the rural areas. On the other hand in urban areas this condition is becoming more and more serious. In the past few years the cases of kidnapping has risen with a leap. The kidnapped children are usually collected on one place and from there they are used for begging and to do the different types of hazardous works.

In the Indian Constitution it has been explained that:

(a) No child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any hazardous employment (Article 24)

(b) Childhood and youth are to be protected against exploitation and against moral and material aban­donment (Article 39 (f)).

(c) The State shall Endeavour to provide within a period of 10 year from the commencement of the Constitution free and compulsory education for all children until they have completed the age of 14 years (Article 45).

According to a survey conducted by a Research Group sponsored by the Ministry of Labour, Government of India (1986) has reported that of the estimated 102.3 million households in the country, 34.7% had working children.

Seventy nine per cent working children are in the rural areas. Two thirds of the working children belong to the 12-15 years age-group and the rest are below 12 years. A survey conducted by the Operations Research Group (ORG) Baroda (Vadodara) in 1985 had put the figure of working children at 44.5 million.

 

The Basic Nature of the Child Labour

A majority of the working children are found in rural area. In urban areas, they are found in canteens/restau­rants, or are found engaged in picking rags and hawking goods on foot-path. But some children are working in highly hazardous conditions. Many of the children could be seen on the red lights begging for their appetite.

For examples fireworks and match box units in Sivakasi in Ramanathapuram district in Tamil Nadu employ 45,000 children. A large number of children are working in stone polishing units in Jaipur, brassware industry in Moradabad, lock making units in Aligarh, Slate- industry in Markapur (Andhra Pradesh), Mandsaur (Madhya Pradesh) and the carpet-making in Jammu and Kashmir.

 

Some Government’s Policies for Enacting Laws against Child Labor

The first Act to regulate the employment of children and their hours of work was the Factory Act of 1881. A Commission was established in 1929 to fix the minimum age of child employment, on whose recommendation, the Child Labour Act 1933 was passed prohibiting employment of children below 14 years of age.

The Factory Act of 1948 provided some safeguards to child labourers. In 1986, the Parliament enacted the Child Labour Act (Regulation and Prohibition), planning the employment of children in certain jobs and regulating the condition of work in hazardous occupations. The Juvenile Justice Act came into force on October 2, 1987 after superseding different Children’s Act of different States/UTs.

India has ratified six International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions relating to labour and three of them as early as in the first quarter of the 20th century. Through a Notification dated 27 January 1999, the Schedule to the Child Labour (Prohibi­tion and Regulation) Act, 1986, has been substantially enlarged bringing the total number of occupations and processes listed in the Schedule 13 and 51 respectively.

The National Policy on Child Labour was formulated in 1987 which enforces legal actions to protect the interests of children, makes development programmes for the benefit of child labour and projects based plan of action in the areas of high concentration of child labour. National Child Labour Projects (NCLP) has been set up to rehabilitate child labour.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in their meeting on January 20, 1999 approved continuance of the scheme of National Child Labour Project (NCLP) during the Ninth Plan. The CCEA also approved the increase in the number of such projects from 76 to 100.

The Government’s commitment to address the problem of child labour is reflected in the statement of National Agenda for Governance (1998), where it says that no child should remain illiterate, hungry/lack medical care and that measures will be taken to eliminate child labour.

The Supreme Court of India in its judgement dated December 10, 1986 has directed to pay compensation of Rs 20,000 by the offending employers for every child employed in hazardous occupations. Efforts will be made to modify the existing National Child Labour Project under the Ninth Plan.

Child Labour- An Analysis

Sri Samir Kumar Nanda

As we know Child labour is one of the most violated human rights issue .Therefore the whole world is fighting against this cruelty. Since years thousands of children are deprived of their essential qualities of childhood and are forced as cheap substitutes for adults. Child labour being a complex phenomenon cannot be dealt in an isolated manner.

HISTORY OF CHILD LABOUR

History of child labour states that industrial revolution saw children working factories, mines, and even having his own small business like selling food, flowers and doing much unusual kind of jobs. Some children started being tourist guides, some set up a small shop of their own and some opened up restaurants in their backyards and worked as waiters too. Some children however chose to be actors and singers.

Although, child labour was not new to the world, it is believed that during 1780 and 1840, there was a massive increase in child exploitation. During the Industrial revolution, it was very common to find children working in factories. In 1788, more than 60% of workers in textile mills of England and Scotland were children. Many laws were passed to eradicate child labour, but hardly succeeded.

World

Maximum Child Labours are found in Asia Pacific Region . Minimum 26% of child population of age group 5-14 in the world is engaged as child labour.

 

Extent of child labour in the world is as follows:-

MAGNITUDE OF CHILD LABOUR (GLOBAL LEVEL)

Table-1

GLOBAL ESTIMATE OF CHILD LABOUR

Sl.No

Age –Group ( Years)

Economically Active

Child Labour

In Hazardous Occupation

1

5-17

317 million

218 million

126 million

2

5-14

190.7 million

165.8 million

74.4 million

From the above tables we can imagine the status of child labour in the global level. In the Table-1 the Sl. No.2 comes in the category of child labour as the age group is within 5-14.As per Sl.No2 of the said table it is cleared that out of 190.7 million children which are economically active in the whole world 165.8 million are child labour which includes 74.4 million under hazardous occupations.

India

Maximum number of child labours are being engaged in work in India. Rehabilitation of such children is a challenge for our country. As per the Census of India, 2001, the number of child labour in our country has been estimated as 12,591,667.If we compare 1971 onwards, the phenomenon of child labour has shown an increasing trend. Child labour in India is much more of a rural phenomenon than urban. There are 90.87 per cent of the working children in the rural areas and 9.13 per cent working children in the urban areas. Govt. of India has been spending 3.5% of the total budget in the field of mass education & poverty alleviation. Although as per the report of the World Bank 75% of the Indians are below poverty line yet Govt. of India report says that only 25% are below poverty line.

 

 

MAGNITUDE OF CHILD LABOUR AT NATIONAL LEVEL

Table-2

The extent of child labour identified in different Census reports.

YEAR

NUMBER OF CHILD LABOUR

Trend

1971

10,753,985

1981

13,640,870

26% increased

1991

11,285,349

25% decreased

2001

12,591,667

12% increased

Table-2 indicates the number of child labour identified in India in different Census. If we compare the report of different Census mentioned in the above table we will find that the percentage of child labour has been increased to 26% in 1981 in comparison to 1971.Again, the percentage of child labour has been decreased to 25% in 1991 in comparison to 1981 and again increased up to 12% in 2001 in comparison to 1991. If we compare census of 1971 with that of 2001,we can see the percentage increased in 2001 up to 17.08%. So we come to a conclusion that, the percentage of child labour has been increased in all the census except in 1991. So, the number of child labour in our country is increasing and increasing instead of decreasing.

Odisha

Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has given directions to find out the number of children engaged in hazardous occupations in the year 1997.As per the survey 2,15,222 number of child labours were identified in Odisha. However, as per the 2001 Census of India 3, 77,594 child labours were found in the State of Odisha. The economic exploitation of children in Odisha has always been an area of concern. Most children work in highly exploitative conditions and all are deprived of even the most minimal educational facilities.

 

EXTENT OF CHILD LABOUR AT STATE LEVEL

Table-3

STATE

1971

1981

1991

2001

ODISHA

492477

702293

452394

377594

TREND

 

43% increased

36% decreased

17% decreased

Above table (Table-3) describes about the number of child labours identified in Odisha in the four different Census. We can observe that the percentage of number of child labour has increased 43% in the year 1981 in comparison to 1971 Census whereas the percentage has decreased up to 36% in the 1991 census in comparison to 1981 and 17% decreased in 2001 in comparison to 1991.If we compare the census report of 1971 and 2001 than we find the percentage has decreased 23%.

Western Odisha

In Western Odisha 79% of its population depends on agriculture and nearly 48% live below the poverty line. It is obvious that children are compelled to work in hazardous occupations and became vulnerable to occupational hazardous & diseases. The health of child labour is a matter of least concerned among the employers indulged in economic exploitations. The child labourers who work in insanitation conditions for long hours remained vulnerable and become disease prone and in many cases when they got diseases they are send back to their respective homes of the parents.

Table-4

PLACE 1991 1997 2001 2005
10 DISTRICTS OF WESTERN ODISHA 139526 58131 109276 149299
TREND -58% +88% +37%

The above table(Table:-4)indicates the number of child labours identified in the 10 Districts of Western Odisha during the 1991 & 2001 Census and 1997 & 2005 District Level Child labour Survey. If we observe the trend of the above figures ,we will see that, the percentage of child labour only decreased once 58 % in the year 1997 in comparison to 1991. But during the rest of the survey there is an increasing trend. In the 2001 census percentage increased up to 88% than in 1997 survey ,in 2005 survey the figure again increased to 37%.If we compare the figures of 1991 census and 2005 survey we also get that the % percentage increased up to 7% in 2005.

Child Labour-An Abominable Practice

Sri Samir Kumar Nanda

Introduction

No civilized and equitable society can tolerate the denial of their rights to its children and lay claim to being called just ‘child labour’, thus is a shur on all of us and our sensitivity.

Child labour is a pernicious practice, a denial of the joy of childhood and access to social opportunities (like education) which eventually impairs the personality and creativity of children, the evolution and growth of a full being, within the broad ambit of child labour, the plight and predicament of girl children is worse. Such a practice which is abhorrent to our social conscience should, therefore, be eradicated from our social-economic milieu.

