Every child deserves to have a childhood that is fun and educational, but all over the world a huge number of children are deprived of even the most basic of rights. On World Day Against Child Labour 2020, which is marked on June 12 every year, we take a look at where India stands on the matter of child labour. Also Read - World Day Against Child Labour 2020: How You Can Protect Children From Child Labour
It is considered child labour when children in the ages of 5 to 14 are made to do work that hampers their physical and mental development. The reason being that it not only deprives them of their childhood but their future too, as without proper education and skills training, they lose out on the opportunity to find decent work as adults. Also Read - World Day Against Child Labour 2020: 10 Quotes That Perfectly Describe Children
In India, the law on child labour does include punishment if underage children are employed, however, it does not completely disallow their employment. Data from a 2011 Census shows that the total child population in India in the age group 5 to 14 years is 259.6 million, and that 10.1 million or 3.9 per cent of the total child population are working. Also Read - World Day Against Child Labour 2020: History And Significance of Today For Children
Some states have a higher number of underage children working in organised sectors like factories and manufacturing, and in unorganised sectors such as agriculture, construction, mining and domestic work. There is also a good number of children who are being trafficked and put into bonded labour across the nation.
The law in India divides child labour into two categories, one is children below the age of 14, and the other is adolescents, children who fall in the age group 14 to 18. And according to the age group they fall in, they are allowed to do the work that has been identified by law as suitable for them.
Children under the age of 14 are allowed to work in a family business or as a child artist in movies, TV shows, etc., but not in circuses or on the streets. But even in this case, a child below the age of 14 and adolescents can work only after school hours and during vacations.
The law strongly prohibits children in the age group of 14 to 18 from working in a particular list of non-industrial and industrial processes that can pose a danger to them. They are prohibited from working in places like mines, or where inflammable substances like explosives and fireworks are used.
The law states that anybody employing a child below 14 years of age will be jailed for 6 months or two years and be made to pay a fine between Rs 20,000 and Rs 50,000, and the same applies for children between the ages 14 to 18. Even parents will be punished if they are found to be forcing their children to work without letting them go to school. The parents would be issued a warning for the first time, but if it continues then they will face punishment with a fine of up to Rs 10,000.
But even with the law in place, child labour is still very much prevalent in India, and lack of awareness of the law or implementation by authorities are contributing towards it.