News Of The Month
Spurt in child labour in urban India

Recently India, demonstrated its commitment to end child labour completely by moving ahead in its resolve and ratifying the two key conventions on Child Labour at the International Labour Conference in Geneva. This comes closely after a new framework, new rules were developed, ‘Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation Amendment) Act, 2016’ and approved by the government to address the concerns of child labour in India. Activists have expressed that the new law is more progressive in its approach and goal to target the issue.

As per the new rules, children below the age of 14 cannot be employed but children between the age of 14-18 years can work in non-hazardous occupations and assist their families in businesses after completing their school hours. According to UNICEF, over 3, 00, 000 children are forced to work and this generates around $150 million a year in illegal profits. In India alone 10.1 million children fall prey to hazardous occupations and end up spending their growing years toiling hard. Most of these young literate laborers are working in urban areas and cities of Kerala and Tamil Nadu ('State of Child Workers in India' 2017, UNICEF). One of the primary reasons being easy availability of minor odd jobs which many psychologists say leads to an addiction of easy money to these young minds who start skipping schools soon. Employers can pay less to a child labourer and exploit him more as compared to an adult.

The Indian government has introduced many flagship welfare schemes like Right to Education Act and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) with an aim to contribute to putting more children in schools but activists have pointed out that there are many factors which have led to a high dropout rate subsequently increased child labour. Some of these factors need immediate attention.

Accessibility of schools in neighborhood, good infrastructure, and buildings with clean toilets and clean drinking water if attended too, can prevent drop outs and encourage children to stay in schools. Social and cultural prejudices like caste and class also lead to many children taking up laboring jobs than sitting in a class room and reading for a bright future.

The need of the hour is a multi-pronged strategy which can really address the lacunae in all influencing areas like child education, nutrition as well as strict monitoring and evaluation of the situation.

Child labour is a menace and would also require a strong support from the society to completely eliminate i.

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