RE-THINKING CHILD LABOUR

Thanks goes to Sudha Kaur in India for her thoughtful guest post!

RE-THINKING CHILD LABOUR by Sudha Kaur

Gandhi for Children | Fight Child trafficking | Forced Child LabourThe arduous issue of child labour is a developmental issue worth investigating. The conception that children are being exploited and forced into labour, while not receiving education severe to developments, concerns many people. India is the one of the largest example of the nation plagued by the problem of child labour. India has the highest number of child labour in the world. Why? Coz, around 15 million children are working in India.

What are the causes of child labour in India? How do governmental policies affect it? What role does education play in regard to child labour in India? What are children doing in terms of work? How necessary is child labour to families in India? What role does poverty play? What is the current state of education in India in comparison to other developing countries? How many children are involved? There are lots of various question arises in our mind.

child labour indiaFirst I want to discuss about the problem of child labour in India, but it is difficult to say a current figure for the number of children engaged in child labour. In fact, the Indian government has been negligent in its refusal to collect and analyze the current data, regarding the incidence of child labour. The 1981 Indian census reports that there were 13.6 million and in Indian government reports that there were between 17 and 21 million child labours in India. And the 1983, Indian census reports that there were 17.4 million child labourers in India, but UNICEF cites figures reports that there were between 75 to 90 million child labourers under the age of 14 in India.

A Universal difficulty in obtaining accurate data may be that individuals fail to report child labour participation during surveys, for fear of persecution. And in historical census data shows an overall child work participation rate of 12.69% in 1961 and 7.13% in 1971. But this data is misleading because unpaid child labour is not included in the 1971 census, thus a comparison cannot be completely valid. Although the figure for the number of child labourers increases when considering that the Child Economic Activity rate for 1980 to 91 was 13.5% for males and 10.3% for females. In comparisons, other developing countries such as Sri Lanka and Malaysia have lower activity rates, 5.3% for males and 4.6% for females in Sri Lanka and 8.8% for males and 6.5% for females in Malaysia.

Now, I want to discuss a most important question related to the child labour, what are children doing in terms of work? Ya! It is too much important coz, the 1981 census of India divided child labour into nine industrial divisions.

The divisions are:

Agricultural labour

Construction

Cultivation

Live stock, Forestry, Fishing, Plantation

Mining and quarrying

Manufacturing, processing, Servicing and Repairs

Trade and Commerce

Transport, Storage and Communication and

Other services

Rural child workers and urban child workers are distributed differently in these various industrial divisions. 39.16% of urban labourers are involved in manufacturing, processing, serving and repairs. And exactly 45.42% of rural labourers are engaged in agricultural division. In 1992, the International Labour Organization estimates the number of bonded child labour in India at close to 1 million.

But sorry to say that children are working but they are not employed, why so? What the causes ? Do you know that only the children of the tea workers work as child workers in Nepal? The only exception is the Loknath Tea Estate on the southern border. Children come to work in the morning and return in the evening. According to the workers of the tea estate, up to 40 Indian children work during the plucking seasoning and 15 to 20 such children work during the rest of the year in the tea estate. Exactly 26.7% boys and 34.9% girls from the government tea estate workers families and 47.3% boys and 58.4% girls from the private tea estate workers families do not go to school. Out of this large number of children who do not go to school, 24.7% are involved in household and income generating work and the remaining 17.9% are idlers.

This huge mass of idlers and semi idlers are the potential child workers in the present situation.

Now we may think that how necessary is child labour to families in India? Actually child labour is a source of income for poor families. And we found that a childs income accounted for between 34 and 37% of the total household income. This study concludes that a child labourers income is important to the livelihood of a poor family. There is a questionable aspect of this study. Through survey, the parents of the child labourers gave the responses. Parents would be biased into being compelled to support their decision to send their children to work, by saying that it is essential. They are probably right for most poor families in India, alternative sources of income are close to non-existent.

And for their indigence, Indian government policy would be applied on child labour. From the time of it’s independence, India has committed itself to be against child labour. Article 24 of the Indian constitution clearly states that no child below the age of 14 yrs shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any hazardous employment. And article 39(e) directs state policy that the health and strength of workers, men and women and the tender age of children are not to be abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter vocations unsuited to their age or strength. These two articles show that India has always had the goal of taking care of its children and ensuring the safety of workers.

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing ! This is very good blog about child labor and trafficking!

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