PROBLEM OF CHILD LABOUR
Child labour and its problems are intimately related to the extreme poverty. They belong to the families of total have-nots who do not have any other means to raise their income except the human asset to invest in a bid to supplement it These children as such contribute to the pool of income of the family to fulfill their needs. This is the story of child labour in all the poor developing and underdeveloped countries of Africa and Asia including India. Even after Fifty-five years of independence the country has not been able to afford any relief to the poor. The economic policies of India have never been oriented to fulfill the aspirations of the people and provide them with the basic needs to survive. That’s why child labour and its problems are very much neglected in the country at the national level. There are many angles to look over these problems including human rights considerations and development of human resources etc An international pressure has also been mounting to prohibit child labour in the industry.
As a matter of fact, the plight of child labour has been extremely miserable due to sheer exploitation by the vested interests in domestic industrial and agricultural sectors. In a UNICEF report it is revealed that about one million children corning from all over the world have been subjected to sexual abuse for commercial purpose. In the world conference on abuse of children, held in Stockholm, it has been pointed out that it is very difficult to work out any data pertaining to child-abuse under the existing circumstances.
In India, the children kept as bonded labour, are exported to overseas on pretext of employment on handsome salaries and other lavish facilities, which later prove to be fake and total fraud. An organized gang, meanwhile, has been exposed involved in exporting teenaged children for beggary. The children were brought back to India and the investigations by higher investigating agencies were ordered to trace the gangsters involved.
Haryana however has taken some bold steps to protect the child labour from abuse and inhuman conditions. For this purpose, the children are provided employment in some selected industries.
According to an authentic report of a UN body, thousands of children have been employed in Italy in a leather industry. While in Portugal, young girls are employed in domestic services and clothing industry. In Britain, 43 per cent of the children below 15 are working in miserable conditions and more than 30 per cent are employed illegally. In USA, 28 per cent o the children are working in inhuman conditions.
In India, the child labour has been in employment in all the industries whether hazardous or non-hazardous. The existing ‘Employment of Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986″ provides for prohibition of child labour in hazardous industries and hazardous positions, and regulates their employment in the non-hazardous industries. The state governments are empowered to determine the hazardous and non-hazardous industries. But the actual position is that all the state governments have not been able to do so as yet. The child labour act is applicable up to 14 years of age. There are so many industries where the age of the child labour has been shown higher than the actual one on the basis of statements of their guardians or the fake affidavits. It is simply because the parents/guardians do not want elimination of their wards from their employment because of their poverty, limited income and ever increasing cost of living.
According to a survey of child labour undertaken on orders of the Supreme Court of India, the total number of such labour in India is 5,00,000 as on record. Out of it, Orissa is on top employing 2.15 lakhs children in industries.
It may be noted in this connection that the pressure is being mounted at the international level for elimination of child labour from the industry by imposing curbs on Indian goods. Indian Government holds the view that it cannot be eliminated overnight but in a phased manner. For this purpose a new act is being brought up repealing the Act of 1986. For the implementation of this Act it is necessary to amend the constitution also to make it a fundamental right of the child in the age group of 6-14 years to get need-based education.
The Government has recently warned the international organizations and the western countries that in no way the child labour problem be connected with the trade or any other such issues as it is not desirable to compromise over the matter and is considered a challenge to India’s sovereignty.