Definition

The UN defines child labour as “any work that is likely to interfere with the child’s education, or is harmful to its physical, mental, spiritual, moral & social development”. All work is not ‘labour’ only work that is exploitative is labour.

As per the definition sec-2(ii) of the Child Labour(P & R) Act,1986,child means a person who has not completed his 14th year of age.

 

Causes

With the advent of modern industrialism there came a tendency among the employers to have quick profits at low costs. Hence, in almost all countries there is employment of children in large numbers in both hazardous & non-hazardous occupations & processes. Employing child labour is a beneficial proposition as it reduces the cost of production. Added to this, another important advantage is easy availability, easy monitoring & control.

Position in the World

According to the International Labour Organisation Report, a shocking 125 million children toil in hazardous employment such as in the production of glass, brass, locks, fireworks, matches, carpets & bidis in industrial units scattered across much of Asia(61%),Africa(32%0 & Latin America(7%0.However,as per the report in the world around 250 million child labours are engaged in different employments like hazardous works, prostitution & bonded labour in almost all developed countries.

Child labour is a worldwide phenomenon and is growing everywhere. The UNICEF State of the World Children Report,1997 indicates that even highly developed countries like the UK & the US have a large no. of children as work force. According to the US General Accounting Office, the state of this problem in the US is also very depressing, there was 250% increase in child labour during 1983-90 in the US.

Child labour accounts for 5.2% of the total labour force in India, as against 17.3% in Turkey,20.7% in Thailand,19.5% in Bangladesh,18.8% in Brazil,16.6% in Pakistan,12.4% in Indonesia,11.5% in Mexico,8.2% in Egypt,6.6% in Argentina & 4.4% in Sri Lanka.

 

Position in India

In India, with industrialization a large number of children came to be employed in hazardous works and their employment still continues in certain industries in spite of certain legal provisions as regards their age, hour of work etc.

Child labour has been an issue since the pre-independence days. With the rapid industrialization the problem has further aggravated.

The numbers of working children in 35 States & UT in the country as per the census report are as follows:-

 

Census Year No. of Child Labour identified
1971 10753985
1981 13640870
1991 11285349
2001 12591667

 

Magnitude of child labour identified by different sources:-

 

Sources Year No. of child labour identified
ILO 1975 15.10 million
  1996 23.17 million
National Sample Survey Organisation, India 1987-88 17.60 million
  1993-94 13.50 million
Planning Commission 1983 17.36 million.
Operation Research Group, Baroda 1983 44 million.

 Position in Odisha

The number of child labour in Orissa according to the Census of India are as follows:-

 

Census Year No. of Child Labour identified
1971 492477
1981 702293
1991 452394
2001 377594

 

The child labour survey conducted in the year 1997 as per the directives of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has the following startling revelations:-

22543 hazardous establishments/occupations/processes include households were surveyed out of which 13,083 were found to be employing 23,761 child labour comprising 15,356 child labour engaged in the past and 8405 engaged at present.Besides,2,32,168 non-hazardous establishments/occupations/processes including households were surveyed 1,61,728 units were found to have engaged 1,91,461 child labour out of which 1,64,783 are engaged at present and 26,678 were engaged in the past. Total of 2,15,222 child labour were found including both hazardous & non-hazardous occupations and processes as per the report.

 

Health Condition

In Odisha 79% of its population depends on agriculture and nearly 48% live below the poverty line it is obvious that children are compelled to work in hazardous occupations and became vulnerable to occupational hazardous & diseases. The Health of child labour is a matter of least concerned among the employers for indulged in economic exploitations. The child labourers who work in insanitation conditions for long hours remained vulnerable and become disease prone and in many cases when they got diseases they are send back to their respective homes of the parents.

 

Educational Conditions

The problems of child labours are in plentitude. The economical & educational status of their parents compel them to engage themselves in hard physical work. Though there is ample opportunities for their schooling, yet the parents hesitate to provide them schooling facility on the plea that the major income of the child may discontinue which will affect their daily leavings.

Economic conditions

Child labour is the outcome of so many factors. On the one hand because of the poverty the family members, especially, the parents, children go to work. On the other hand due to the backwardness and labour intensive technology in the country, there is search for cheap labour which is available in the form of child labour. The major portion of the families in our State consisted of daily wage earners. The average annual income of family vary between Rs.2619 and Rs.20,867/-.

Steps Taken by the Government:-

 

Year Steps taken by the Govt.
1979 The problem of child labour received special emphasis following the submission of the Gurupadswamy Committee report on child labour.
1986 Govt. of India formulated a comprehensive law leading with the Child Labour(P&R) Act,1986.
1987 Govt. of India adopted the National Child Labour Policy.
1992 Govt. have launched a Rs.2.77 crore Child Labour & Support Project.
1994 Govt. of India set up the National Authority for the Elimination of Child Labour.
1994 The National Child Labour Projects started in the country including Orissa.

 

Proposed Solutions for the elimination of Child labour problem:-

(i) Door to door survey should be carried out in the country by some responsible agencies in a regular interval.

(ii) All the on-going poverty alleviation and developmental programmes are to be addressed to such families in order to improve their socio-economic status.

(iii) The purpose of awareness generation should be to sensitize parents about the evils of child labour the importance of education & to facilitate them to seek assistance under various poverty alleviation programme.

(iv) Combining legislation & its enforcement.

(v) The total scheme should be made free from the interference of political members and media person.

(vi) The problem of determination of age should be rectified.

(vii) The Inspectors under the Act should be empowered fully without any interference.

(viii) The Govt. officials should be instructed to treat the Project as missionary scheme. They should make free the Project from their respective states rules, circulars.

 

Conclusion:-

The social evil is being perpetuated by parents, the industrialists, the law implementers and to a certain extent the child labourers themselves.

Unfortunately, the law-makers pass laws and the executive makes policy-statements. But, they do very little to ensure the execution of the laws which they have themselves passed or piloted. The outcome of these is the continuous spurt in child labour. The Govt. should integrate child development with the majors programme of human development, poverty & child labour are inextricably interwoven, that one cannot be eliminated without eliminating other.

Source:- (1) Labour Welfare & Personnel Management

By R.C.Saxena.

(2) V.V.Giri National Labour Institute, Noida.

(3) Competition Master

(4) Census of India Report.

(5) Ministry of Labour & Employment ,Govt. of India.

Role of Indian judiciary in protection of Rights of the Children

Sandip Bhosale

1 Introductory

The role of the India Judiciary and the scope of judicial interpretation have expanded remarkably in recent times, partly because of the tremendous growth of statutory intervention in the present era. The judiciary plays an important role in the protection of fundamental rights of the citizen and non-citizens alike. The twin safeguards of equality before law and equal protection of laws are acknowledge as two of the most important pillars of human rights of the universe of freedom that is where ever freedom to assert human rights is recognized, whether under an unwritten or a written constitution. India is the largest democracy in the world, a sovereign, socialist, secular democratic and republic with a comprehensive charter of rights written into its constitution. The Indian Constitution lays down base on which its foreign policy should be constructed and its international obligations respected. These base are articulated principally in Article 51, which occurs in Part IV of the Indian Constitution.

The true nature and scope of the function of the court has since long been a matter of debate almost in all the countries regulated by written Constitution. Austinian Jurisprudence gives a very narrow view of the judicial function. Austin defined law as a command of the political sovereign and his sovereignty was indivisible and absolute, only the legislature could make law. The function of the court was merely to declare the pre-existing law or to interpret the statutory law. But on the other hand, the realist movement in the United State the latest branch of sociological Jurisprudence which concentrates on decisions of law courts. Regards and contend that law is what court says. For them, judges are the law makers. The entire common law is the creation of the English courts but is posited on the myth that judge merely found law. Even with such self-negating perception of their own role, the English judges not only made law but also changed it to suit entirely new conditions created by the industrial revolution.In this modern era Judicial Activism emerged as tool for protecting Rights of the Children including protection from sexual exploitation, child trafficking, child abuse etc. some case dealt by the Indian judiciary for the protection of child rights are as follows

2 Child Labour and Right to Education

Education is critical for economic and social development. It is crucial for building human capabilities and for opening opportunities. The importance of education was fully recognised by classical economist and social scientist such as Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, Schultz, Becker and Amartya sen. Alfered Marshall in the Principles of Economics observed as follows:

“The wisdom of expending public and private funds on education in not to be measured by its direct fruits alone. It will be profitable as a mere investment, to give the masses of the people much greater opportunities, than they can generally avail themselves of. For by this means many, who would have died unknown, are able to get the start needed for bringing out their latent abilities. The most valuable of all capital is invested in human beings.”

The abolition of child labour must be preceded by the introduction of compulsory education since compulsory education and child labour laws are interlinked. Article 24 of the Constitution bars employment of child below the age of 14 years. Article 45 is supplementary to Article 24 for if the child is not to be employed below the age of 14 years he must be kept occupied in some educational institution. The Court in series of cases has unequivocally declared that right to receive education by the child workers is an integral part of right of personal liberty embodied in Article 21 of the Constitution. In M.C. Mehta v. State of Tamil Nadu The Supreme Court directed that children should not be employed in hazardous jobs in factories for manufacture of match boxes and fireworks, and positive steps should be taken for the welfare of such children as well as for improving the quality of their life.

