Child labor: Children are meant to learn and not to earn!
Sameer ul Islam
Child labor is a major problem in India. Child labor has been an international concern because it damages, spoils and destroys the future of children. The problem of child labor is a serious matter not only in India but also in other developing countries. It is a great social problem. Children are the hope and future of a nation.
Yet there are millions of deprived children in our country who never known a normal, carefree childhood. It is poverty that forces a child to earn money to support his family though it is prevalent in the whole of the country the problem is acute in socio-economically weaker states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chattisgrah,Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and North eastern states.
Besides poverty, lack of education and accessible sources of credit forces poor parents to engage their children as child labor. The big challenge for India, as a developing country is to provide nutrition, education and health care to these children.
Child labor is a great socio-economic problem, but in fact it is a source of income for poor families. Children essentially work to maintain the economic level of households, either in the form of a work of wages or in household enterprises, or in household chores.
In all the activities the basic objective is to provide the family financial support. In some cases it has been found that a child’s income accounted for between 34 and 37 percent of the total household income. A child laborers income is important to the livelihood of a poor family.
The law in Indian soil says that any child below the age of 14 cannot be employed as a labor in a factory or office or restaurant. Truly speaking child is frequently utilized in India in various places of production and services like small scale industry, restaurant service, domestic aid, shopkeeper’s assistant, stone breaking, book binding, in fact in every household industry.
The constitution of India prohibits child labor in hazardous industries as a fundamental right under article 24. UNICEF estimates that India with its large population has the highest number of labors in the world 14 years of age.
The 2011 national census of India found the total number of child laborers aged 5 to 14 to be at 4.35 million and the total child population to be 259.64 million in that age group.
According to statistics given by government of India there are 20 million child laborers in India.
Some of the major causes of child labor are poverty. Poor families usually keep as many family members working as possible to ensure income security and survival. This makes it very difficult for poor families to invest in their children’s education.
Many children live in areas that do not have adequate school facilities so they work. Many countries do not have free and compulsory education for all which is an obstacle in sending working children to school.
Poor families usually have more children and with large families there is a greater likelihood that children will work and have lower school attendance. Besides, some employers hire children because they can pay them less money. They also offer poor working conditions because children are less likely to complain.
In countries all over the world, countless laws and policies against the exploitation of children already exist; however, the political will to enforce them however is missing.
The solution to the problem of child labour are
The child labour laws need to be strictly enforced by the government.
Society homes should be opened for abandoned child labourers. This will enable them to focus on their education. Besides, the Government of India has started a centrally sponsored scheme of Mid- day meal so as to check the dropout rate in the schools at primary and upper primary level.
Government should ensure that every child gets the opportunity to go to school.
Social revolution is the biggest key. Once media mobilizes the public opinion, a lot of difference could be made.
(The writer is the student of Bsc and can be reached at [email protected])