Child labour

Sagnik Saha

Editor’s note:

Child labour, the act of minors working in potentially dangerous activities, has more downfalls than what meets the eye. Not only are children forced to gamble on their health and safety, the wages and job availability for adults decreases as well. This leads to a downward spiral of economic backwardness. This paper examines the condition of children working as child labour – their lack of healthy sustenance, ailments, illnesses, and the scope of the problem. It also touches upon the vital questions – steps taken by the government, as well as the impact of social movements such as Bachpan Bachao Andolan, the Child Labor (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986, National Policy on Child Labor, Child & Adolescent Labour (Prohibition) Act, 2012, and so on.


Child labour is the act of holding minors in labour intensive activities, on temporary or permanent schedule. In spite of the thought that it is better when all parts of a family, with no distinction in age, work for gaining economic benefits, minors working in labour intensive sectors, really pushes destitution away from its reduction . The more minors are compelled to work, the fewer chances are there for mature people to gain a living. By driving down the wages of adults and denying minors of training, The investment of labour by minors, brings about economic backwardness passing down from era to era. As stated by the International work Organization (ILO) “Destined to folks who themselves were uneducated youngster specialists, numerous kid laborer are compelled to proceed with a custom that abandons them anchored to a life of neediness” (ILO, United States Policies to Address Child Labour Globally, 2010).

Condition of children working as child labour

Despite the fact that India has the biggest number of minor workers under the age 14 on the planet, the issue of minors working is not specific to India; around the world, in numerous nations youngsters are compelled to work with terrible outcomes. Kids, under the age of 14 are frequently compelled to work for more than 18 hours a day. They are liable to lack of healthy sustenance, hindered vision, disfigurements from sitting extend periods of time in confined over packed work places, and they get simple preys to fatal ailments like genuine respiratory illnesses, T.B., and Cancer. They are frequently compelled to lead single lives far from their families, denied of compelling training and chances to prepare that could equip them for a finer future. Minors providing labour not just prompt a never-ending cycle of economic backwardness for a family, it discourages the economy additionally. The colossal profits of nullification of minor labour investment can’t be measured in monetary terms alone, its enormous long haul gainful effect on the society overall far outweighs the ostensible financial hardship. Child labor is distinguished as a genuine and gigantically intricate social issue in India. The Census discovered an increment in the amount of minor workers from 11.28 million in 1991 to 12.66 million in 2001. Moreover, almost 85 per cent of minor workers in India are unorganized, intangible and prohibited, as they work to a great extent in the disorderly division, both provincial and urban, inside the family or in family unit based units.[i]


The issue of child labour keeps posing a test before the country. The government continues to take various stringent steps to counter this issue. Be that as it may, acknowledging the size and degree of the issue and that it is basically a socio-economic issue having its origin to poor economic standards and absence of education, it requires purposeful deliberations from all segments of the social order to make headway in the issue.[ii]

As stated by the Census of 200 figures, there are 1.26 crore children providing labour in the age bracket of 5-14 as contrasted with the overall populace of children, which is 25.2 crore. There are around 12 lakh kids working under the category of Dangerous Occupations which are secured under the Child Labor (Prohibition & Regulation) Act which includes 18 forms of occupation and 65 methods involved in various sectors. Notwithstanding, according to study directed by National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) in 2004-05, the population of children who provide labour is seen to be around 90.75 lakh. It indicates that the deliberations of the Government have shown a positive reaction from the statistics available.

Since destitution is the main driver of this issue, and implementation alone can’t help comprehend it, Government has been giving a great deal of attention on the recovery of these kids and on enhancing the financial states of their families.

Questions presented

What are the steps that have been taken by the government to counter child labour?

Has there been any social movement based on abolishing of child labour? If yes, what are the objectives, outcomes and demands of the movement?

