Child Labor in India-Introduction
Being a resident of India, we all have experienced some form of Child labor around us, in multiple forms like full-time, part-time or bonded labor; and as responsible citizens it becomes our duty to be informed about such social devils and help the children in need.
The 2011 census revealed that India has 4.98 million children involved in child labour, which is one of the highest figures of the world.. This is a scar deep rooted in the Indian society and needs to be addressed at the earliest. Child labour involves children under the age of 18 participating in economic activities on a part-time or full-time basis. Children resolve to these activities in an attempt to add a certain amount of income and financially support to their families.
CAUSES OF CHILD LABOUR
Poverty has and will always remain one of the primary reasons behind child labour. In a developing economy like ours, the poor people always consider the children of the family as an extra source of income. And thus, they are often forced to work in order to financially support their family.
Lack of education:
It is a depressing reality that a majority of the poor children in our country are incapable of understanding the importance and power of a sound education. This is due to the lack of emphasis laid on education at a poor household, and moreover due to the fact that their parents are not financially competent enough to afford an education for them. This lack of education causes families to give prior importance to short-term child earnings, in place of the long-term benefits of education.
The Indian legal system has addressed and defined a total of 64 Industries as hazardous and therefore, it is a criminal offence for any employee to employ children in these hazardous industries. Notably, Constitution of India prohibits child labour in hazardous industries (but not in non-hazardous industries) as a Fundamental Right under Article 24.
LEGAL ACTS OVER THE YEARS
The Factories Act of 1948: This act states all such activities as illegal and against the law which involve children below the age of 14 years being employed in any factory.
The Mines Act of 1952: In light of the fact that mines are considered amongst the most unsafe environment to work in, this act prohibits the employment of children below 18 years of age in a mine.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2000: According to this act, an employee who employs a child below the age of 18 years in a hazardous environment or under bondage, is considered a criminal, and whom so ever indulges in such activities, would be trialed and punished with a prison term.
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009: The law necessities and mandates free and compulsory education for all children aged 6-14 years. This act also mandates a total of 25 percent of seats in each private school to be reserved and allocated to children belonging to disadvantaged groups and to physically challenged children.
The part III of The Child Labour Act of 1986 declares regulations of conditions of work of Children as follows:
HOURS AND PERIOD OF WORK
(1) No child shall be required or permitted to work in any establishment in excess of such number of hours as may be prescribed for such establishment or class of establishments.
(2) The period of work on each day shall be so fixed that no period shall exceed three hours and that no child shall work for more than three hours before he has had an interval for rest for at least one hour.
(3) The period of work of a child shall be so arranged that inclusive of his interval for rest, under sub-section (2), it shall not be spread over more than six hours, including the time spent in waiting for work on any day.
(4) No child shall be permitted or required to work between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m.
(5) No child shall be required or permitted to work overtime.
(6) No child shall be required or permitted to work in any establishment on any day on which he has already been working in another establishment.
Every child employed in an establishment shall be allowed in each week, a holiday of one whole day, which day shall be specified by the occupier in a notice permanently exhibited in a conspicuous place in the establishment and the day so specified shall not be altered by the occupier more than once in three months.
DISPUTES AS TO AGE
If any question arises between an Inspector and an occupier as to the age of any child who is employed or is permitted to work by him in an establishment, the question shall, in the absence of a certificate as to the age of such child granted by the prescribed medical authority, be referred by the Inspector for decision to the prescribed medical authority.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
(1) The appropriate Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules for the health and safety of the children employed or permitted to work in any establishment or class of establishments.
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions, the said rules may provide for all or any of the following matters, namely:
(a) cleanliness in the place of work and its freedom from nuisance
(b) disposal of wastes and effluents
(c) ventilation and temperature
(d) dust and fume
(e) artificial humidification
(g) drinking water
(h) latrine and urinals
(j) fencing of machinery
(k) work at or near machinery in motion
(l) employment of children on dangerous machines
(m) instructions, training and supervision in relation to employment of children on dangerous machines
(n) device for cutting off power
(o) self-acting machines
(p) easing of new machinery
(q) floor, stairs and means of access
(r) pits, sumps, openings in floors, etc.
(s) excessive weights
(t) protection of eyes
(u) explosive or inflammable dust, gas, etc.
(v) precautions in case of fire
(w) maintenance of buildings
(x) safety of buildings and machinery.