Child labour is the practice of having children engage in economic activity, on part or full-time basis. The practice deprives children of their childhood, and is harmful to their physical and mental development. Poverty, lack of good schools and growth of informal economy are considered as the important causes of child labour in India. The 2001 national census of India estimated the total number of child labour, aged 5–14, to be at 12.6 million. The child labour problem is not unique to India; worldwide, about 217 million children work, many full-time. In 2001, out of a 12.6 million, about 12 million children in India were in a hazardous job.UNICEF estimates that India with its larger population, has the highest number of labourers in the world under 14 years of age, while sub-saharan African countries have the highest percentage of children who are deployed as child labour. International Labour Organisation estimates that agriculture at 60 percent is the largest employer of child labour in India, while United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates 70 % of child labour is deployed in agriculture and related activities. Outside of agriculture, child labour is observed in almost all informal sectors of the Indian economy. Companies including Gap, Primark, Monsanto and others have been criticised for child labour in their products. The companies claim they have strict policies against selling products made by underage kids, but there are many links in a supply chain making it difficult to police them all. In 2011, after three years of Primark's effort, BBC acknowledged that its award-winning investigative journalism report of Indian child labour use by Primark was a fake. BBC apologized to Primark, to Indian suppliers and all its viewers. Article 24 of India's constitution prohibits child labour. Additionally, various laws and the Indian Penal Code, such as the Juvenile Justice (care and protection) of Children Act-2000, and the Child Labour (Prohibition and Abolition) Act-1986 provide a basis in law to identify, prosecute and stop child labour in India.
After its independence from colonial rule, India has passed a number of constitutional protections and laws on child labour. The Constitution of India in the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy prohibits child labour below the age of 14 years in any factory or mine or castle or engaged in any other hazardous employment (Article 24). The constitution also envisioned that India shall, by 1960, provide infrastructure and resources for free and compulsory education to all children of the age six to 14 years. (Article 21-A and Article 45). India has a federal form of government, and child labour is a matter on which both the central government and country governments can legislate, and have. The major national legislative developments include the following: The Factories Act of 1948: The Act prohibts the employment of children below the age of 14 years in any factory. The law also placed rules on who, when and how long can pre-adults aged 15–18 years be employed in any factory. The Mines Act of 1952: The Act prohibits the employment of children below 18 years of age in a mine. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986: The Act prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in hazardous occupations identified in a list by the law. The list was expanded in 2006, and again in 2008. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2000: This law made it a crime, punishable with a prison term, for anyone to procure or employ a child in any hazardous employment or in bondage. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009: The law mandates free and compulsory education to all children aged 6 to 14 years. This legislation also mandated that 25 percent of seats in every private school must be...
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