In Goodricke Group Ltd v Center of West Bengal the Court held that it would be for the Centre and State/Union Territories to raise necessary resources to achieve the goal of providing free education. Recently Article 21-A has been inserted in the India Act, 2002 which provides that the state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to furteen years in such manner as the state may, by law, determine. In Unni Krishnan J.P. v State of Andhra Pradesh Justice Mohan observed “in educational institutions which are seed-beds of culture, where children in whose hands quiver the destinies of the future, are trained. From their ranks will come out when they grow up statesmen and soldiers, patriots and philosophers, who will determine the progress of the land.

3 Child Labour Welfare and the Locus Standi

The liberalization of the concept of locus standi, to make access to the court easy, is an example of the changing attitude of the Indian Courts. It is generally seen that the working children by and large come from the families, which are below the poverty line, and there are no means to ventilate their grievance that their fundamental rights are being breached with impunity. Keeping in view the pitiable conditions of the child workers, the apex court has shown its sensitivity towards the poor people by relaxing the concept of locus standi.

One important case in which Supreme Court entertained a letter, sent by post as public interest litigation was the Peoples Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India Also known as the Asiad Workers case. The Supreme Court held that though the Employment of Children Act, 1938 did not include the construction work on projects because the construction industry was not a process specified in the Schedule to the Act, yet, such construction was a hazardous occupation and under Art.24 children under 14 could not be employed in a hazardous occupation. The right of a child against exploitation under Art.24 was enforceable even in the absence of implementing legislation, and in a public interest proceeding

They have no faith in the existing social and economic system”. A high water mark in the application of the Article 24 of the Constitution was reached in the decision of the Court in Salal Hydro Project v. Jammu and Kashmir wherein the Court reiterated the above stand. The Court maintained that child labour is an economic problem. Poor parents seek to argument their meager income through employment of their children. So, a total prohibition of child labour in any form may not be socially feasible in the prevailing socio-economic environment. Article 24 therefore, puts only a practical restriction on child labour. The Court further observed that so long as there is poverty and destitution in this country, it will be difficult to eradicate child labour.

4 Juvenile Justice

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000 is enacted as human rights legislation and it is now in force in all State uniformly, repealing the entire Children’s Act enacted by states individually. This legislation deals with the two types of juveniles. “Juvenile in conflict with law” as defined under Section 2(1) and child in need of care and protection as defined under Section 2 (d). A juvenile or a child as defined under Section 2 (k) is a person who has not attained the age of 18 years. The penitentiary system shall comprise treatment of prisoners, the essential aim of which shall be their reformation and social rehabilitation. Juvenile offenders shall be segregated from adults and be accorded treatment appropriate to their age and legal status.

In Sheela Barse v. Union of India Ms.Sheela Barse, a dedicated social worker took up the case of helpless children below age of 16 illegally detained in jails. She petitioned for the release of such young children from jails, production of information as to the existence of juvenile courts, homes and schools and for a direction that the District judges should visit jails or sub-jails within their jurisdiction to ensure children are properly looked after when in custody. The Court observed that children in jail are entitled to special treatment. Children are national assets and they should be treated with special care. The Court urged the setting up of remand and juvenile homes for children in jails. In Sheela Barse v Secretary Children Aid Society the Supreme Court came forward to protect the rights of the children in the observation homes.

5 Adoption of Children

Adoption concerns two of our basic human concerns identity and family. A child’s rights to an identity and family are now universally recognized. They are enshrined in the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989.

The Activist Supreme Court of India in Lakshmikant Pandey v Union of India. This writ petition has been initiated on the basis of a letter addressed by one Laxmi Kant Pandey, an advocate practising in this Court, complaining of mal-practices indulged in by social organisations and voluntary agencies engaged in the work of offering Indian children in adoption to foreign parents. The letter referred to a press report based on “empirical investigation carried out by the staff of a reputed foreign magazine” called “The Mail” and alleged that not only Indian children of tender age are under the guise of adoption “exposed to the long horrendous journey to distant foreign countries at great risk to their lives but in cases where they survive and where these children are not placed in the Shelter and Relief Homes, they in course of time become beggars or prostitutes for want of proper care from their alleged foreign foster parents.” The petitioner accordingly sought relief restraining Indian based private agencies “from carrying out further activity of routing children for adoption abroad” and directing the Government of India, the Indian Council of Child Welfare and the Indian Council of Social Welfare to carry out their obligations in the matter of adoption of Indian children by foreign parents. This letter was treated as a writ petition and by an Order dated 1st September, 1982 the Court issued notice to the Union of India the Indian Council of Child Welfare and the Indian Council of Social Welfare to appear in answer to the writ petition and assist the Court in laying down principles and norms which should be followed in determining whether a child should be allowed to be adopted by foreign parents and if so, the procedure to be followed for that purpose, with the object of ensuring the welfare of the child. In this case the Supreme Court held that any adoption in violation of or non-compliance with may lead adoption to be declared invalid and expose person concerned with to strict action including prosecution. For years, social activists have used these directions to protect children and promote desirable adoptions. The Government of India framed a national policy in this regard.

6 Sexual Exploitation of Children

Human Rights are derived from the dignity and worth inherent in the human person. Human right and fundamental freedom have been retreated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The human rights for women, including girl child age, therefore, inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights. All forms of discrimination on ground of gender are violative of fundamental freedoms and human rights. It would, therefore, be imperative to take all steps to prohibit prostitution. Eradication of prostitution in any form is integral to social weal and glory of womanhoods. Right of the child to development hinges upon elimination of prostitution. Success lies upon effective measures to eradicate root and branch of prostitution. In Bachpan Bachao Andolan v Union of India writ petition filed by HRLN, Suprem Court on 18.04.2011 has ordered for implementation of suggestions put forth during the hearing of this case, which will introduce significant reforms in existing child protection regime. The petition was originally brought in 2006 on issue of abuse and exploitation of children in circus industry. Court has ordered Central Government to bring a notification prohibiting employment of children in circus, to conduct raids to rescue children already working in circuses and frame proper scheme for their restoration. During the hearing in this case, several recommendations were put forth by petitioner and respondent, aimed on reforming existing legal and procedural mechanism on child protection. This recent order is just one among the several orders which may be given by Hon’ble Supreme Court in due couese of time as Hon’ble Court has made clear its intention to deal with issue of childrens exploitation in a long term and systematic manner. Assuring to deal with childrens exploitation firmly, Supreme Court has observed: “We plan to deal with the problem of childrens exploitation systematically”.

In Vishal Jeet v. Union of India Supreme Court in this case deals with some seminal questions relating to the sexual exploitation of children. Here it has been observed that it is highly deplorable and heart rending to note that many poverty stricken children and girls in the prime age of youth are taken to the ‘flesh market’ and forcibly pushed into “flesh trade” which is being carried on in utter violation of all cannons of morality, decency and dignity of mankind. In Gaurav Jain v. Union of India, The Supreme Court held that the children of the prostitutes have the right to equality of opportunity, dignity, care, protection and rehabilitation so as to be part of the mainstream of social life without any pre-stigma attached on them. The Court directed for the constitution of a committee to formulate a scheme for the rehabilitation of such children and child prostitutes and for its implementation and submission of periodical report of its Registry. 7. Sakshi v Union of India In this Public Interest Litigation matter, the Supreme Court of India asked the Law Commission to consider certain important issues regarding sexual abuse of children submitted by the petitioner and the feasibility of amendment to 375 and 376 IPC.

7 Rehabilitation of Child Prostitutes

The rescue and rehabilitation of the child prostitutes and children should be kept under the Nodal Department, namely; Department of Women and Child Development under the Ministry of Welfare and Human Resource, Government of India. It would devise suitable schemes for proper and effective implementation. The institutional care, thus, would function as an effective rehabilitation scheme in respect of the fallen women or the children of fallen women even if they have crossed the age prescribed under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act. They should not be left to themselves, but should be rehabilitated through self-employment scheme or such measures as are indicated by the Supreme Court in this case. The juvenile homes should be used only of a short stay or relieve the child prostitutes and neglected juveniles from the trauma they would have suffered. They need to be rehabilitated in the appropriate manner. The details are required

To be worked out by meaningful procedure and programmes. In the light of the directions already given by this court from time to time to the central government state governments and Union Territory Administrators, adequate steps should be taken to rescue the prostitutes, child prostitutes and the neglected juveniles. They should take measures to provide them adequate safety, protection and rehabilitation in the juvenile homes manned by qualified trained social workers or homes run by NGOs with the aid and financial assistance given by Government of India or state government concerned. A nodal committee with the public spirited NGOs, in particular women organizations women members should be involved in the management. Adequate encouragement may be given to them. The needed funds should be provided and timely payments disbursed so that the scheme would be implemented effectively and fruitfully.

8 Conclusion

The brief survey of the above mentioned cases shows that the activism of the Indian Supreme Court to protect the children from various type of exploitation. Although the Supreme Court made laudable directions and suggestions in many instances to protect basic rights of poor children, unfortunately these directions and suggestions are not followed and implemented by the government machinery effectively. In this regards, the performance of the Indian Judiciary stands out as a signal contribution to the implementation of human rights generally and that of Child Rights in particular.

