CHILD LABOUR IN INDIA: CAUSES, MAGNITUDE AND POLICIES
DR. ANJALI PRASAD
Department of Economics
T.P.S. College, Patna
The existence of child labour is a slur on a modern welfare state which seeks to promote the all round development of its citizens. Children are the future hope of the society. They are like buds, which need to be properly nursed and well, taken care of so that they bloom fully, grow into able human beings, and contribute their worth to the future development of the society. On the contrary, instead of being sent to schools and properly educated, they are made to word, it amounts to squeezing the bud before it blooms. In not only thwarts the development of children but of the society as well, since only able citizens make an efficient society. Hence child labour has been regarded as a evil in India since time immemorial. In ancient India, it was the duty of the king of educate very boy and girl and parents could be punished for not sending their children to schools, called Ashrams, which were really residential schools under a Guru (a learned sage). Child labour existed only in the form of child slaves who were purchased to do some low and dishonorable’ work. Kautilya (4th century B.C.) considered it degrading to make children work on such jobs and hence prohibited the purchase and sale of children below 8 years. (Kautilya’s Arthasastra). A number of legislative measures have been taken in independent India to control the evil of child labour. Article 24 of the Indian Constitution clearly states that “no child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in other hazardous employment”. Article 39 (e) states that the tender age of children should not be abused and citizens should be not be forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength. Article 39 (f) states that children should be given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity. Article 45 states that the state shall endeavour to provide within a period of ten years from the commencement of the constitution free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years. (the Constitution of India, p.26). Despite these, however, India is presently having the highest number of child labour in the world. And, the evil appears to be rising, in stead of declining, over time. “Child labour is a multi-dimensional problem. Poverty," caste, tradition, size of the family, labour scarcity, wage rates, illiteracy, ignorance, schooling facilities, etc., are the major factors for the occurrence of child labour. Parents' view that more children mean more earnings and hence they force their children to work. Poverty and child labour go together and tend to reinforce each other in poor families. Some studies show that in poor families children release women from household work to work outside home for wage. This results in higher Child Work Participation (CWP) in household work. Traditionally, children of the upper caste families begin their lives in schools according to their own culture whereas children of the lower caste start their lives in work according to their family culture. In rural areas young boys assist their parents in agricultural as well as non-agricultural activities. The girl children have to provide help to their mother, along with agricultural activities, in looking after young siblings, sweeping house and cooking food,. etc., in order to release their mother for work. The girl child worker faces a lot of troubles compared to male child. Non-availability of school facility in village and unwillingness of the parents to send their children to neighboring villages to attend schools increase the number of child labour. Employees view the employment of children as advantageous on the ground of availability of cheap labour...