Child labor is not unique to only India and is found in many places in Africa, South America and even Europe. Western companies such as Gap have come under fire for their exploitation of children in their manufacturing process. Many of these facilities that abuse children for their free labor are located in India.
The main states in India where child labor is present are Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. This is where over half of the country’s total child labor population works. Uttar Pradesh has the highest amount of child laborers, with over 20% of India’s child workers being residents in that state alone. Most of these child laborers are employed in the silk industry that is prevalent in the region.
Despite an economic boom in India, the country faces a significant poverty issue with more than a third of India’s population living under the poverty line. Due to poor living conditions, low levels of income and a lack of job diversity, impoverished families have no alternative but to put their children to work instead of teaching them. Often, these children are sold by their parents to child traffickers to lessen their economic burden and to gain extra money.
The condition of working children and children in forced and bonded labour in the country has always been concerning in India, but the pandemic has likely pushed more children into child labour, including its worst forms, warn child rights organization Educo in India and its partner, Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL) during its recent national webinar.
The problem of child labour continues to pose a challenge before the nation. Government has been taking various pro-active measures to tackle this problem. However, considering the magnitude and extent of the problem and that it is essentially a socio-economic problem inextricably linked to poverty and illiteracy, it requires concerted efforts from all sections of the society to make a dent in the problem.
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.
Child labour has traditionally been understood as a symptom of economic underdevelopment. This conception assumes that if a country is able to achieve higher rates of economic growth, it will automatically eliminate poverty because of which child labour will cease to exist. If there is sufficient political will to enforce primary education, then children can be kept away from hazardous workplaces.
Education is a very important part of development. Children who are drawn to child labor are basically driven because of economic deprivation, lack of schooling and engagement of family for daily needs. Studies have found low enrollment with increased rates of child employment. Schools are the platform for early intervention against child labor, as it restricts their participation in menial jobs. Hurdles in this approach are economic reasons. Unless economic change is brought about, the children will not be able to attend the school. Child labor can be controlled by economic development increasing awareness and making education affordable across all levels, and enforcement of anti child labor laws.
Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009, which marks a historic moment for the children of India. For the first time in India’s history, children will be guaranteed their right to quality elementary education by the state with the help of families and communities. The world cannot reach its goal to have every child complete primary school by 2015 without India. Although there have been significant improvements in the proportion of children from socially disadvantaged groups in school, gaps still remain.
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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We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.
We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge