Child Labour is just one of the millions of atrocities faced by millions of children on a daily basis. Children, as considered in most civilisations and as accepted worldwide are a gift from god. Knowing and believing so, why do we make these small, innocent and harmless creatures subject to inhuman treatment? The profit maximisation motive of many capitalists has induced them to hire children below the age of 14 as workers in their factories. Economically it is a smart decision as the costs (given as wages) reduce tremendously but socially, it is not only pure evil but also inhumane. Here, it is essential to know that it is not only the industrialists who promote this social evil but also a very large chunk of India’s population, which is below the poverty line. Any child who is employed in activities to feed self and family is being subjected to “child labour’. If we observe closely, only parents of the lower segment of population send their children to work at early ages. These parents consider their children as helping hands in work, without realizing the importance of education in their life. They are not aware that poverty and illiteracy form a vicious and never-ending circle and that child labour is a hazard to their child’s mental, physical, social, educational and emotional development. The malicious capitalists take advantage of such irrational decisions by the helpless parents and employ their vulnerable children either as factory workers or as domestic help. Also, children who are born out of wedlock, orphaned or abandoned are chiefly exposed to exploitation. They are forced to work for survival when there are no adults and relatives to support them.
Children, who are a country’s future, should be engaged in academic and recreational activities instead of toiling for hours in unsafe and hazardous environment. Their bare little hands which are made to hold pencils & pens should not be damaged by overuse of injurious chemicals used in carpet making factories, glass blowing units and firework making factories, where they are mostly employed.
According to the statistics given by Indian government there are 20 million child labourers in the country, while other agencies claim that it is 50 million. The government has issued many policies and passed many laws, which take into account hiring of children below the age of 14 as a punishable offense. In addition, many primary and secondary level schools are opened for the children of the poor and needy. Free education, stationary & uniforms and schemes like the “mid-day meal” are initiated to encourage parents of the lower sections of the society to send their children to school without any reservation. Yet we see that the enrolment rate, especially at primary levels is very low. Although this trend is witnessed all over India, it’s occurrence in some regions is a very noticeable. Areas of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa get a special mention in this regard.
Of the many actions that need to be taken to eliminate this social menace, projects related with human resource development and child welfare issues must be given top priority by the central and state governments. In addition, child labour laws should be strictly implemented at the central and state levels and the working age limit for an individual should be raised to allow consistent and full physical and mental growth for every individual.