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UNDP commissioned study flags ‘labour issues’


A recent joint study, commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and The Coca-Cola Company, has noted that in some of the sugarcane producing states, such as Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, authorities discounted underage child labour as “children helping parents in the field”.


GS-II: Social Justice (Issues Related to Children and Employment, Governance and Government Policies, Issues Arising Out of Design & Implementation of Policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of the Study on Child Labour
  2. What is Child Labour and Forced Labour?
  3. Constitutional Provisions for Children
  4. Provisions of Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016

Highlights of the Study on Child Labour

  • Most of the interventions in the sugarcane sector, either by government authorities or by the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm of companies, were focused just on “improving farming techniques to ensure an increase in cane productivity”.
  • Authorities discounted underage child labour as “children helping parents in the field”.
  • Similarly, confusion was about the advance payment to migrant workers, and associated risks of forced or bonded labour.

Highlights related to India

  • According to data from Census 2011, the number of child labourers in India is more than 1 crore of which 56 lakhs are boys and 45 lakhs are girls.
  • Despite rates of child labour declining over the last few years, children are still being used in some severe forms of child labour such as bonded labour, child soldiers, and trafficking. Across India child labourers can be found in a variety of industries: in brick kilns, carpet weaving, garment making, domestic service, food and refreshment services (such as tea stalls), agriculture, fisheries and mining. Children are also at risk of various other forms of exploitation including sexual exploitation and production of child pornography, including online.
  • Child labour and exploitation are the result of many factors, including poverty, social norms condoning them, lack of decent work opportunities for adults and adolescents, migration and emergencies. These factors are not only the cause but also a consequence of social inequities reinforced by discrimination.     

What is Child Labour and Forced Labour?

  • The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.
  • Forced labour is defined as “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily”.
  • The term forced labour includes slavery and practices similar to slavery as well as bonded labour or debt bondage.
  • Bonded Labour is a practice in which employers give high-interest loans to workers who work at low wages to pay off the debt.

Constitutional Provisions for Children

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Article 39: The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing
  4. (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.

Provisions of Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016

  • According to the Provisions of Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016 employment of children below the age of 14 years in any commercial enterprise is illegal.
  • The Act also bars the employment of adolescents in occupations that deal with hazardous working conditions such as chemical plants and mines.
  • The Act says that children can only work after school hours or during holidays and that children are allowed to work in family-owned secure sectors.

Issues with the Act

  • The Act allows child labour in “family or family enterprises” or allows the child to be “an artist in an audio-visual entertainment industry”.
  • It excludes a section of toiling children in the unorganized sectors including agriculture as well as the household work.
  • The Act does not define the hours of work and it simply states that children may work after school hours or during vacations.

-Source: Indian Express

July 2024