The child is a soul with a being, a nature and capacities of its own, who must be helped to find them, to grow into their maturity, into the fullness of physical and vital energy and the utmost breadth, depth, and height of its emotional, intellectual and spiritual being; otherwise there cannot be a healthy growth of the nation.- P N Bhagawati.
A large number of children in India are quite strangers to the joys and innocence of the formative years of their lives. Instead of enjoying their early steps on their life’s journey, they are forced to work under conditions of slavery. Child labor persists due to the inefficiency of law, administrative system, and exploitative tendencies on the part of employers. Not all children in India are lucky to enjoy their childhood. Rural areas employ the largest number of child labor. In urban areas, they work in dhabas, tea stalls and restaurants, and households. They are shamelessly exploited in the unorganized sector as domestic servants, hawkers, rag-pickers, paper vendors, agricultural laborers, and workers in industrial concerns.
Factors such as poverty, lack of social security, the increasing gap between the rich and the poor have adversely affected children more than any other group. We have failed to provide universal education, which results in children dropping out of school and entering the labor force. Loss of jobs of parents in a slowdown, farmers’ suicide, armed conflicts, and high costs of healthcare are other factors contributing to child labor.
The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act enacted in 1986, prohibited children younger than the age of 14, from being employed as child labor in hazardous occupations. Significantly in 2009, India passed the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE). More recently, the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016, passed by Parliament, prohibits “the engagement of children in all occupations and of adolescents in hazardous occupations and processes”. Here adolescents refer to those under 18 years; children to those under 14. The Act also imposes a stringent penalty on anyone who employs or permits adolescents to work. According to Article 24, no child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or any hazardous employment (but not in non-hazardous industries). As per Article 39(f)), childhood and youth are to be protected against exploitation and moral and material abandonment. Article 45 stipulates that the state shall endeavor to provide within 10 years from the commencement of the Constitution free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of 14 years.
Despite legislation banning child labor, it has not been possible to completely stop the practice of hiring children as labor across the world. India is no exception to the employment of children as labor; rather the country employs the largest number of child laborers in the world. Collective efforts are needed on the part of society and the government to put an end to the practice of child labor. Every citizen should take a pledge to never employ child laborers, rather discourage others too from doing so. We should create awareness amongst people employing child laborers and the parents sending their children to work. We need to provide our children a happy childhood where they can enjoy the best period of their lives with a merry and carefree attitude.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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