As such in the M.C. Mehta v. State of Tamil Nadu and Goodricke Group Ltd v Center of West Bengal Supreme Court of India emphasized on national Constitution and international instruments, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Indian government is required to ensure that children do not engage in hazardous work. In Lakshmi Kant Pandey v Union of India with object of ensuring the welfare of the child J. Bhagwati directed the Government and various agencies to follow some principles as their constitutional obligation to ensure the welfare of the child. Also judiciary has taken the lead to save the child from exploitation and improve their conditions. To mention a few, the Asiad case (1981), L.K.Pandey case (1994), M.C.Mehtas case (1991), Vishal Jeet v. Union of India (1990), and Gaurav Jain v. Union of India (1997) are some of the famous decisions where the judiciary has shown enough courage to uphold the interests of the children and spared no one to improve the working conditions of the child workers. The judiciary has always made concrete efforts to safeguard them against the exploitative tendencies of their employer by regularizing their working hours, fixing their wages, laying down rules about their health and medical facilities. The judiciary has even directed the states that it is their duty to create an environment where the child workers can have opportunities to grow and develop in a healthy manner with full dignity in consensus of the mandate of our constitution.

REFERENCES

  •  Part III of the Constitution. For details see Durga das Basu, Shoter Constitution of India,Prentice-Hall of India Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 1996, p. 22-23.
  •  Article 14 of the Indian Constitution: The State shall not deny to any person equality before law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
  •  Word secular is inserted by the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976 (w.e.f. 03.01.1977).
  •  Article 51: The Stae shall endeavour to (a) promote international peace and security; (b) maintain just and honourable relations between nations; (c) foster respect for international law and treaty obligations in the dealing of organise peoples with one another; and (d) encourage settlement of international disputes by arbitration.
  •  Article 24: No Child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.
  •  Article 45 of the Indian Constitution: State shall endeavour to provide, within period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of 14 years.
  •  AIR 1993 SC 2178.
  •  AIR 1991 SC 417.
  • Retrieved from < http://www.hrcr.org/safrica/childrens_rights/India.html> last visited on 27th Nov. 2011, at 15:41 IST.
  •  123 CTR 516..
  •  AIR 1993 SC 2178.
  •  12AIR 1982 SC 1473.
  •  Retrieved from <http://www.hrcr.org/safrica/childrens_rights/India.html> last visited on 27th Nov. 2011, at 15:41 IST.
  •  AIR 1987 SC 177.
  •  Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act was enacted in 2000 by repealing the Juvenile Justice Act 1986.
  •  Article 10 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, 1966.
  •  1986 3 SCC 596.
  •  Retrieved from <http://www.hrcr.org/safrica/access_courts/India/Indiacases.html> last visited on 27th Nov. 2011, at 15:40 IST.
  •  AIR 1987 SC 656.
  •  Asha Bajpai, Adoption Law and Justice to the Child, Center of Child and the Law NLSIU, Bangalor, 1996, p. 1.
  •  AIR, 1986, SC, p. 1272.
  •  Retrieved from < http://www.manupatrainternational.in/supremecourt/1980-2000/sc1984/s840054.htm> last visited on 27th Nov. 2011, at 15:43 IST.
  •  Retrieved from <http://hrln.org/hrln/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=644:supreme-court-sets-ground-for-significant-reforms-in-existing-child-protection-regime-bans-use-of-children-in-cicus> last visited on 27th Nov. 2011, at 15:40 IST.
  •  AIR 1990 SC 1413.
  •  AIR 1997 SC 3051.
  •  Retrieved from < http://www.hrcr.org/safrica/childrens_rights/India.html> last visited on 27th Nov. 2011, at 15:42 IST.
  •  1999 8 SCC 591.
  •  Retrieved from <http://www.hrcr.org/safrica/childrens_rights/India.html> last visited on 27th Nov. 2011, at 15:42 IST.
  •  Y. Vishnupriya, Judicial Activism for Protection of Children in India, Socio-legal Journal, Vol.37 (1), Jan. 2011, p. 150.

CHILD LABOUR IN INDIA-PRESENT SCENARIO

Jyoti Angrish

Every child is a gift of God –a gift must be nurtured with care and affection, with in the family and society. But unfortunately due to socio-economic and cultural problems, the code of child centeredness was replaced by neglect, abuse and deprivation, particularly in the poverty afflicted sections of the society. (1) While child labour is a complex problem that is basically rooted in poverty.(2) The strategy of progressive elimination of child labour underscores India’s legislative intent, and takes cognizance of the fact that child labour is not an isolated phenomenon that can be tackled without simultaneously taking into account the socio-economic milieu that is at the root of the problem.(3). An International Moral Code of Right and Wrong Behavior said that “human rights and fundamental freedoms are the birthright of all human beings” and as a result such rights may neither be granted nor be taken away by legislation.(4)

The position of India in terms of child labour is not an appreciable one; with a credible estimates ranging from 60 to 115 million, India has the largest number of working children in the world. Whether they are sweating in the heat of stone quarries, working in the fields 16 hours a day, picking rags in the city streets, or hidden away as domestic servants, these children endure miserable and difficult lives. They earn little and are made to work more. They struggle to make enough to eat and perhaps to help feed their families as well.

They do not go to school. Many of them have been working since the age of four or five, and by the time they attain adulthood they may be irrevocably sick and deformed they will certainly be exhausted, and in this way they are debarred from enjoying the basic human rights, which are essential for the advancement of one’s personality. (5) According to the statistics given by Indian government there are 20 million child labourers in the country, while other agencies claim that it is 50 million. (6)

Child labour is a conspicuous problem in India. Its prevalence is evident in the child work participation rate, which is more than that of other developing countries. Poverty is the reason for child labour in India. The meager income of child labourers is also absorbed by their families. The paucity of organized banking in the rural areas creates a void in taking facilities, forcing poor families to push their children in harsh labour, the harshest being bonded labour.(7) That declaration stated that all ILO members have an obligation “to respect, to promote and to realize in good faith” a set of fundamental rights which include freedom of association the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour the effective abolition of child labour and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation. (8)

Rights of Children under International Law

The concept of equality of all human beings, as embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of I948 stipulates under Article 25para 2 that childhood is entitled to special care and assistance. The above principle along with other principles of the Universal Declaration concerning child were incorporated in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1959.The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights under Articles 23 and 24 and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights under Article 10 made provisions for the care of the child. (9) However the International Labour Organization (ILO) provides universal standards and guidelines. The ILO, a specialized agency of the UN, aims to provide guidance and standards for labour practices around the world. The International Convention and other international instruments, (10) which deal with the subject of child labour are as follows:

1. Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989.

2. Worst Form of Child Labour Convention, 1999; and

3. Worst Form of Child Labour Recommendation

The International Program on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) is a global program launched by the International Labour Organization in December, 1991. India was the first country to join it in 1992 when it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ILO. The MOU that expired on 31.12.1996 has been extended from time to time and has recently been extended till 31st December, 2006. The long-term objective of IPEC is to contribute to the effective abolition of child labour. (11) IPEC-India has, during the period 1992-2002, supported over 165 Action Programs.

The Govt. of India and the US Department of Labour have also initiated a US$ 40 million project aimed at eliminating child labour in 10 hazardous sectors across 21 districts in five States namely, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi. This project, popularly known as INDUS, is being implemented by ILO. An estimated 80,000 children will be withdrawn and rehabilitated through this project. Support activities will also be directed to 10,000 families of former child workers. (12) On 20 November 2009, the global community celebrates the 20th anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the unique document that sets international standards for the care, treatment and protection of all individuals below age 18. (13)

Rights of Children under National Laws

India has all along followed a proactive policy in the matter of tackling the problem of child labour. India has always stood for constitutional, statutory and development measures required eliminating child labour. The Indian Constitution has consciously incorporated provisions to secure compulsory universal elementary education as well as labour protection for children. Labour Commissions in India have gone into the problems of child labour and have made extensive recommendations. (14) The Constitution of India, too provides certain rights to children and prohibits child labour. Such provisions are as follows:

1. No child below the age of 14 years shall be employed in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous work. (15)

2. State, in particular, shall direct its policy towards securing that the health and strength of workers, men and women and the tender age of the children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter vocations unsuited to their age or strength.(16)

3. Children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitations and against moral and material abandon. (17)

4. The state shall endeavor to provide, within the period of 10 years from the commencement of the Constitution, free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of 14 years. (18)

5. The state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of six to 14 years in such a manner as the state may by law determine (19)

6. Who is parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or the case may be, ward between the age of six and14years. (20)

There are a wide range of laws, which guarantee to a substantial extent the rights and entitlement as provided in the constitution and in the UN convention. Some of them are given below:

1. The Apprentices Act, 1861

2. The Child Labour Act, 1986

3. The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929

4. The Children (pledging of labour) Act, 1929

5. Children Act, 1960.

6. The Guardian and Wards Act, 1890

7. The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956

8. The Hindu Adoption and Maintence Act, 1956

9. The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956

10. Juvenile Justice Act, 1986

11. The Orphanages and other charitable Homes (supervision and control) Act, 1960

12. Probation of offenders Act, 1958

13. Reformatory schools Act, 1857

14. The women’s and children’s institutions (licensing) Act, 1956

15. The young persons (Harmful publications) Act, 1956

Apart from these laws mainly concerning children, there are a host of related welfare and criminal laws, which have beneficial provisions for the case, and protection of children. Even the laws relating to commerce, industry and trade have protective provisions beneficial to children.

