Call Us Now

+91 9606900005 / 04

For Enquiry

legacyiasacademy@gmail.com

Editorials/Opinions Analyses for UPSC – 2 June 2021

Contents

1. Breaking the cycle of child labour is in India’s hands


Breaking the cycle of child labour is in India’s hands

Context:

The true extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on child labour is yet to be measured but all indications show that it would be significant as children are unable to attend school and parents are unable to find work. However, not all the factors that contribute to child labour were created by the pandemic; most of them were pre-existing and have been exposed or amplified by it.

 

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Issues Related to Children, Government Interventions and Policies, Issues arising out of the design and implementation of Government Policies)

Mains Questions:

As the pandemic has amplified the contributing factors of child labour in India, what are the changes that can be made to save children from child labour? (10 marks)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Definition of Child and Child Labour
  2. State of Child Labour in the World
  3. Data regarding Child Labour in India
  4. Good news: A decrease in India
  5. The Present Problem
  6. Legislations in India regarding Child Labour
  7. Conclusion

Definition of Child and Child Labour

  • As per the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, amended in 2016 (CLPR Act), a “Child” is defined as any person below the age of 14, and the CLPR Act prohibits employment of a Child in any employment including as a domestic help.
  • Children between age of 14 and 18 are defined as “Adolescent” and the law allows Adolescent to be employed except in the listed hazardous occupation and processes which include mining, inflammable substance and explosives related work and any other hazardous process as per the Factories Act, 1948.

Criticisms of CLPR definition

  • It is criticised that the CLPR Act allows child labour in “family or family enterprises” or allows the child to be “an artist in an audio-visual entertainment industry”.
  • It is criticised that the Act allows child labour in “family or family enterprises” or allows the child to be “an artist in an audio-visual entertainment industry”.

Other Definitions/Conditions

  • India’s Census 2001 office, defines child labour as participation of a child less than 17 years of age in any economically productive activity with or without compensation, wages or profit.
  • Factories Act, 1948 prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in any factory. The law also placed rules on who, when and how long can pre-adults aged 15–18 years be employed in any factory.
  • National Policy on Child Labour in 1987 also says that “no, child below age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any hazardous employment”.

State of Child Labour in the World

  • Already, there are an estimated 150+ million children in child labour, 70+ million of which are in hazardous work.
  • Almost one in ten of all children worldwide are in child labour.
  • While the number of children in child labour has declined by 94 million since 2000, the rate of reduction slowed by two-thirds in recent years.
  • The Africa and the Asia and the Pacific regions together account for almost nine out of every ten children in child labour worldwide.
  • Africa ranks highest among regions both in the percentage of children in child labour and the absolute number of children in child labour. Asia and the Pacific ranks second highest in both these measures.
  • While the percentage of children in child labour is highest in low-income countries, their numbers are actually greater in middle-income countries.

Data regarding Child Labour in India

  • The Census of India 2011 reports 10.1 million working children in the age group of 5-14 years, out of whom 8.1 million are in rural areas mainly engaged as cultivators (26%) and agricultural labourers (32.9%).
  • While multiple data vary widely on enrolment/attendance ratios in India, UNESCO estimates based on the 2011 Census record 38.1 million children as “out of school” (18.3% of total children in the age group of 6-13 years). Work performed may not appear to be immediately dangerous, but it may produce long-term and devastating consequences for their education, their skills acquisition, and hence their future possibilities to overcome the vicious circle of poverty, incomplete education and poor-quality jobs.
  • A Rapid Survey on Children (2013-14), jointly undertaken by the Ministry of Women and Child Development and UNICEF, found that less than half of children in the age group of 10-14 years have completed primary education.
  • A Government of India survey (NSS report) in 2017-18, suggests that 95% of the children in the age group of 6-13 years are attending educational institutions (formal and informal) while the corresponding figures for those in the age group of 14-17 years is 79.6%. Hence, a large number of children in India remain vulnerable, facing physical and psychological risks to a healthy development.

