Children globally are routinely engaged in paid and unpaid work that may not be harmful to them. They are called child labourers when employed in hazardous activities that may compromise their physical, mental, social, or educational development. In the lesser developed countries, one in four children from the ages 5 to 17 is engaged in labour that is detrimental to their health and development.
Child labour has been a big problem in India as we look back and struggle to overcome it as a society.
Child labour is not an issue concerning only India, but many countries worldwide face it and try to overcome it. In India, the revised CLPR Act defines a child as a person below fourteen; it prohibits the employment of children below 14. According to the 2011 census, the total number of child labourers in India aged (5 to 14) was 10.1 million out of 259.64 million children in that age group. UNICEF estimates that India has the highest number of labourers in the world under the age of 14. As we all know, the pandemic brought up many challenges and heightened some pre-existing underlying issues. An article by The Print points out how Covid-19 made the child labour problem in India even bigger, making it all the more necessary to work on a solution and try to make it better for the present and future generations.
One of the significant causes of child labour is poverty, followed by the lack of a better alternative. Even after repeated efforts toward child education, many children in India today are working to help provide for their families instead of getting a proper education because of poverty and the inability to access education for various reasons, including inadequate public education infrastructure. These challenges lead to children and teenagers losing their childhood and development years to child labour. Many children end up working in hazardous places, and some get accustomed to overworking, which also leads to future physical and mental health problems.
The Indian government has formulated many acts and laws and created institutions and organizations to tackle the issue of child labour. Some of these initiatives include the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act, which prohibits the employment of children in dangerous working conditions. The Ministry of Labour and Employment focuses on providing and supervising a range of policies concerning child labour in India. Moreover, many NGOs and social activists are trying to combat the challenge of child labour.
Although many policies and laws exist to protect children from labour exploitation, we still witness it as one of the major problems in our country. Therefore, strict laws and practical implementation are necessary to achieve our goal. We as citizens can help by spreading awareness about this issue because acknowledging it is the first step towards overcoming a problem. We also must discourage the employment of children in households, shops, and factories, as the employment of children in these sectors is rampant. We should actively prevent it and stand up against it. We can also help by supporting and encouraging NGOs are working tirelessly towards eliminating child labour in India. We should never forget that if we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem—every step, irrespective of how big or small, matters. We might not be able to save everyone, but we can all together save someone. We can save someone's lost childhood and be the reason they can be free from ill practices like child labour. We can help preserve the childhood and their future. It's time to work together to overcome the challenges and child labour.