The first Act in India relating to child labour was the Enactment of Children (Pledging of Labour) Act of February 1933. The child of today is the future of our country. So the investment made on children is an asset for the future of our country. As a child is not a vase to be filled, but a fire to be lit, they should not be exploited by engaging them in employment in tender age but they should be given all necessary amenities and support so that they become responsible citizens of the nation and make the world a happier place to live in. (21) Children under fourteen constitute around 3.6% of the total labour force in India. Of these children, nine out of every ten work in their own rural family settings. Nearly 85% are engaged in traditional agricultural activities. Less than 9% work in manufacturing, services and repairs. Only about 0.8% works in factories. (22)

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 and Regulation) Act, 1986 was passed. This Act prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 in factories, mines and in other forms of hazardous employment, and regulates the working conditions of children in other employment. Sec.3 of this Act imposes prohibition on employment of children in dhabas, restaurants, hotels, motels, tea shops, resorts, spas or other recreational centre’s etc. (23) Recently, child labour is totally banned by the government with free education and other facilities to the child upto the age of 14. The list of hazardous occupations and processes is progressively being expanded on the recommendation of Child Labour Technical Advisory Committee constituted under the Act. (24)

According to a 2001 census, an estimated 185,595 children are employed as domestic help and in small roadside eateries. Most child domestic workers in India are trafficked by placement agencies operating in states like Orissa, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.(25) India has announced a National Policy of Child Labour as early as 1987, and was probably the first among the developing countries to have such a progressive policy. Through a notification dated May 26, 1993, the working conditions of children have been regulated in all employment not prohibited under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. Further, following up on a preliminary notification issued on October 5, 1993, the government has also prohibited employment of children in occupations such as abattoirs/slaughter houses, printing, cashew de-scaling and processing, and soldering.(26) Child labour would be abolished in hazardous occupations by the year 2000, reflects a national consensus and commitment. After this declaration, several far-reaching initiatives have been taken by the Government to effectively tackle the problem (27) India’s National Policy on Education, 1986 gives the highest priority to the program of universal elementary education, and recommends that free and compulsory education of sufficient quality be provided to all children up to the age of 14 years before we enter the 21st century. The present thrust is on three aspects, namely, universal access and enrollment, universal retention of children up to 14 years of age, and substantial improvement in the quality of education to enable all children to achieve essential levels of learning. All these aspects have been incorporated in the various initiatives taken up by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.(28)

Role of Judiciary

Indian higher judiciary has played good role in protecting rights of children and specifically in the case of child labour. The Supreme Court of India, in its M.C. Mehta Vs State of Tamil Naidu (29) has given certain directions regarding the manner in which children working in the hazardous occupations are to be withdrawn from work and rehabilitated, and the manner in which the working conditions of children working in non-hazardous occupations are to be regulated and improved. Withdrawal of children working in hazardous industries and ensuring their education in appropriate institutions; Contribution of Rs.20,000 per child to be paid by the offending employers of children to a welfare fund to be established for this purpose; Employment to one adult member of the family of the child so withdrawn from work, and if that is not possible a contribution of Rs.5000 to the welfare fund to be made by the State Government; Financial assistance to the families of the children so withdrawn to be paid out of the interest earnings on the corpus of Rs.20,,000/25,000.00 deposited in the welfare fund as long as the child is actually sent to the schools; Regulating hours of work for children working in non-hazardous occupations so that their working hours do not exceed six hours per day and education for at least two hours is ensured. The entire expenditure on education is to be borne by the concerned employer; as a follow up of the directions of the Supreme Court, all the State Governments were sent detailed guidelines on December 26, 1996 indicating the manner in which the directions of the Supreme Court were to be implemented. A meeting of the NAECL was convened on 31st December 1996 to discuss the directions of the Supreme Court on child labour. It was decided in the meeting that the Ministry of Labour should immediately release funds to the State Governments so as to enable them to conduct surveys of working children before June 10, 1997.

With child labour are filled with a high poverty level. These children have no choice but to go and work because if they don’t they will starve and die. Child labour for these children is survival; there are no other chances for them. None of these children have the privilege of going to school and being able to go to a house at the end of a day. Most of these children work from the crack of dawn and don’t stop working till late into the night.(30)

Child labour in India is a human right issue for the whole world. It is a serious and extensive problem, with many children under the age of fourteen working in carpet making factories, glass blowing units and making fireworks with bare little hands. According to the statistics given by Indian government there are 20 million child labourers in the country, while other agencies claim that it is 50 million. (31) According to the statistics given by ILO and other official agencies 73 million children between 10 to 14 years of age reemployed in economic activities all over the world. The figure translates into 13.2 of all children between 10to14 being subjected to child labour. (32) The child labour is prevalent at a large scale in the country. In Punjab it is found in hotels, restaurant, tea-stalls, rag collecting as domestic help in brick killen etc. for which the authorities ,parents ,educationist, police and employers or responsible. There is lack of implementations of child laws .Since politicians and other authorities exert pressure not to prosecute the child law violators. There are instances of bounded child labour are found in Punjab but the authorities ignore it and the various departments for the implementation of labour laws either lack funds or lack will to prosecute the child law defaulters and the laws remain merely on the paper for which the lack of control of population and increasing unemployment or the major causes and the politicians fear to tackle these problems in view of their vote banks.

Suggestions – The Govt. should take proper effective steps to decrease the population and give the employment to the parents of child labour. Necessary practical steps should be taken to educate the children. Provided the necessary sufficient funds to the organizations working for the education and removal of child labour. There should be effective implementations of child protective laws. There should be necessary prosecution of child labour defaulters. The involvement of the religious leaders, trade unionist and non government organizations and to tackle the child labour by forming advisory committees on child labour on block level should be there. The authorities should not bend before the pressure of the politicians while tackling the problems of child labour.

Conclusion- At present, inspite of policy of the government regarding removal of child labour. The various steps taken in this direction and the laws passed about it haven’t controlled the ongoing child labour. This is possible only with the co-operation of all sections of the society and the law enforcement agencies and by removing or minimizing the causes of child labour. The main thrust should be on controlling the population of the country, education of the children and providing sufficient funds for its removal from the gross domestic product of India.

REFERENCES

1. Dr. Jaspal Singh: Rights of children under Indian constitution and the convention of Rights of Children 1989: An Appraisal-Law journal Guru Nanak Dev University, vol. XIII, 2004

2. Child Labour and India – Embassy of India, Washington, DC.mht

3. Ibid;

4. Roy J. Adams: Labour Rights as Human Right: Implication of the International Consensus

5. Ibid;

6. www.childlabour.in

7. Ibid;

8. Supra; 4

9. Supra note 6. Violation of child labour laws in India

10. Ibid;

11. http://www.labour.nic.in,international program on child labour

12. Ibid;

13. Child Labour India Environment Portal.mht

14. Supra note 2.

15. The Constitution of India, Art.24

16 Ibid; Art.39 (e)

17. Ibid; Art. 39(f)

18. Ibid; Art.45

19. Ibid; Art.21-A. (added by the 86th Amendment Act 2002).

20. Ibid; Art. 51A (k) (added by the 86th Amendment Act 2002).

21. Supra note; 4.

22. Supra note; 2.

23. Added by S.O. 1742 (E) dated 10th October 2006.

24. www.labour.nic.in; national child labour project.

25. India News – Child labour ban mostly on paper.mh

26. Supra note; 24.

27. Ibid;

28. Ibid;

29. AIR 1991 S.C. 417

30. http://www.exampleessays.com/viewpaper/36110.html

31. www.childlabour.in

32. Ibid; Child Labour Today

 

PROGRESSIVE ABOLITION OF CHILD LABOUR

 “What I am today is because of education and I want every Indian child to be so touched by the light of education”

-Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh.

          Children are the future custodians of all the present philosophies including sovereignty, rule of law, justice, liberty, fraternity and international peace and security.  The human rights jurisprudence categorically recognized the rights of the child.  The Declaration of Geneva in 1924 gave a clarion call that Mankind owes to the child the best it has to give”. The Universal Declaration of Human rights rightly obliges family, as a fundamental unit of society, to focus on children so as to afford them necessary pre-conditions to growth.  Article 24 of the UN declaration Provides: “Every Child shall have the right to such measures of protection as are required by his status as a minor, on the part of his family, society and the State”.  It is now universally recognized that for a comprehensive development of its personality, the child should grow in a family environment and in an atmosphere conducive to care, affection and understanding.

           The Industrial revolution, which led to urbanization, has been responsible for changes in family structure.  The concept of child labour is also directly attributable to the developments in the industrial production process following the industrial revolution.  Labour and human dignity can be considered as purchasable at cheapest possible price.  Poverty of parents led to children offering themselves for work in highly exploitative conditions.  These children of lesser god witness the forfeiture of their childhood without fully knowing themselves the trauma of work life and its impact on their mental and moral development.

Reasons for Development of Child Labour:

          Chronic Poverty is the most important factor for the prevalence and perpetuation of child labour.  Nearly half of the India’s total population subsists below the poverty line.  India stands 2nd position in the employment of child labour while Africa stands in the first position.  In this situation, the child, since its very appearance in the world, is endowed with an economic mission.  Economic compulsions weigh so heavily on poor parents that they do not mind colluding with the child’s employer in violating the laws and placing the child under risks of inhuman employment situation.  Poverty and child labour always beget each other and tend to reinforce each other.  Other reasons are disenchantment with and a lack of faith in the educational system as schooling does not guarantee a job.  There is also a deeply ingrained Indian tradition that a girl child is to work in the house with the mother and the boy is to learn the father’s trade.  Though in the organized and the unorganized sectors there is no dearth of adult labour, employees prefer hiring children as they are more amenable to discipline, too young to organize themselves and fight for their rights, can be paid less and bullied to obedience.  The lack of concern within the community indifference among the middle class adults to their social surroundings and the existence of exploitative elements result in the erosion of the natural rights of the poor children.  The fact that the children cannot speak for themselves makes them easy targets for exploitative working conditions and wages. 