Good news: A decrease in India

  • One piece of good news is that child labour in India decreased in the decade 2001 to 2011, and this demonstrates that the right combination of policy and programmatic interventions can make a difference.
  • While child labour has declined during the past decade globally, estimates indicate that the rate of reduction has slowed by two-thirds in the most recent four-year period. These positive and negative trends have to be taken into account when developing India’s policy and programmatic response during and after the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  • Policy interventions such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) 2005, the Right to Education Act 2009 and the Mid Day Meal Scheme have paved the way for children to be in schools along with guaranteed wage employment (unskilled) for rural families.
  • Ratifying International Labour Organization Conventions Nos. 138 and 182 in 2017, the Indian government further demonstrated its commitment to the elimination of child labour including those engaged in hazardous occupations.
  • The Ministry of Labour and Employment-operated online portal, Platform for Effective Enforcement for No Child Labour (PENCIL) Portal since 2017. It allows government officials, law enforcement agencies and non-governmental organisations to share information and coordinate on child labour cases at the national, State and local levels for effective enforcement of child labour laws.

The Present Problem

  • The economic contraction and lockdowns ensuing from the pandemic have affected all countries in Asia, leading to income reductions for enterprises and workers, many of them in the informal economy.
  • The large number of returned migrant workers has compounded the socio-economic challenges.
  • India experienced slower economic growth and rising unemployment even before the pandemic. Subsequent lockdowns have worsened the situation, posing a real risk of backtracking the gains made in eliminating child labour.
  • With increased economic insecurity, lack of social protection and reduced household income, children from poor households are being pushed to contribute to the family income with the risk of exposure to exploitative work.
  • With closure of schools and challenges of distance learning, children may drop out leaving little scope for return unless affirmative and immediate actions are taken. As many schools and educational institutions are moving to online platforms for continuation of learning, the ‘digital divide’ is a challenge that India has to reconcile within the next several years.
  • The NSS Report No. 585 titled ‘Household Social Consumption on Education in India’ suggests that in 2017-18, only 24% of Indian households had access to an Internet facility, proportions were 15% among rural households and 42% among urban households. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2020 survey highlights that a third of the total enrolled children received some kind of learning materials from their teachers during the reference period (October 2020) as digital mode of education was opted for.

Legislations in India regarding Child Labour

  1. The CLPR Act prohibits employment of a Child in ANY employment including as a domestic help. It is a cognizable criminal offence to employ a Child for any work.
  2. Children between age of 14 and 18 are defined as “Adolescent” and the law allows Adolescent to be employed except in the listed hazardous occupation and processes which include mining, inflammable substance and explosives related work and any other hazardous process as per the Factories Act, 1948.
  3. The Constitution of India prohibits child labour in hazardous industries (but not in non-hazardous industries) as a Fundamental Right under Article 24.
  4. In addition to the constitutional prohibition of hazardous child labour, various laws in India, such as the Juvenile Justice (care and protection) of Children Act-2000, and the Child Labour (Prohibition and Abolition) Act-1986 provide a basis in law to identify, prosecute and stop child labour in India.

Conclusion

  • The challenges in tackling Child Labour problems are significant and manifold but it is not impossible to meet them if the right level of commitment among all the relevant stakeholders and the right mix of policy and programmatic interventions are present.
  • are significant and manifold but it is not impossible to meet them if the right level of commitment among all the relevant stakeholders and the right mix of policy and programmatic interventions are present.
  • We need a strong alliance paving our way towards ending child labour in all its forms by 2025 as countries around the world have agreed to in Sustainable Development Goal 8.7.
  • Governments, employers, unions, civil society organisations and even individuals — must rise and pledge to ‘Take Action against Child Labour’ as a part of the UN’s declaration of 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.

-Source: The Hindu

Download PDF
October 2022
MTWTFSS
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31 
Categories