"The child is the father of man." This famous line quoted by William Wordsworth refers to the importance of the child for the development of society as well as for the all-round development of the human race. Childhood is the time to garner the best physical, intellectual and emotional capacity to fulfill this duty towards the nation and to one's own self. However, this simple rule of nature has been crippled by the ever-growing menace of child labour. If one conceives the idea of child labour, it brings before the eyes the picture of exploitation of little, physically tender, illiterate and under-nourished children working in hazardous and unhealthy conditions.
About 250 million children between the age of five and fourteen work in developing countries. At least 120 million of these children work on a full-time basis. In India the conservative estimate is about 11.3 million (according to the 1991 censure), but the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated it at 23.2 million 1996. Both estimates include full-time and marginal child workers. Most working children in rural areas are found in agriculture; many work as domestic labourers; urban children work in the trade and services sector; while some other work in manufacturing and construction. Such children range from four-years-old doing petty jobs to seventeen0years olds helping out on the family farms. Denied education and a normal childhood, some children, confined and beaten, are often reduced to slavery. At times they are denied freedom of movement - the right to leave the workplace and visit their families. Some are abducted and forced to work. Instances of human rights abuses in such practices are clear and acute. [continues]
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