postheadericon Child Labour


What is child labour and what is its impact on the society?  This is the constant question I ask myself when I see a child working in a hotel or in a garage. We are very much aware of child labour to reduce child labor, the government of India has implemented a number of child welfare laws. The Child Labor Prohibition and Regulation Act was enacted in 1986; the National Policy on Child Labor was introduced in 1987, rehabilitating children and giving them education, nutritious food, and vocational training with a minimum stipend for poor families. Also, the National Child Labor Project (NCLP), launched in 1988, offers these services to rural interior populations (Government of India, Ministry of Labor, National Child Labor Project). What is in our constitution? 

Article 21 A
Right to Education
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, by law, may determine.

Article 24
Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc.
No child below the age fourteen years shall be employed in work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.

Article 39
The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing:-
(e)  that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength.


They are over 12 million child laborers in India, according to the 2001 national census, who are exploited by industries, institutions, and landlords (Gentleman, New York Times, 2/18/2007). Male children may also become beggars or get involved in robbery and female children may become prostitutes to survive. In rural India child labor is seen in many areas; these children are often caught in a cycle of poverty. When they grow up, because of their own illiteracy and poverty, they may also make their children work at young ages. Child Labour is not a recent phenomenon and again, not confined to a particular State. According to 1996 UNICEF and ILO sources, the number of child Labourers in India may be anywhere between 14 to 100 million out of approximately a total 246 million Child workers in the World. Thus, one out of every six children in the world today is involved in child Labour.

What are the reasons for this? Why this is a common Phenomena of the whole world? The push factors include abject poverty, illiteracy, and lack of awareness, parents' unwariness and a child un-friendly mindset in communities then there are socio-cultural discrimination, gender bias, and denial of legal safeguards and thin outreach of development benefits. The absence of inadequacy of educational facilities, the state's incapability to effectively handle natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, droughts and famines, are other causes. Development disasters such as deforestation, mining and displacement are largely responsible for children falling prey to child labour.

The Indian government is working hard in this area of human rights. The main focus of the National Child Labor Project is to eliminate hazardous conditions for children by providing "basic needs" (food, clothing and shelter) and education. According to the Indian Ministry of Labor, children under the age of eight have been encouraged to stay in school with the support of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (Giving Education to All), a part of the Ministry of Human Resource Development. Older child laborers are mainstreamed into schools, also with the help of this organization. Who help the government?   The Corporate world which is very much involved in the social work can be pulled to help the governme Education is a crucial component of any effective effort to eliminate child labour. There are many interlinked explanations for child labour. No single factor can fully explain its persistence and, in some cases, growth. The way in which different causes, at different levels, interact with each other ultimately determines whether or not an individual child becomes a child labourer. The corporate world can be roped in this activity and help the children to be educated formally or informally. The magnitude of the child labor problem is so huge that single-handed intervention can never solve the problem. We believe that sustainable end to child labour, forced labour and trafficking cannot be achieved without the active will and support of the corporate community. There is need for not only intra-sectoral alliance building but also inter-sectoral coalition. Unless we rope in multiple stakeholders like Human Rights Groups, Teachers Union, Trade Union and political parties and Corporates etc, the problem of child labour will remain long unresolved

Greedy employers looking for a vulnerable, docile and cheap workforce, bribery and other forms of corruption will add to this misery. The corporate world needs to follow the rules and regulations of the country/state. They should not seek the easy way to get labourers for their profit or their interest. This basic commitment is need from them besides their CSR work.
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 Shri 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.  


Fr. Vijay D'Souza sj
Written by Fr Vijay D'Souza sj
      vijudsouza@gmail.com

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