Sample Material of Current Public Administration Magazine
Society and Culture
Problem of child labour
The problem of child labour continues to pose a challenge
before the nation. Government has been taking various pro-active measures to
tackle this problem. However, considering the magnitude and extent of the
problem and that it is essentially a socio-economic problem inextricably linked
to poverty and illiteracy, it requires concerted efforts from all sections of
the society to make a dent in the problem.
According to the Census 2001 figures there are 1.26 crore
working children in the age group of 5-14 as compared to the total child
population of 25.2 crore. There are approximately 12 lakhs children working in
the hazardous occupations/processes which are covered under the Child Labour
(Prohibition & Regulation) Act i.e. 18 occupations and 65 processes. However, as
per survey conducted by National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) in 2004-05,
the number of working children is estimated at 90.75 lakh. It shows that the
efforts of the Government have borne the desired fruits.
Way back in 1979, Government formed the first committee
called Gurupadswamy Committee to study the issue of child labour and to suggest
measures to tackle it. The Committee examined the problem in detail and made
some far-reaching recommendations. It observed that as long as poverty
continued, it would be difficult to totally eliminate child labour and hence,
any attempt to abolish it through legal recourse would not be a practical
proposition. The Committee felt that in the circumstances, the only alternative
left was to ban child labour in hazardous areas and to regulate and ameliorate
the conditions of work in other areas. It recommended that a multiple policy
approach was required in dealing with the problems of working children.
Based on the recommendations of Gurupadaswamy Committee, the
Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act was enacted in 1986. The Act
prohibits employment of children in certain specified hazardous occupations and
processes and regulates the working conditions in others. The list of hazardous
occupations and processes is progressively being expanded on the recommendation
of Child Labour Technical Advisory Committee constituted under the Act.
In consonance with the above approach, a National Policy on
Child Labour was formulated in 1987. The Policy seeks to adopt a gradual &
sequential approach with a focus on rehabilitation of children working in
hazardous occupations & processes in the first instance. The Action Plan
outlined in the Policy for tackling this problem is as follows:
Legislative Action Plan for strict enforcement of Child
Labour Act and other labour laws to ensure that children are not employed in
hazardous employments, and that the working conditions of children working
in non-hazardous areas are regulated in accordance with the provisions of
the Child Labour Act. It also entails further identification of additional
occupations and processes, which are detrimental to the health and safety of
Focusing of General Developmental Programmes for
Benefiting Child Labour - As poverty is the root cause of child labour, the
action plan emphasizes the need to cover these children and their families
also under various poverty alleviation and employment generation schemes of
Project Based Plan of Action envisages starting of
projects in areas of high concentration of child labour. Pursuant to this,
in 1988, the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme was launched in 9
districts of high child labour endemicity in the country. The Scheme
envisages running of special schools for child labour withdrawn from work.
In the special schools, these children are provided formal/non-formal
education along with vocational training, a stipend of Rs.150 per month,
supplementary nutrition and regular health check ups so as to prepare them
to join regular mainstream schools. Under the Scheme, funds are given to the
District Collectors for running special schools for child labour. Most of
these schools are run by the NGOs in the district.
Government has accordingly been taking proactive steps to
tackle this problem through strict enforcement of legislative provisions along
with simultaneous rehabilitative measures. State Governments, which are the
appropriate implementing authorities, have been conducting regular inspections
and raids to detect cases of violations. Since poverty is the root cause of this
problem, and enforcement alone cannot help solve it, Government has been laying
a lot of emphasis on the rehabilitation of these children and on improving the
economic conditions of their families.
Article 21 A
Right to Education
- 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.
- Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc.
- No child below the age fourteen years shall be employed in work in any
factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.
- The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing that
the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of
children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic
necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength.
The National Policy on Child Labour declared in August, 1987, contains the
action plan for tackling the problem of Child Labour. It envisages:
A legislative action plan: The Government has enacted the
Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 to prohibit the engagement
of children in certain employments and to regulate the conditions of work of
children in certain other employments.
Focusing and convergence of general development
programmes for benefiting children wherever possible, A Core Group on
convergence of various welfare schemes of the Government has been
constituted in the Ministry of Labour & Employment to ensure that, the
families of the Child Labour are given priority for their upliftment.
Project-based action plan of action for launching of
projects for the welfare of working children in areas of high concentration
of Child Labour.
Main features of the directions of Supreme Court in their Judgment as on
10th December 1996
On 10th December 1996 in Writ Petition (Civil) No.465/1986 on
MC Mehta verses state of Tamil Nadu the Supreme Court of India, gave certain
directions on the issue of elimination of child labour. The main features of
judgment are as under:
- Survey for identification of working children;
- Withdrawal of children working in hazardous industry and ensuring their
education in appropriate institutions;
- Contribution @ Rs.20,000/- per child to be paid by the offending
employers of children to a welfare fund to be established for this purpose;
- Employment to one adult member of the family of the child so withdrawn
from work and it that is not possible a contribution of Rs.5,000/- to the
welfare fund to be made by the State Government;
- Financial assistance to the families of the children so withdrawn to be
paid -out of the interest earnings on the corpus of Rs.20,000/25,000
deposited in the welfare fund as long as the child is actually sent to the
- Regulating hours of work for children working in non-hazardous
occupations so that their working hours do not exceed six hours per day and
education for at least two hours is ensured. The entire expenditure on
education is to be borne by the concerned employer.
- The implementation of the direction of the Hon’ble Supreme Court is
being monitored by the Ministry of Labour and compliance of the directions
have been reported in the form of Affidavits on 05.12.97, 21.12.1999,
04.12.2000, 04.07.2001 and 04-12-2003 to the Hon’ble Court on the basis of
the information received from the State/UT Governments.
The International Programme on the Elimination of Child
Labour is a global programme launched by the International Labour Organization
in December, 1991. India was the first country to join it in 1992 when it signed
a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ILO. The MOU that expired on 31.12.1996
has thereafter been extended from time to time and has recently been extended
till 31st December, 2006. The long-term objective of IPEC is to contribute to
the effective abolition of child labour. Its immediate objectives are:
- Enhancement of the capability of ILO constituents and NGOs to design,
implement and evaluate programmes for child labour;
- To identify interventions at community and national levels which could
serve as models for replication; and
- Creation of awareness and social mobilization for securing elimination
of child labour
Examine the issues related to the child labour and available provisions
for them .
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