PENCIL PORTAL : Civil Services Mentor Magazine: NOVEMBER - 2017


"India is the largest child labour force market in the world. The problem of child labour is its roots of colossal proportions. The notion that children are being exploited and forced into labour, while not receiving education crucial to development, concerns many people. India is the largest example plagued by the problem of child labour".

Current figures of the number of children engaged in child labour in India are not available. This difficulty is attributed to the fact that the Indian Government "has been negligent in its refusal to collect and analyze current and relevant data regarding the brutal incidence of child labour. As of 1996, official figures continue to be based on 1981 census figures". The 1981 Indian census reports that there were 13.6 million child labourers in India Indian government extrapolations of 1981 data place the current number of child labourers at between seventeen and twenty million (Human Rights Watch 1996). This extrapolation seems highly unlikely as "The Official National Sample Survey of 1983 reports 17.4 million child labourers, while a study sponsored by the Labour Ministry, concluded that the child-labour force was 44 million". UNICEF "cites figures ranging from seventy-five to ninety million child labourers under the age of fourteen". A universal difficulty in obtaining accurate data maybe that individuals fail to report child labour participation during surveys for fear of persecution.

The figure for the number of child labourers varies a lot, they are all significantly high when considering that the Child Economic Activity rate for 1980-1991 was 13.5% for males and 10.3% for females. In comparison, other developing countries such as Sri Lanka and Malaysia, have lower activity rates: 5.2% for males and 4.7% for females in Sri Lanka, and 8.9% for males and 6.6% for females in Malaysia. Historical census data shows an overall child work participation rate of 12.69% in 1961 and 7.13% in 1971 . This data is misleading because the definitions of child labour are different in the two censuses , thus a comparison cannot be completely valid The data shows that in a span of twenty years (1961-1981), the proportion of children has not changed significantly.

Child labour support the source of income of the poor. A study conducted by the ILO Bureau of Statistics found that "Children's work was considered essential in maintaining the economic level of households, either in the form of work for wages, of help in house hold enter prises or of house hold chores in order to free adult household members for economic activity elsewhere". In some cases, the study found that a child's income accounted for between 34 and 37 percent of the total household income. This study concludes that a child labourer's income is important to the livelihood of a poor family. The fact that child labourers are being exploited for the same type of work, studies show they are paid less than their adult counterparts. Although 39.5% of employers said that child workers earn wages equal to adults, if the percentage of employers admitting that wages are lower for children are added up, a figure of 35.9% is found. The percentage of the population of India living in poverty is quite high. Poverty has an obvious relationship with child labour, and studies have revealed a positive correlation as such. Poor families need money to survive, and children are a source of additional income.

National Child Labour Project Scheme (NCLPS) started in 1988 to rehabilitate child labour. Under the Scheme, a survey is conducted to identify target group ( child worker and adolescent working in hazardous occupations and processes in a district or a specified area); then children in the age group of 9-14 years are withdrawn from work, and put into NCLP Special Training Centres where they are provided bridge education,
vocational training, mid-day meal, stipend, health care and recreation etc. with the ultimate objective of preparing them to be mainstreamed into the formal system of education. Adolescents are withdrawn from hazardous occupations / processes to have benefited from skills training wherever required and are linked to legally permissible occupations.

The NCLP Scheme seeks:

A. To eliminate all forms of child labour through

i. Identification and withdrawal of all children in the Project Area from child labour,
ii. Preparing children withdrawn from work for mainstream education alongwith vocational training;
iii. Ensuringconvergence of servicesprovidedby different government departments/ agencies for the benefit of child and their family;

B. To contribute to the withdrawal of all adolescent workers from Hazardous Occupations / Processes and their skilling and integration in appropriate occupations through

i. Identificationandwithdrawal of all adolescentw o r k e r s from hazardous occupations / processes,
ii. Facilitating vocational training opportunities for such adolescents through existing scheme of skill developments1;

C. Raising awareness amongst stakeholders and target communities, and orientation of NCLP and other functionaries on the issues of 'child labour' and 'employment of adolescent workers in hazardous occupations/ processes'; and

D. Creation of a Child Labour Monitoring, Tracking and Reporting System.

The scheme focuses on:

i. All child workers below the age of 14 years in the identified target area.
ii. Adolescent workers below the age of 18 years in the target area engaged in hazardous occupations / processes2
iii. Families of Child workers in the identified target area The overall approach of the project is to create an enabling environment in the target area, where children are motivated and empowered through various measures to enroll in schools and refrain from working, and households are provided with alternatives to improve their income levels.

NCLPS will be implemented in close coordination with State, District administration and Civil society. Elimination of Child Labour is joint responsibility of the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the State Governments. Other stakeholders such as District Administrations, local communities, civil society groups, NGO?s, academicians and enforcement agencies have an important role to play. The scheme seeks to not only set up the implementation structure but also institutionalize monitoring and supervision for effective functioning of the scheme.

NCLPS is a central sector scheme where 100% of the funding is provided by the Government of India through the Ministry of Labour and Employment. Funds under the existing NCLP scheme are released by the Central Government directly to the registered NCLP District Project Society under the chairpersonship of the administrative head of the district namely District Magistrate/District Collector (DM/DC)/Deputy Commissioner of the district who is under administrative control of the State Govt.

The legislative changes have been accompanied by creation of additional institutional mechanisms at the district, state and national level for identification and rescue, along with revamping the rehabilitation scheme and a centralized database for case to case monitoring and accountability. The Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) is aimed Pencil Portal at creating a ready reckoner for trainers, practitioners and monitoring agencies to ensure complete prohibition of child labour and protection of adolescents from hazardous labour ultimately leading to Child Labour Free India.

The genesis of the portal is in the felt need to create a robust implementing and monitoring mechanism for both enforcement of the legislative provisions and effective implementation of the NCLP especially in the backdrop
that the subject of Labour is in the concurrent list and enforcement to a large extent depends of respective State Governments. It was felt that an online portal which connects Central Government to State Government, District and to all Project Societies would provide a mechanism for implementation. In this backdrop the online portal PENCIL was conceptualized.
PENCIL Portal has following components:

a. Child Tracking System
b. Complaint Corner
c. State Government
d. National Child Labour Project
e. Convergence

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