The problem of child labor is a socio-economic problem; and the rise of this phenomenon in an alarming proportion has caused a serious concern in India.
Age: The children belonging to the age groups, ranging from six to fourteen years, in the developing countries are engaged in different types of manual labor.
Where found? The working children in India are mostly engaged in hotels, building sites, factories and in houses as domestic servants. The manufacturing centers, match industry, coal mining industry, lock-making factories, carpet weaving concerns, match industry, diamond polishing industry, glass industry, etc. provide a great bulk of the total population of the working children in India.
Why factories employ children? Many children are employed by the factory-owners. These children have no union and they will never mobilize themselves to agitate against their employers for reasonable salaries and other allied amenities; and for the obvious reason, such unfortunate human species are being inhumanly exploited.
Effects: The working children are deprived of education; and thus, their physical and mental growth is hindered. Being ill fed and ill-clad, they fall victims to various diseases such as asthma and tuberculosis, etc. The environments in which such species of humanity are nurtured, lead them inevitably to the addiction to country liquor, tobacco, etc. to ward off fatigue.
Child labour prohibition Law and Measures: While framing the Constitution of India, the makers did not forget to give due emphasis on the question of protecting the rights of the working children. The said constitution distinctly envisages the rights of the children below fourteen years of age as the fundamental rights to protect them.
The Article 24 of Indian Constitution reads thus – ‘no child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or engaged in any other hazardous employment’.
Laws are designed to protect minors of age from exploitaton. The key law that we need to know about when it comes to the prohibition of child labour in India is the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act which was passed in 1986.
This act bans children from being employed. Children are defined as anyone below 14 years of age. That means that it is illegal for companies to pay children to work for them. It is also illegal, of course, to make children work without paying them: but this would be prohibited under laws that relate to slave labour.
Prior to this Act, there were certain laws in place that frowned upon employing workers below 14 and 15 years of age.
Solution: But, these laws are not sufficient to counter the prevailing plight of the working children. It is because mere legislation without the simultaneous measures to implement them, does not work. The solution lies in the social awakening coupled with the honest bid of the government to translate the intended measures into reality.
Edited with inputs from various contributors.