Challenges of Child Labor

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Child labour was present even before the dawn of recorded history. With the heralding of the new millennium, and the challenges that have appeared globally, the problem of child labour stands among the most acute ones.  Millions of children in the world have been forced into child labour owing either to non-schooling or to school dropouts at the initial stage.  Child labour may be defined as one who has not yet attained the age of 14 years and whose physical, mental and social development has suffered due to his pre-mature employment. The complex issue of child labour is a developmental issue worth investigating.  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 of a nation plagued by the problem of child labour.  Estimates cite figures of between 60 and 115 million working children in India – the highest number in the world (Human Rights Watch 1996, 1). In the densely-populated poor and developing countries, the problem of child labour is acute.  India is no exception.  A World Bank Report published in January 2000 has revealed that there are six crores working children in India-the largest in terms of any country in the world.    There are more children under the age of fourteen in India than the entire population of the United States.  The great challenge of India, as a developing country, is to provide nutrition, education and health care to these children. Children under fourteen constitute around 3.6% of the total labour force in India.  Of these children, nine out of every ten work in their own rural family settings.  Nearly 85% are engaged in traditional agricultural activities.  Less than 9% work in manufacturing, services and repairs.   Only about 0.8% works in factories.Work ranges from taking care of animals and planting and harvesting food, to many kinds of small manufacturing (e.g. of bricks and...
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