          Still another reason for the ever increasing child labour is said to be, the accelerated pace of mechanization of agriculture which pushes the surplus farm labour to the cities in search of livelihood.  A survey conducted by the commission of child labour in Kolkata revealed that socio-economic conditions of the families compelled children to come in search of employment.

          Analyzing the reasons which prompt the children to work, it was shown by experts that as many as 47.5 percent of child workers did so, not so much because of poverty but because of the fathers force them to leave school and join work while they themselves either sit idle, or want the extra money to satisfy their various addictions.  In some cases, it is reported that the children themselves compare the advantages of continuing education with joining the labour force and decide in favour of the latter because of the dignity, freedom and responsibility which they get as a contributing member of the family.  On the other hand, some children admitted that they pushed into this, and left to themselves they would like to pursue their education.  The increasing number of child labourers also indicates the failure of family planning, especially in the poverty belts.

          In a case of employment of children below 14 years of age in carpet industries in the State of Uttar Pradesh, Supreme Court held that state is under obligation to provide socio-economic justice to the children and render facilities and opportunities for development of their personalities.  In Bandhua Mukti Morcha vs. Union of India, 1997 Lab IC, 2107 the Supreme Court held that basic cause of child labour is poverty instead of total abolition shall have adverse affect and should be banned progressively in a planned manner.

             In Hindustan Times dated 1st August, 1984: Statement made by the Minister of State for labour in the Rajya Sabha, on 30th July, 1984 is published it was stated that there is a concentration of child labour in certain industries such as match works in Tamil Nadu, Carpet industry in Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh, State quarries in Madhya Pradesh , diamond cutting in Gujarat, glass and bangle in Uttar Pradesh, tea Plantation in West Bengal and brassware in Uttar Pradesh.

           Samithu Kothari made a study into facet of child labour, the working conditions of children engaged in the match works at Sivakasi in Tamilnadu.  He rightly captioned the work:  “There is blood on those match sticks”.  Blood stains are there, not only on the match-sticks but also on other materials, the carpets in your drawing room, the slabs of slates used in your house, the diamonds adding glow and glory to a well cared figure, the glass and bangles than given glitters to the dress and the body, the brass-ware in your house, and even in the tea you sip”.

VARIOUS ACTIVITIES PERFORMED BY CHILD LABOUR:

Child Labour in the Agricultural Sector:   According to a recent ILO report about 80% child labourers in India are employed in the agriculture sector. The children are generally sold to the rich moneylenders to whom borrowed money cannot be returned.

Street Children : Children on the streets work as beggars, they sell flowers and other items, instead of being sent to school. They go hungry for days to gather. In fact, they are starved so that people feel sorry for them and give them alms.

Bonded Child Labour :  This is also known as slave labour and is one of the worst types of labour for children and adults, alike. In fact, in 1976 the Indian Parliament enacted the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act; herein declaring bonded illegal. However, the fact remains is that this system of working still continues. According to certain experts approximately 10 million bonded children labourers are working as domestic servants in India. Beyond this there are almost 55 million bonded child labourers hired across various other industries.

Children Employed At Glass Factories :  According to recent estimates almost 60,000 children are employed in the glass and bangle industry and are made to work under extreme conditions of excessive heat.

Child Labour in Matchbox Factories :  Of the 2,00,000 labour force in the matchbox industry, experts claim that 35% are children below the age of 14. They are made to work over twelve hours a day, beginning work at around 4 am, everyday.

Carpet Industry Child Labour :  According to a recent report by the ILO almost 4,20,000 children are employed in the carpet industry of India.

The Other Industries :  According to researchers there are about 50,000 children employed in the brass industry of India and around the same amount in the lock industry.

          The children of poor parents are more an economic asset than a liability.  When child labour recruiting agents go about in the flood or drought hit areas offering loans, it is not uncommon that poor parents surrender their children to them, by availing of the loan facilities to ensure the survival of the family.  The failure to implement strictly child labour prohibition laws is the non-universalisation of compulsory primary education but with the implementation the Right to Education Act, 2009 this drawback of the proper non implementation of child labour laws shall hope to be overcome in India.

             While Child labour is the product of poverty and unemployment, it further contributes to underdevelopment and unemployment.  It contributes to unemployment, because the existence of child labour, results in the increase of adult unemployment; and to under development, because a child labourer by the time he becomes as adult, is fully burnt out.  The encouragement of child labourers to work and contribute towards the family income, prompts parents to have more children.  Thus child labour defeats the goal of family planning.  Child labour also hinders the prospect of implementing the policy of compulsory primary education which is now made important by the implementation of the Right to Education Act, 2009.

Position in Developed Countries and in India:-

          In the developed countries in the west, child labour could be checked through effective enforcement of ‘Prohibition of Child labour’ laws, and compulsory primary education.  In most developing countries, however, millions of children still work in factories, workshops, agriculture, mines, quarries and service enterprises.  It is estimated that child labour makes up “more than 10% of labour force in some countries of middle east and from 2 to 10% in much of Latin America and some parts of Asia.  The world considers the issue of child labour to be a rather serious one in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, there are a set of experts in Africa who do not consider it to be serious and prefer to sweep it under their carpet in order to look into more ‘serious’ issues. There are still others who prefer to wear a blindfold and believe that child labour issues are far more serious in other nations, whereas it is as good as non-existent in their own nation. However, ILO statistics provide a more serious picture. It states that over 40% of the children of Africa are working. They are mainly working as slaves in private households, apart from other industries. So the African people do not believe it as a serious issue.  While the picture, as we see is grim, yet nothing can really be done as there is no consistent or factual empirical evidence where child labour in Africa is concerned.

          The problem of child labour in India is very acute.  The National Sample survey in 1983 estimated that there were 17.8 million child workers in India in the age group of 5 to 15 years.  Operation research Group placed the figure at 44 million in 1983.  It has been estimated by the Planning commission that by the year 2000, India has 20 million child workers (UNICEF 1994). Recent Survey on Child Labour shows that 10% of the total population in India is child labour and from all the States in India, Andhra Pradesh occupies 1st position with constituting 16% of total child labour is in it.  Mostly working children were belonging to the families of extremely poor.  They work in highly exploitative and stressful conditions including bonding situations.

           China accounts for the third largest number where child labour is concerned. In fact, many think it to be a phenomenon that has just begun to surface. However, the fact is that child labour in China has been there for years. This is so despite that there have been strict official regulations that ban employment of minors. And according to the laws of China, a minor is an individual below the age of sixteen-years. Due to poverty, teenagers and younger children have been migrating to the southern and coastal regions of China. This is because these regions have been developing and provide a lot of opportunities to earn.

Definition of Child Labour:-

          The actual number of child labour vary according to different concepts and definition as to what exactly child labour means.  The National Sample Survey defined “Child Worker as a Person below the age of 14 years, who is wage earner”.  The concern for working children, a Bangalore based Organization, described a child Labourer as a person who has not completed fifteen years of age and is working with or without wage on a part time or full time basis.  It estimated that a number of working children in India is close to 100 million.  Most of the work done by children whether with or without wage does contribute to the economic activity of the household to them.

           Often school going children also will be working as part time workers in some factories.  This also may not be taken into account by the census.  Even child labour is banned in certain industries by enacting specific legal provisions for the abolition of child labour the employers may not reveal to the census enumerators, facts and figures regarding the number of child workers.  Most often parents also collude with the employer lest the child loses the job.  Domestic work such as cleaning, cooking, which is unpaid and is considered unproductive, other domestic works such as grazing cattle sowing, weeding, threshing or assisting the parents in house hold crafts, etc may not be taken into account by the census enumerators.  Other facts such as pledging the labour of the children against a loan, working in road side cafes, automobile workshops, construction sites, etc., also may not come under the purview o f the census.  It may also ignore self-employed children who are working in the areas of shoe-shining, rag–packing, newspaper selling, peanut or fruit vending.  However the estimated data shows that 10% of the total population of India is child labour.  Many steps are being taken by the Indian Government from the pre-Independence period for the eradication of this drastic problem but still now the problem remains unsolved and the number of child labour were growing day-by-day due to poverty.

Legal Steps for the Prevention of Child Labour:-

          To discuss about the child labour prevention laws in a vide way one must go through those laws by dividing the laws from its origin in pre-independence or post-independence periods.  Most of the pre-independence laws prescribed punishment for the child labour to the parents of the child and also employer but the post- independence laws exempted the parents from punishment.

A.Pre-Independence Laws:-

          The origin of statutory protection of child labour in India can be traced back to the Indian Factories Act, 1881.  This law is mainly regulated working hours, rest intervals, minimum wages and nature of work of child labour but it does not prevented the employment of children.

          Later on the Children Act, 1933 was enacted to prohibit the pledging of labour of children below 14 years by parents.  It prescribes Punishment for parents and employer of the child labour.  It imposes minimum fine of Rs. 200 to the employer for employing child labour and also Rs.50 for the parents who pledged their children for the labour.

          In the Year 1938 the Employment of Children Act was enacted to prohibit the employment of children below the age of 14 years in specified hazardous occupations.  This Act specifically prohibits the employment of children below 14 years of age in the railway and other means of transport.

B. Constitutional Provisions:-

          Article 15(3) of the Indian constitution enables the state to make special provisions for women and children.  It contains an exception to prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, etc as contained in Article 15(1).  Article 23 prohibits traffic in human beings and other forms of forced labour.  It is provided in Article 24 that “no child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment”.

