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Child Labour Essay

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The term “child labour” is often used interchangeably with “working child” or “employed child”. While all these terms are defined on the basis of age of the person working. According to the Constitution of India, child labourer may be defined as a person who is below the age of 14 years and is working for an earning. However, child labour denies children the opportunities for mental and physical development and consequently their life chances are marred. Children engaged in domestic work or helping their parents in agricultural or household pursuits do not get income but their work interferes with their childhood activities like education and recreation.

Hence child labour needs to be defined in a manner which will include both paid and unpaid work. The Operation Research Group of Boards has defined a child labourer as a person who is in the age group of 5 to 15 years and who is at paid or unpaid work and remains busy for any hour of the day within or outside the family.

The Concerned for Working Children (CWC) of Bangalore defines a child labourer as “a person who has not completed his/her fifteenth year of age and is working with or without wages/ income on a part-time or full-time basis”.

Poverty and adult unemployment are the main reasons for the existence of child labour, vested interests of employers also encourage its perpetuation. The employers pay low wage to child labour for the same quantum of work that adults can do.

Types of Child Labour.
The ILO has given a typology of child work which is applicable across the countries. The categories are as follows
i) Domestic Non-monetary Work. Children in both rural and urban areas undertake unpaid work within the family for maintenance of the household. It is self- employed and is generally “timeintensive” The activities included in the category are: caring for younger siblings, cooking, cleaning, washing, fetching water etc.
Such work in India is done mainly by girls.

ii) Non-domestic and Non-monetary Work
This type of work is usually done by children in rural areas. It includes activities like tending of livestock, protecting crops from birds and animals, hunting, weeding etc. This work is also timeintensive and is often intermixed with domestic work. iii) Wage Labour

Children work as wage labourers in organised and unorganised sectors in rural and urban areas. They work in artisan production, small scale production, in trade, manufacturing and service occupations. They work in restaurants, as ragpickers, hawkers, newspaper vendors etc. They are preferred to adults because they can be paid low wage for the same quantum of work that an adult does.

iv) Bonded Labour
Children work as bonded labourers. They are pledged by the parents against a debt or loan till the loan with interest is repaid. They work in exchange of food or nominal wage. Sometimes, an agreement is made between the parents of the child and the employer to work for a specific period of time. The bonded labour system is found both in rural and urban unorganised sector. Although bonded labour is abolished by law, it is practiced in many parts of India even today.

 Poverty
 Parental illiteracy
 Tradition of making children learn the family skills
 Absence of universal compulsory Primary education
 Social apathy and tolerance of child labour

 Ignorance of the parents about the adverse consequences of Child labour  Ineffective enforcement of the legal provisions pertaining to child labour  Non-availability of and non-accessibility to schools

 Irrelevant and non-attractive school curriculum
 Employers prefer children as they constitute cheap labour and they are not able to organize themselves against exploitation

Banning of Child Labour
There are two opinions on the question of continuance or banning of child labour in India. One group of people think that child labour should be banned since it is detrimental to physical and mental health of the child and is against the Directive Principles of the Constitution of India. The other group considers abolition of poverty as a pre-condition for abolition of child labour. They pled that child labour should be regulated so that children are not employed in hazardous work. The Government of India is taking steps to constitute a Technical Committee for identifying occupations which are hazardous for children.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 prohibits the employment of child labour below age of 14 in factories, mines and in other firms of hazardous employment and regulates the working conditions of the children in other employment. Following another notification in 1993 under their law the government has prohibited employment of children in the Slaughter houses, printing, cashew de-scaling and processing, and soldering.

In 1994 a National Authority for the elimination of Child Labour was set up under the chairmanship of the Labour Minister to co-ordinate the efforts of different arms of the government for the progressive elimination of child labour.

The Government of India has also adopted a National Labour Policy in 1987 in accordance with the constitutional mandate and the prevailing legislation on child labour.

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