Movements related to abolishing of child labour

Yes, one of the movements involved with children is Bachpan Bachao Andolan, which is one of the largest movements aimed at saving children from the clutches of traffickers, users of child labour, etc. They have rescued an estimated eighty two thousand children and rehabilitated them. Bachpan Bachao Andolan also played a big role in rallying support for the amendment to the Child Labor (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986, called Child & Adolescent Labour (Prohibition) Act, 2012. Their vision is to provide children with a child friendly environment and they are free from any kind of exploitation while receiving proper education. The strategies taken up are identification of the victims, rehabilitating them, providing them with assistance and prosecuting the culprits by taken legal recourse. They have held campaigns like Anti Firecracker Campaign to bring to light the inhuman conditions of the children working in the fire cracker industry. It then held the Fairplay Campaign to point out the conditions of the children working in sports goods manufacturing industries.[iii]

Statutory provisions regarding safeguarding of children against child labour[iv]

Taking into account the proposals of Gurupadaswamy Committee, the Child Labor (Prohibition & Regulation) Act was instituted in 1986. The Act disallows livelihood of kids in certain mentioned perilous jobs and methods involved and directs the working conditions in others.  The chart of risky occupations and methodologies is logically being developed on the proposal of Child Labor Technical Advisory Committee formed under the Act.

In tune with the steps taken, a National Policy on Child Labor was planned in 1987. The Policy tries to embrace a slow & successive methodology with a emphasis on rehabilitating the children who work in risky occupations & methods in the first occurrence. The Action Plan sketched out in the Policy for handling this issue is as mentioned below:

Legislative Action Plan for strict implementation of Child Labor Act and other laws related to labour to guarantee that minors are not utilized in dangerous occupations, and that the working state of minors providing labour in safe ranges of occupation are managed as per the rules of the Child Labor Act. It additionally involves further recognizable proof of extra occupations and procedures, which are impeding to the health and security of the minors who are working.

Focusing of General Developmental Programs for Benefiting Child Labor – As financial backwardness is the underlying driver behind minors proving labour, the strategy decided upon stresses the necessity to blanket these youngsters and their kin additionally under different schemes related to poverty reduction and jobs recruiting plans of the Government.

Project Based Plan of Action conceives beginning of tasks in ranges of high centralization of children providing labour. As per this, in 1988, the National Child Labor Project (NCLP) Scheme was started in 9 districts of high density of minors providing labour around the nation. The Scheme visualizes running of rehabilitation schools for minors who have been rescued from child labour. In the rehabilitation schools, these kids are given formal/non-formal training alongside professional preparation, an allowance of Rs.150 for every month; additional nutrition and normal body check ups to equip them to join general standard schools. Under the Scheme, stores are provided for the District Collectors for running rehabilitation schools for minors who have been rescued from the evil of child labour. The greater part of these schools is controlled by the nonprofit organizations in the region.

Child & Adolescent Labour (Prohibition) Act was passed on 28 August 2012. This was an amendment to the already existent the Child Labor (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986. This act bans all child labour below the age of 14 years in hazardous working environments, making it a criminal offence. The minimum age for employing a child has also been revised from 14 years to 18 years. This coupled with the Right to Education act will enhance the chances of children not working but devoting their childhood primarily to education thus bolstering their and the nation’s future. [v] Right to Education under Art.21 (A) states that “The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of 6 to 14 years in such manner as the State, by law, may determine.” [vi]

Prohibition of Employment of Children’s in Factories under Art. 24 states that “No child below the age fourteen years shall be employed in work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.” [vii]


The work that been done for safeguarding children against the evils of child labour are quite far reaching. It shows hope and passion on part of the government. A myth has also been cleared out that children go out in search of work for supplementing the meager income of their family. Indeed child labour hurts our economy.  The statutory rules that have been strategically placed in order to get the maximum out of these children are quite optimistic (Child & Adolescent Labour (Prohibition) Act coupled with Right to Education Act) but a lot more has to be done to even achieve a substantial percentage of success as India still employs the largest number of child labours in the 14 to 18 age group.

Edited by Neerja Gurnani

[i] Children Engaged in Work, Chapter 6 available at (Last Visited on 17/03/2014 at 9:34 pm)

[ii]Child Labour available at (Last Visited on 19/3/2014 at 7:54 pm)

[iii]  Policy, Campaign, Vision available at (Last Visited on 19/3/2014 at 5:22 pm)

[iv] Statutory Provisions Regarding Safeguarding of Children Against Child Labour available at (Last Visited on 18/3/2014 at 6:54 pm)

[v] Child & Adolescent Labour (Prohibition) Act available at (Last Visited on 17/3/2014 at 2:28 pm)

[vi] Right to Education Act available at (Last Visited on 18/3/2014 at 6:40 pm)

[vii] Prohibition of Employment of Children’s in Factories available at (Last Visited on 18/3/2014 at 6:57 pm)

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