Child Labour in India: Causes, Governmental Policies and the role of Education By Mitesh Badiwala
The issue of child labour is a developmental issue worth studying. The idea that children are being exploited and forced into labour concerns many people. India is a good example of a nation which suffers from the problem of child labour [Human Rights Watch (HRW) 1996, 1].
What are the causes of child labour in India? How do governmental policies affect it? What role does education play in regard to child labour in India? The answers to these questions may lead us to possible solutions.
This article discusses the problem of child labour, how common it is and the types, the role of poverty and government policies. Education policies and their relationship to child labour are described. In addition, solutions to some aspects of this problem will be offered.
The problem of child labour in India
How many children are involved?
It is difficult to monitor the current number of children engaged in child labour. This is because the Indian Government does not collect or analyze current data regarding child labour. Collecting information is difficult because people know child labour is against the law and they do not want to get into trouble (Devi 1985, 37). Many official figures continue to be based on information gathered in 1981 (HRW 1996, 122). UNICEF estimates that there may be “from seventy-five to ninety million child labourers under the age of fourteen” (HRW 1996, 122).
What are children doing in terms of work?
The 1981 Census of India (cited in Nangia 1987, 72) divided child labour into nine industrial divisions.
II. Agricultural Labour,
III. Livestock, Forestry, Fishing, Plantation,
IV. Mining and Quarrying,
V. Manufacturing, Processing, Servicing and Repairs, VI. Construction,
VII. Trade and Commerce
VIII. Transport, Storage and Communication, and
IX. Other Services
Table 1.1 shows the percentage distribution of child workers by these industrial divisions in 1981. Human rights organizations tend to focus on the manufacturing types of child labour because most children in these situations are bonded labourers. Bonded labourers work in conditions similar to slavery in order to pay off a loan, and for children this is usually a parent’s debt (HRW 1996, 2). Estimates place the number of bonded child labourers in India at close to one million [International Labour Organisation (ILO) 1992, 15].
Table 1.1 Percentage distribution of child workers (in India) by industrial divisions In 1981 (Census of India 1981 cited in Nangia 1987, 72).
|Type of |Industrial Divisions (refer to text for explanation of divisions) | |Worker | | | |I | | |Equal |Equal to Half |Half to One-third |One-third to |Less than One |Uncertain | | | | | |One-quarter |quarter | | |Percent | | | | | | | |according | | | | | | | |to |39.5 |19.1 |7.0 |3.7 |6.1 |24.7 | |employers | | | | | | | |response | |...
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