‘Chhotu’, a common name often used to call-out young lads at roadside eateries, tea stalls, cycle repair shops or general stores and at many such places. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) 2014 reports that a total of 8,228,481 children between 5 to 14 years of age are working as child labour in India. According to NCPCR 2014, Uttar Pradesh leads with the most number of child-labourers in the state, Bihar follows the suit and holds the second position.
Despite significant improvement in technology and economic policies the widening gap between the prosperous and under-privileged sections of the society has increased due to lack of socio-economic capital. This has resulted in a situation where the primary sector has not grown as compared to the services sector. India still is a country which has nearly 65 per cent population dependent on agriculture as their primary source of livelihood. Left with no other source of income, this prevents the farming community from having access to basic needs. Also, extreme climatic conditions such as droughts are pushing the farmers into the poverty trap. Thus, social insecurity and extreme poverty makes their children vulnerable and promotes child- labour among them. Lack of quality education at government schools also add up to the number of school drop-outs, forcing a number of them to participate in the labour force. However, the total number of children entering the workforce every year go unnoticed. The ready-availability of children as cheap- labour expose them to exploitation. This also puts children in in-humane working conditions like working without food at meagre wages. In many cases, they fall victims to physical and sexual assault.
In the last year, the government of India gave its affirmation on permitting children below 14 years of age group to work in guarded family enterprises after attending their regular school. This announcement invited criticism from several social activists who have been working towards making India child-labour free. According to them, this will promote child labour, rather than reducing the number significantly. Government’s decision indicates the ideology of the policy makers in helping a child balance education with socio-economic conditions. Thus, the Indian cabinet professed a child’s participation in a family-run businesses.
In 2002, the International Labour Organization (ILO) celebrated World Day against Child Labour for the first time. The theme for this year is ‘End Child Labour in Supply chains‘. In India, while a large part of children population is found working as domestic helpers and assistants in eateries; a significant number of them can be found working crucially in production of goods. This World Day against Child Labour, let’s help these young ones to brighten their future.
By – Aditi Singh
Media Team – Fiinovation