ravenshaw university, cuttack
In passing the 86th Amendment to the Constitution of India, education is a fundamental right. This has implications for fulfillment of the obligation of the State to ensure that every child is in school. Since most children who do not attend schools are engaged in some form of work or another, it is essential that there is a comprehensive plan to withdraw children from work and mainstream them into schools. In other words the labour department has a crucial role to abolish child labour in all its forms and ensure that children enjoy their right to education. This is indeed a challenging task, but can be attained with concerted effort and a clear perspective.
1. MAGNITUDE OF THE PROBLEM
1.1 Children in the Population
As per 2001 Population Census,
Percentage of children in total
children in the age group of 0-14
constituted about 360 million and
accounted for 35.3 percent of total
Age group 1991
population. Children in the 5-14 age
group constituted about 251 million
and accounted for 24.6 percent of the
population. Though there is an
5 to 14
increase in the absolute number of
children, the proportion of children in
Note: 1991 Population Census figures excluded
the total population is declining
J & K State and for comparative purposes we
between 1991 and 2001. By Census of
have excluded figures for J & K for 2001
India projections, the proportion of
Source: Population Census 1991 and 2001
children (0 to 14) has further come
* Population Porjections, Based on 2001Census of
down to 32.1 percent during 2006.
Elementary school age children (5 to 14) in the total population constituted 241.7 million accounting for 21.7 percent of the total population. This is because of drastic reduction in the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in many of the major states, especially in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat. On the other hand TFR remains high in some of the major states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Thus the segment of child population varies across state depending on the TFR. Proportion of children in the population has implications for the incidence of child labour.
1.2 Child Labour in India
India continues to host the largest number of child labourers in the world today. According to the Census 2001, there were 12.7 million economically active children in the age-group of 5-14 years. The number was 11. 3 million during 1991 (Population Census) thus showing an increase in the number of child labourers. Workers in general
are classified into main and marginal workers1 by the population census. Census data shows that there is a decline in the absolute number as well the percentage of children (5-14) to total population in that age group, classified as main workers from 4.3 percent in 1991 to 2.3 percent in 2001. But there was a substantial increase in marginal workers in every category of worker irrespective of sex and residence. As a result, despite the number of main workers declining from 9.08 million in 1991 to 5.78 million in 2001, the total number of children in the work force increased. A large part of the increase was accounted for by the increase in marginal workers, which increased from 2.2 million in 1991 to 6.89 million in 2001. Main and Marginal workers put together, the work participation rate (WPR) of children in the 5-14 age group has declined from 5.4 percent during 1991 to 5 percent in 2001. The trends between 1991 and 2001 of declining main child workers along with increasing marginal workers may indicate the changing nature of work done by children. This is also to be seen in the context of decelerating employment growth in general in the economy during the last decade. Changes in Work Participation (Main and Marginal) Rate of...