The Fight Against Child Labour in India

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To tackle the rising epidemic of child labour, the Sustainable Development Goal 8 has set a target of eliminating all child labour globally by 2025. Nevertheless, the epidemic remains dire in India, where 11 percent of the workforce is underage, which is especially alarming as many cases of child labour go unreported and undetected.

Indian labour laws are governed by the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act of 2016, which defines a child as anyone who has not completed 14 years of age and mandates that they must not be employed in any capacity. Yet, the 2011 census indicates that India has 10.1 million children who are employed as labourers, while an additional 42.7 million children are unschooled.

In India the Right to Education Actthat was passed in 2009 to ensure that all children in India must have access to education has not fully addressed the issue as child labour continues to be seen in many regions. This is largely due to widespread poverty in the country, as several low-income households, struggling to make ends meet, make their children join the workforce early rather than sending them to school.

However, many parties are working diligently to tackle the issue. India has set up the National Child Labour Project (NCLP), which helps children who are working to shift to Special Training Centres where they are given bridge education, vocational training and meals and then eventually moved into a formal education system. 

Additionally, human rights lawyer Amar Lal, who was once a child labourer himself, won three legal cases against employers of child labour in 2021 and made sure that the culprits were sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment. A recent report also indicates that child labour has almost been eradicated on cotton farms in the state of Telangana. 

Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi has launched Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), which translates into a ‘movement to save childhood’, and has done much work by ensuring many children are saved from being slaves or working as labourers. His team recently rescued 41 workersfrom a toy factory in Delhi.

While these are steps in the right direction, it is important to remember that this is just the tip of the iceberg since many cases are unreported. How India tackles this issue and walks the talk when it comes to ensuring child labour is stopped is what remains to be seen.

Source: Fair Planet