The Indian economys growth rate has almost doubled from around 5% in 1980-90 to 2006-07. The contribution of agriculture to GDP has been declining as is evident from the following statistics: 1951-59%, in 2001,it was 24% and by 2006-07,it has come down to 22%. The proportion of population, depending on agriculture in several countries is as follows: 1.India-60%,UK-2%,USA-2%,and in Japan, it is 3%.
Thus in India the percentage of population depending on agriculture is very high and hence due to lack of educational infrastructure in many rural areas and due to very high population growth rates the proportion of child labor is Also high in India.
Where do these children work? The Indian scenario:
Over half of the working children (54%) are in agriculture, and most others are employed either in construction (15.5%) or in household work (18%). About 5% are in manufacturing jobs, and the remainder (about 8%) are scattered across other forms of employment.
The information above provides a gender-wise breakup of working children, and their schooling status. The data is for children in the age group 5-14 years only.
A concern of child labour exists from poverty. We have to understand as why children go to work. If parents dont send their children to work, factories will not be able to consume them. Why poor parents feel children as their assets who will earn money for their home?
The problem of child labour continues to pose a challenge before the nation. Government has been taking various pro-active measures to tackle this problem. However, considering the magnitude and extent of the problem and that it is essentially a socio-economic problem inextricably linked to poverty and illiteracy, it requires concerted efforts from all sections of
the society to make a dent in the problem.
Way back in 1979, Government formed the first committee called Gurupadswamy Committee to study the issue of child labour and to suggest measures to tackle it. The Committee examined the problem in detail and made some far-reaching recommendations. It observed that as long as poverty continued, it would be difficult to totally eliminate child labour and hence, any attempt to abolish it through legal recourse would not be a practical proposition.
The Committee felt that in the circumstances, the only alternative left was to ban child labour in hazardous areas and to regulate and ameliorate the conditions of work in other areas. It recommended that a multiple policy approach was required in dealing with the problems of working children. Nearly 50 per cent of the child labour in the country is in to employment due to poverty and debt burden of their families, says a social audit on child labour.
Problems such as alcoholism, domestic violence, financial bankruptcy, sudden deaths or crippling of parents and desertions were the reasons for children to quit education and take up work, the audit by World Vision India said.
The exercise found that 1,210 children were slogging as laborers in the eight audited zones. Among them, 762 were in the hazardous sector under the Child Labour (Prevention and Regulation) Act, 1986.
More disturbingly, 16 Labour Inspectors, in whose jurisdiction most of the child laborers were found, had not filed cases against employers.