          Apart from the fundamental rights related to children, certain directive principles in the constitution direct the state policy and action in relation to child rights, including employment and education of children.  Article 39 directs the state to so direct its policy “ that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter vocations unsuited to their age or strength” and “ that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that children and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment”. 

          In pursuance to the duty laid down in the above case some of the laws were enacted prohibiting the employment of children below 14 years of age.  However this Article does not prohibit the employment of children in any innocent or harmless job or work.

         The framers of the Constitution realizing the importance of the children and their education have imposed a duty on the State under Article 45 as one of the directive principles of the State Policy to provide free and compulsory education to all children until they complete the age of 14 years within the 10 years from the commencement of the Constitution.  The object was to abolish the illiteracy and child labour from the country.  It was expected that the elected government of the country would honestly implement this directive.  The framers perhaps were of the view that in view of the financial condition of a new state it included it in Chapter IV as one of the directive principles of State Policy.  But the politicians of our country belied the hope of the framers of the constitution.  It is unfortunate that it has taken 52 years from the commencement of the Constitution to initiate some measures by amending the Constitution to start with although 40% of the population is still illiterate and 10% of the total population is working as child labour.

          In the meantime, the Supreme Court in Unnikrishnan case declared that the right to education for the children of the age 6 to 14 years is a fundamental right.  Even after this, there was no improvement.  A demand was being raised from all corners to make education a fundamental right.  Consequently, the government enacted Constitution (86th Amendment) Act 2002 which would make education a fundamental right.  The Constitution (86th Amendment) Act has added a new Article 21A after Article 21 and has made education for all children of the age of 6 to 14 years a fundamental right.  It provides that “the State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of 6 to 14 years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine”.

C. Post-Constitutional Laws:-

          After attaining the Independence India enacted the Factories Act in the year 1948, under section 19 of this Act Children below the age of 14 years are prohibited from employment in the factories and the employers who are employed such children are liable to be punished with imprisonment or fine or with both. 

          Later on Some of the provisions in the enacted laws like the Plantation Labour Act, 1951; the Mines Act and the Indian Factories Act, 1952; the Motor Transport Act and the Apprentice Act,1961;  the Minimum Wages Act, 1948; the Atomic Energy Act; The Shops and Establishment Act; The Beedies and Cigar Workers (Condition and Employment) Act, 1966 prohibits the employment of children below a certain age.

          In 1986 the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 (CLA) was enacted with a view to rationalizing earlier legislation on child labour, progressive elimination of child labour in hazardous employments, and regulating conditions of child labour in non-hazardous industries.

          In nutshell, the Child Labour Act bans the employment of children below 14 years of age only in certain specified occupations and processes, regulated the conditions of work of children in employments where they are permitted to work; seeks to provide a uniform definition of child in related laws, and prescribes enhanced penalties for employing children in violation of the provisions of this Act and other legislation which prohibit employment of children.  In effect, this does not make any departure from its predecessor law, the Employment of Children Act 1938, so far as abolition of child labour is concerned.

          One major loophole that is visible is that work or process carried on by the occupier with the aid of his family has been taken out of the purview of the Child Labour Act.  Thus, it permits employment of children in hazardous processes, if a process is undertaken by any of their family members.  That is how many clever employers have installed looms from carpet weaving in children’s homes.  Beedies too are largely manufactured in this way.  Matches and fireworks also thrive this way with the aid of child labour.  

          The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 is now the principal central law relating to employment of child labour.  The Central and “State governments, of late, are showing vigorous concerns for the plight of child labour.   A large project with the help of the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is being undertaken by the National Labour Institute, NOIDA for training of labour and factory inspectors for a stricter enforcement of this law.  The whole emphasis is put on the honesty of inspectors and “Punishment includes imprisonment” of erring employers.  It appears that the word “hazardous” is treated purely as having physical implications.  The very concept of child labour snatches away from a child his childhood and should be considered as hazardous and thus violative of Article 24 of the Constitution.   The Child Labour Act fails to take note of the aspect that the working child unknowingly experiences a psychological trauma of adulthood without physically being prepared to bear its onslaught.  It is also incomprehensible why the Act does not even specify the minimum age of employment of children in processes and occupations where the child labour is not prohibited.

D. Precedents:-

                    In People Union for Democratic Rights V. Union of India AIR 1983, Sc 1473, it was contended that the Employment of Children Act ,1938 was not applicable in case of employment of children in the construction work of Asiad Projects in Delhi since construction industry was not a process specified in the schedule to the Children Act.  The court rejected this contention and held that the construction work is hazardous employment and therefore under Article 24 no child below the age of 14 years can be employed in the construction work even if construction industry is not specified in the schedule to the Employment of children Act, 1938.  Expressing concern about the ‘sad and deplorable omission’, Bhagwati,J., advised the State Government to take immediate steps for inclusion of  construction work in the schedule to the Act, and to ensure that the constitutional mandate of Article 24 is not violated in any part of the country.

           In Labour Working on Salal Hydro Project vs. Jammu and Kashmir AIR 1984 SC 177, the Court has reiterated the principle that the Construction work is hazardous employment and children below 14 cannot be employed in this work.       

           A Child is a national asset; it is the duty of the State to look after the child with a view to ensuring full development of his personality.  Emphasizing the significance of the dignity of youth, and childhood in a civilized society, Bhagawati, C.J. observed in Sheela Barse and others vs Union of India and others (1986) 3 SCJ 423 that some years ago our country came out with a National Policy for the welfare of Children which contained the following perambulatory declaration:  “The Nation’s children a supremely important asset.  Their nurture and solicitude are our responsibility.  Children’s programme should find a prominent part in our national plans for the development of human resources, so that our children grow up to become robust citizens, physically fit, mentally alert and morally healthy, endowed with the skill and motivations needed by society.  Equal opportunities for development to all children during the period of growth should be our aim, for this would serve our large purpose of reducing inequality and ensuring social justice”.

Main features of the Supreme Court  in  their Judgment dated 10.12.96 

On 10th December 1996 in Writ Petition (Civil) No.465/1986 the Supreme Court of India, gave certain directions on the issue of elimination of child labour. The main features of judgment are as under:

–        Survey for identification of working children;

–        Withdrawal of children working in hazardous industry and ensuring their education in appropriate institutions;

–        Contribution @ Rs.20,000/- per child to be paid by the offending employers of children to a welfare fund to be established for this purpose;   

–        Employment to one adult member of the family of the child so withdrawn from work and it that is not possible a contribution of Rs.5,000/- to the welfare fund to be made by the State Government;

–      Financial assistance to the families of the children so withdrawn to be paid -out of the interest earnings on the corpus of Rs.20,000/25,000 deposited in the welfare fund as long as the child is actually sent to the schools;

–      Regulating hours of work for children working in non-hazardous occupations so that their working hours do not exceed six hours per day and education for at least two hours is ensured. The entire expenditure on education is to be borne by the concerned employer.

–            The implementation of the direction of the Honourable Supreme Court is being monitored by the Ministry of Labour and compliance of the directions have been reported in the form of Affidavits on 05.12.97, 21.12.1999, 04.12.2000,  04.07.2001 and 04-12-2003 to the Honourable Court on the basis of the information received from the State/UT Governments.   

 

 

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act:

          After the enactment of the Constitution (86th Amendment) Act 2002 the State Provided protection to the Children from the age 6 to 14 years from the child labour by providing compulsory education but it has taken another 8 years for the passage of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act (RTE), which was passes by the Indian Parliament on 4th August 2009, describes the modalities of the provision of free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 years in India under Article 21-A of the Indian Constitution.  With the enactment of this legislation India became one of 135 countries to make education a fundamental right of every child when the Act came into force on 1st April 2010.

          The first time in the history of India a law was brought into force by a speech by the Prime Minister.  In his speech, Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India stated that, “We are committed to ensuring that all children, irrespective of gender and social category, have access to education.  An education that enables them to acquire the skills, knowledge, values and attitudes necessary to become responsible and active citizens of India”.

          The RTE Act if implemented properly will be much effective than any other previous laws which were enacted specifically to prohibit the child labour.  It its common sense the Right to Education Act main objective is to provide the free and compulsory education to all the children in India between the aged of 6 and 14 years but it indirectly imposes a duty on the State by the term COMPULSORY that all the children between the age of 6 to 14 years must be surely educated.  So it in an indirect way throw  light on the eradication of the child labour by making education compulsory to all the children between the ages of 6 to 14 years.

COMPULSORY EDUCATION:-

          The Constitution (86th Amendment) Act, 2002 and the Right to Education Act, 2009 specifically provides that it is the mandatory and primary duty of the State to provide free and compulsory education to the children below the age of 6 to 14 years. It is indirectly restricts the children from doing any other activity when they were in the age between 6 to 14 years.  Also it provides for free education where it makes the education to be available to the poor people.  Mostly the child labour were belong the children of the poor people.  Due to their economically backward condition parents were unable to feed the children and the work of the child will also become useful to make their both ends meet in a difficult way.

          The Act clarifies that “Compulsory Education” means obligation of the appropriate government to provide free elementary education and ensure compulsory admission, attendance and completion of elementary education to every child in the six to fourteen years age group. “Free” means that no child shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education. 

          The ultimate objective of development of any country must be the improvement of the quality of life of its people.  One of the mechanisms of enhancing the quality of life of its people is acquired by means of education.  The compulsory education provided by the Right to Education Act 2009 to the children between the ages of 6 to 14 years is very much useful to enhance the quality of the people.  Child labour shall be prevented by making use of the compulsory education provision. 

