The true character of a society is revealed in how it treats its children.
– Nelson Mandela
There lived a family of four members lived near an industrial town in Uttar Pradesh. The couple had two sons, one aged eight years old called Amit and another aged sixteen called Anand. The family owned a small piece of agricultural land outside the village and the entire family was self-employed in the farming business. Anand had dropped-out of school after finishing his class eighth exams and was off working in a small factory manufacturing leather goods. He was not listed under the employees roll because of his age. He also used to earn less than his co-workers for the same amount of work carried by both. His earnings added to the contribution of survival of his family. Amit was enrolled in a government school but was not regular in school. As the harvesting and sowing seasoned came by he remained out of school. He helped his family by looking after the cattle and doing odd jobs in the farms. After reaching the age of ten Amit was also dropped out of school and was made to look after the farm.
These children never got to enjoy their childhood like any other normal child. They were burdened with responsibilities in an age where they should be out there playing and making friends. Amit and Anand are the poster-boys of the cruel and vicious system called “child labour”. They are been employed at work with little remuneration and consideration. This is the perfect case of exploitation of free and easily available labour. It is also often seen that families with the basic survival needs often push their children into child labour without acknowledging their educational and human rights. Childhood is a precious stage in the life of any individual. It is the age of exploration and lays the building blocks for character and behavioral development. In this beautiful age, it must be ensured that children get the best of educational and other developmental opportunities. But this is not always the case, as many children fall prey to child labor, malnourishment, poverty and crime. In this blog, the focus is retained to the issue of child labor.
It is a practise so entrenched in the Indian scenario that there are no proper laws in place to abolish it. Yet, the legal framework offers some protectionist and regulatory framework against child labour. Below mentioned is the list of legal frameworks.
- Article 24 of the Indian Constitution clearly states that no child below the age of 14 years be employed to work in any factory or any hazardous industry which would be detrimental to his health and right to education.
- The Factories Act of 1948: The Act prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in any factory. The law also placed rules on who, when and how long can pre-adults aged 15–18 years be employed in any factory.
- The Mines Act of 1952: The Act prohibits the employment of children below 18 years of age in a mine. Mining being one of the most dangerous occupations, which in the past has led to many major accidents taking life of children is completely banned for them.
- The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986: The Act prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in hazardous occupations identified in a list by the law. The list was expanded in 2006, and again in 2008.
- The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2000: This law made it a crime, punishable with a prison term, for anyone to procure or employ a child in any hazardous employment or in bondage. This act provides punishment to those who act in contravention to the previous acts by employing children to work.
- TheRight of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009: The law mandates free and compulsory education to all children aged 6 to 14 years. This legislation also mandated that 25 percent of seats in every private school must be allocated for children from disadvantaged groups and physically challenged children.
रूह हमारी कांप उठी, देखके वो नम आँखे।
जानबूझकर रचीगई थी, क़यामत की वो रातें।।
इतना ज़ुलम ढ़हाया गया, उन नन्ही जानों पे।
भूल गए वो हँसना, “Charlie” के अफसानों पे।।
–Vishwas Agarwal and Kalpesh Bhagat