Thursday, June 18, 2009

Child labour in India: NGOs demand to repeal state government’s child labour resolution

(This entry was originally uploaded on May 2009.)

On April 30, 2009, on the ‘Anti-Child Labour Day,’ NGO activists demanded the government to revoke the new resolution on child labourers which confines the age of child labourers upto fourteen years. Nakul Kate, co-ordinator, Action for Rights of Children, said that the earlier GR issued by the state government on April 25, 2006, defined any person upto eighteen years as child labourers. If necessary, police could take necessary actions to stop child labor under the Juvenil Justice Act (JJ). Now, the new resolution prevents any police action for children who are in the age range of fifteen to eighteen years.

Manish Shroff, member, Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL) Pune and Action for the Rights of the Child (ARC) told reporters that the state government in 2008, produced an affidavit before the Bombay High court to eradicate child labour within the next two years but the way things are moving this goal seems too far fetched.

During the raids in Pune, the officials came across many incidents where laborers between 14 and 18 years were employed. The new resolution, which was introduced in March 2, 2009, does not consider children above fourteen years as child labourers.

Government statistics show that around 6.07% children are employed in the state of Pune. In the last two years, in Pune, the NGOs had been able to rescue 134 child labourers. Among the rescued children, 43 were in the age group of 15 to 18 years. According to the statisical figure provided by the labor department of Maharashtra, between October 2006 and March 2008, 735 raids were conducted in the state of Maharashtra from which 3089 children were rescued and 827 arrests were made. Number of kids sent home by employers was 23,483.

Child labour on the decrease in Pune:

According to Pune district labour commissionerate, in 2007-08, cases of child labour in Pune district came down to 74 and in 2008-09, it dropped by 27% to 54. Last year, the commissionerate conducted raids in more than 2,200 establishments. Most of the children worked at hotels, dhabaas, food and beverage outlets, garrage, traffic junctions and garbage depots and all of them were below 14 years who were forced to work. Street children and beggars were also found during the raid. All the children were sent to remand home.

Child labor is not something unusual in India. Even today, there are many factories in small alleys hidden from public eyes where children work with hazardous materials in unhygenic conditions. In order to stop child labour, Indian government banned child labour which came into effect from October 10, 2006. Anyone employing children below fourteen years of age would be liable for prosecution and penal action under the Child Labour Act 1986.

Still, large number of children can be found working today in India. There are many reasons why the Indian government failed to stop child labor. First of all, India is a huge country and there are many places where government can not reach so easily. The government requires more resources and man power to stop child labor. Then there is the problem with the primary educational institutions. Currently, primary education in India is free. Education advocacy group Pratham conducted a survey which revealed tat 94% children in India are enrolled in schools. The survey also revealed that half of the school going children can not read and write. The poor quality of education plays a big part in children drop out. In addition, there is the poverty. Large number people in India can not even earn enough money to buy foods for their families. So these families send their children to work.

However, child labour is not only a serious problem in India but also in other South Asian countries including Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Most of these countries are under developed. Hence, the poverty is very much present in these countries. Hence, child labour is not only a crisis for India but also for South Asia.

Related articles:

National Geographic

Times of India (1)

Times of India (2)

Sakaal Times

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