Government Policies:

          So as to be in consonance with the constitutional provisions and the United Nations (UN) Declarations on the Rights of the child, the Government of India adopted the National Policy for Children (NPC) in August 1974.  This Policy provided that “It shall be the policy of the state to provide adequate service to children both before and after birth and through the period of their growth, to ensure their full physical, mental and social development.  The State shall progressively increase the scope of such services so that, within a reasonable time, all children in the country enjoy optimum conditions for their balanced growth.”  This policy does seem to admit that a child is entitle to enjoy his childhood through play, learning, getting a parental emotions, love and nutritional and health care.  Toward this the National Policy envisaged the need for “free and compulsory education for all children upto the age of 14 years, provisions for health and nutritional programmes and services, providing alternative forms of education for children unable to take full advantage of formal school education for whatever reasons, and measures for protecting children against neglect, cruelty and exploitation.”  Ironically however, the Government only lays emphasis on regulation of child labour than concentrating on abolishing it altogether.  By making use of the Right to Education Act, 2009 the provision of compulsory education is very much useful to abolish the child labour by providing free and compulsory education to all the children below the age of 14 years. 

         The provision for regulation of the child labour which is constituted in the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 in present situation shall be need to amend as the Right to education Act enacted in 2009 is providing compulsory education to all the children below the age of 14 years.  At present situation there is no need to regulate the child labour.

          While focusing on the general development action programme, the National Policy envisaged utilization of non-formal education.  The National Commission on Labour also recommended arrangements to combine work with education through non-formal schemes.  It has also provided for linking these programmes with schemes of public libraries.  The policy identified to specific sectors of employment where the incidence of child labour is high.  It involved a six-point package to tackle the problem of child labour.  The government plans to establish special schools in these areas so as to not only provide education and vocational training but also take care of the nutritional care and needs of working children.

          The National Policy on Child Labour (1988) suggested that children employed as part of the family should be treated differently from those outside the family set-up.  Its strategy aimed at including the families of child workers in antipoverty programmes, arranging special programmes for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes whose children have to undertake wage labour and imparting compulsory formal or non-formal education to all children, particularly those employed in hazardous industries.

          The German funded programme, Child Labour Action and Support Project was launched in 1992.  The German Government had given an initial contribution through the International Labour Organisation.

           The Government is also implementing the International Programme for Elimination of Child Labour.  The Programme was launched in January 1933.  33 action programmes under this have been approved and more proposals are under consideration.  One project with an ‘integrated’ approach aims at rehabilitating 5,000 children every year from the carpet trade.  Of course, the Indian Government is spending annually Rs.10 crore on ten national level pilot projects in priority industries to wean away child labour and rehabilitate them.  The government has drafted a Bill to ensure equal wages for the minor and adult workers.  The move meant to make employment of child labour less lucrative.

          One way to minimize the incidence of child labour is to enhance the school enrollment by making proper utilization of the recently enacted Right to Education Act, 2009.  It enables the poor people to access school and attains free education upto the age of 14 years. Another recent initiative of the Indian Government is Sarva Siksha Abhiyan launched in 2001, universalizes the elementary education by community ownership.  Rajiv Vigyan Mission is also helpful to provide education for the needy children.  Rajiv Udyog Mission is taking part in providing employment to the children who are attained 14 years by ensuring sufficient training in the skilled work Project Based Plan of Action envisages starting of projects in areas of high concentration of child labour. Pursuant to this, in 1988, the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme was launched in 9 districts of high child labour endemicity in the country. The Scheme envisages running of special schools for child labour withdrawn from work. In the special schools, these children are provided formal/non-formal education along with vocational training, a stipend of Rs.100 per month, supplementary nutrition and regular health checkups so as to prepare them to join regular mainstream schools. Under the Scheme, funds are given to the District Collectors for running special schools for child labour. Most of these schools are run by the NGOs in the district.  

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.  

The coverage of the NCLP Scheme has increased from 12 districts in 1988 to 100 districts in the 9th Plan to 250 districts during the 10th Plan.

 Strategy for the elimination of child labour under the 10th Plan:

        An evaluation of the Scheme was carried out by independent agencies in coordination with V. V. Giri National Labour Institute in 2001. Based on the recommendations of the evaluation and experience of implementing the scheme since 1988, the strategy for implementing the scheme during the 10th Plan was devised. It aimed at greater convergence with the other developmental schemes and bringing qualitative changes in the Scheme. Some of the salient points of the 10th Plan Strategy are as follows:

  • Focused and reinforced action to eliminate child labour in the hazardous occupations by the end of the Plan period.
  • Expansion of National Child Labour Projects to additional 150 districts.
  • Linking the child labour elimination efforts with the Scheme of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan of Ministry of Human Resource Development to ensure that children in the age group of 5-8 years get directly admitted to regular schools and that the older working children are mainstreamed to the formal education system through special schools functioning under the NCLP Scheme.
  • Convergence with other Schemes of the Departments of Education, Rural Development, Health and Women and Child Development for the ultimate attainment of the objective in a time bound manner.  

The Government and the Ministry of Labour & Employment in particular, are rather serious in their efforts to fight and succeed in this direction. The number of districts covered under the NCLP Scheme has been increased from 100 to 250, as mentioned above in this note. In addition, 21 districts have been covered under INDUS, a similar Scheme for rehabilitation of child labour in cooperation with US Department of Labour. Implementation of this Project was recently reviewed during the visit of Mr. Steven Law, Deputy Secretary of State, from the USA. For the Districts not covered under these two Schemes, Government is also providing funds directly to the NGOs under the Ministry’s Grants-in-aid Scheme for running Special Schools for rehabilitation of child labour, thereby providing for a greater role and cooperation of the civil society in combating this menace. 

Elimination of child labour is the single largest programme in this Ministry’s activities. Apart from a major increase in the number of districts covered under the scheme, the priority of the Government in this direction is evident in the quantum jump in budgetary allocation during the 10th Plan. Government has allocated Rs. 602 crores for the Scheme during the 10th Plan, as against an expenditure of Rs. 178 crores in the 9th Plan. The resources set aside for combating this evil in the Ministry is around 50 per cent of its total annual budget.  

The implementation of NCLP and INDUS Schemes is being closely monitored through periodical reports, frequent visits and meetings with the District and State Government officials. The Government’s commitment to achieve tangible results in this direction in a time bound manner is also evident from the fact that in the recent Regional Level Conferences of District Collectors held in Hyderabad, Pune, Mussoorie and Kolkata district-wise review of the Scheme was conducted at the level of Secretary. These Conferences provided an excellent opportunity to have one-to-one interaction with the Collectors, who play a pivotal role in the implementation of these Schemes in the District. Besides, these Conferences also helped in a big way in early operationalisation of Scheme in the newly selected 150 districts.

                The Government is committed to eliminate child labour in all its forms and is moving in this direction in a targeted manner. The multipronged strategy being followed by the Government to achieve this objective also found its echo during the recent discussions held in the Parliament on the Private Member’s Bill tabled by Sri Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi. It was unanimously recognized therein that the problem of child labour, being inextricably linked with poverty and illiteracy, cannot be solved by legislation alone, and that a holistic, multipronged and concerted effort to tackle this problem will bring in the desired results. 

Forward Steps:-

          The ideal scenario on Child Welfare would be when every child enjoys the fullness of childhood through education, recreation and adequate health facilities.  It is impossible to attain these facilities by the child labour.  All the children were able to enjoy the completeness of childhood only

  • when the true conscience of the nation is awakened;
  • when all the policy makers and the bureaucrats take the issue of child labour seriously and commit themselves to the cause of the holistic development of every child in India;
  • when the employers would not even contemplate the idea of employing a child for any work which might deny the child of a normal childhood;
  • when all the parents will become aware of the jeopardy of child labour and take upon themselves the duty of caring for the physical, social and psychological and mental development of the child;
  • When all the Policies laid down by the Government under Various Plans and Laws were implemented properly ;
  • The government and the legal persons must conduct campaigns to make the people educate about the legal provisions existing for the abolition of the child labour.

     References:

  1. Baland, Jean-Marie and James A. Robinson (2000) ‘Is child labor inefficient?’ Journal of Political Economy 108, 663–679
  2. Basu, Kaushik, and Homa Zarghamee (2009) ‘Is product boycott a good idea for controlling child labour? A theoretical investigation’ Journal of Development Economics 88, 217–220
  3. Bhukuth, Augendra. “Defining child labour: a controversial debate” Development in Practice (2008) 18, 385–394
  4. Emerson, Patrick M., and André Portela Souza. “Is Child Labor Harmful? The Impact of Working Earlier in Life on Adult Earnings” Economic Development and Cultural Change 59:345–385, January 2011 DOI: 10.1086/657125 uses data from Brazil to show very strong negative effects–boys who work before age 14 earn much less as adults
  5. All India Reports 1983, 1984, 1996, 1997.
  6. 10th Indian National Five Year Plan
  7. Humbert, Franziska. The Challenge of Child Labour in International Law (2009)
  8. Humphries, Jane. Childhood and Child Labour in the British Industrial Revolution (2010)
  9. ILO, Investing in every child: An economic Study of the Costs and Benefits of Eliminating Child Labor

10.  www.vvg.nli.org

11.  Kirby, Peter. Child Labour in Britain, 1750-1870 (2003)

12.  labour.nic.in

13.  Ravallion, Martin, and Quentin Wodon (2000) ‘Does child labour displace schooling? Evidence on behavioural responses to an enrollment subsidy’ Economic Journal 110, C158-C175