Concern over child labour

Kaustov Kashyap
Contd from previous issue
The law also doesn’t exclude activities such as field work, where children are exposed to pesticides and other harmful chemicals, and have to put laborious hours.
To ensure the strict enforcement of these laws, the Indian Government is developing additional laws that would increase the punishment of the employer who appoints children under the age of 14 years as labour, the penalty amount of which would be collected as fine. The period of imprisonment is also likely to change.
What initiatives has the Govt taken to eradicate Child Labour ?
The Indian Govt formed the Gurupadswamy Committee in 1979 for research on child labour and ways to tackle it. On the recommendation of this Committee, the Child Labour Prohibition and Regu- lation Act was enacted in 1986.
In 1987, a National Policy on Child Labor was formulated, especially to focus on rehabilitation of children working in hazardous occupations. Since 1988, the Ministry of Labour And Employment has implemented around 100 industry-specific National Child Labour Projects to rescue and rehabilitate child workers.
A plethora of laws, Acts, institutions and organizations have been formed by the Indian Government to combat the prominence of child labour from India. Several NGOs including Child Fund, Care India, Bachpan Bachao Andolon, Child Rights and You, Talaash Association and Global March against Child Labour have been working to eradicate child labour in India.
What else can be done to eradicate Child Labour in India?
Several steps have already been taken and the Govt is taking many more steps to reduce child labour in India. UNICEF is also working with the Central and State Govts to eradicate child labour from the world. But a lot more needs to be done.
Laws against child labour need to be strengthened more and strictly enforced. It is very important to first combat poverty as this is the root cause of child labour.
Equal access to education is also crucial to break the cycle of child labour. As children learn more and more, they are more likely to get employed in decent jobs in when they grow up. Although the Govt is providing free and compulsory education to children under the age of 14, widespread poverty and lack of opportunities to earn money for adults often force families to send their children to work. As a result, children are forced to discontinue their education and drop out of school.  Child labour in our country has become a social norm that we all accept and tolerate. This abusive practice will continue unless society adopts a zero-tolerance attitude towards it.