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Child Labour In India Children And Young People Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Young People
Wordcount: 5419 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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According to the Government of India, there are 2 million children working in hazardous industries. Hazardous occupations include brick manufacturing, stone quarrying, fireworks manufacturing, lock making and glassware production. An ILO (International Labour Organization) study on hazardous child labour in Bangladesh found that more than 40 types of economic activities carried out by children were hazardous to them. The survey also revealed that except for light work, child labour usually had harmful consequences on the mental and physical development of children. Also in countries like Pakistan, it was found that of the total population of child labourers, 7 percent suffered from illness/injuries frequently and 28 percent occasionally. The majority of children suffering from illness/injuries were found in agricultural activities. The situation in Sri Lanka seems to be less problematic since, according to a child activity survey, nearly 90 percent of the working children in the age group of 5-17 years have never experienced a health or safety hazard due to the activity in which they were engaged. In Nepal, identified hazardous sectors include construction, transportation and production, and especially the bidi and carpet industries.


Defines a child as under Section 2 (b) “Child” means a person who has not completed fourteen years of age .

The Act also defines “manufacturing process” as under

(k) “Manufacturing process,” means any process for, or incidental to, making, finishing or packing or otherwise treating any article or sub-stance with a view to its use, sale, transport, delivery or disposal as bidi or cigar or both;

The 2001 National Census of India estimated the total number of child labour; aged 5-14, to be at 12.6 million Child labour problem is not unique to India; worldwide, about 215 million children work, many full times.

In 2001, out of the 12.6 million, about 0.12 million children in India were in a hazardous job.  UNICEF estimates that India with its larger population has the highest number of labourers in the world less than 14 years of age, while sub-saharan African countries have the highest percentage of children who are deployed as child labour. International Labour Organization estimates that agriculture at 60 percent is the largest employer of child labour in India, while United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates 70 percent of child labour is deployed in agriculture and related activities.  Outside of agriculture, child labour is observed in almost all informal sectors of the Indian economy.

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Companies including Gap Primark, Monsanto[ and others have been criticised for child labour in their products. The companies claim they have strict policies against selling products made by underage kids, but there are many links in a supply chain making it difficult to police them all. In 2011, after three years of Primark’s effort, BBC acknowledged that its award-winning investigative journalism report of Indian child labour use by Primark was a fake. BBC apologized to Primark, to Indian suppliers and all its viewers. Article 24 of India’s constitution prohibits child labour. Additionally, various laws and the Indian Penal Code, such as the Juvenile Justice (care and protection) of Children Act-2000, and the Child Labour (Prohibition and Abolition) Act-1986 provide a basis in law to identify, prosecute and stop child labour in India.

Section 21 of the Constitution states that:

No juvenile/child shall carry any of the following prohibited articles, namely:-

(a) Bidi, cigarette and tobacco in any loose form or packing; including Gutka or Masala under any brand name;

(b) Alcohol and spirit of every description;

(c) Bhang, Ganja and opium and other narcotic drug or psychotropic substances;

(d) Fire-arms or other weapons, whether requiring licence or not.

(e) Any other article specified in this behalf by the Superintendent by general or special orders.

In Bidi factories of Block I & II of Bankura District of State of West Bengal the scenario is not at all different with many children working in bidi rolling activities who are unregistered so are devoid of any facilities prescribed by the Government.


Bidi rolling is done in almost all major states of India and it takes place mainly in the home based unorganized sector, with sub-contractors playing the main role for the principal bidi manufacturers. There are about 300 major manufacturers of branded bidis but there are thousands of small-scale manufacturers cum contractors who account for the bulk of the bidi production in India

Government estimates of the total number of bidi workers is about 4.5 million, majority of who are home based women workers. Trade unions claim that there could be about 7-8 million bidi workers in the country, especially if those engaged in bidi trade and the kendu leaf collection are also taken into account. Over the years, many efforts have been made to improve the working and living conditions of workers and their families involved in the bidi industry. Besides the general labour laws applicable (such as Minimum Wages Act and the Provident Funds Act), the Government of India has also enacted two major laws specifically for

the bidi sector workers – Bidi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966 – to regulate the

conditions of service of the bidi workers, and Bidi Workers Welfare Fund Act, 1976 – to provide for welfare schemes for the bidi workers and their families, relating to health, education, maternity benefits, group insurance, recreation, housing assistance etc. Under the fund, there are also special schemes to encourage education of children of bidi workers, especially for the girl child.

In April, 1992, a Group Insurance Scheme for the Bidi Workers was also introduced under the social security scheme of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India. This provides insurance cover of Rs. 5000/- in case of natural death and Rs. 25,000/- in case of accidental death to those bidi workers who have identity cards.

It is written in the Preamble

Recalling that, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations has proclaimed that childhood is entitled to special care and assistance, 

Rights (in particular in article 10) and in the statutes and relevant instruments of specialized agencies and international organizations concerned with the welfare of children, ‘ 

Bearing in mind that, as indicated in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, “the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth”, 

PART III of the Constitution states The Fundamnetal Rights which provides for the protection of children. it states under :

Right to Freedom which includes speech and expression, assembly, association or union or cooperatives, movement, residence, and right to practice any profession or occupation (some of these rights are subject to security of the State, friendly relations with foreign countries, public order, decency or morality), right to life and liberty, right to education, protection in respect to conviction in offences and protection against arrest and detention in certain cases.

Right against Exploitation, prohibiting all forms of forced labour, child labour and traffic in human beings;

Right to Education which ensures that children up to the age of 14 get education. It can also be free of cost.

Fundamental rights for Indians have also been aimed at overturning the inequalities of pre-independence social practices. Specifically, they have also been used to abolish untouchability and hence prohibit discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. They also forbid trafficking of human beings and forced labour. They also protect cultural and educational rights of ethnic and religious minorities by allowing them to preserve their languages and also establish and administer their own education institutions.

It is seen in the study surveyed held in Block I and Block II of the district Bankura, West Bengal, that children were deprived of their Fundamnetal Rights.

Objectives of the Study

1. To highlight the conditions of child labourers in Bidi factories of Block I & II of Bankura District.

2. To touch on the the Government policies related to child labours.

3. To estimate the facilities the child labourers are getting in the study area.

4.To suggest measures to improve the welfare of child labourers and to  establish a society without child labourers


1. Sampling Technique

             Multi stage random sampling method is followed.  There are 11 factories , scattered all over the blocks. 

2. Questionnaire Design The child labourers belong to lower class, and as they are uneducated,it is decided to use Interview Schedule  because the respondent is unable to read and understand the questions and answer the questions.  Therefore Interview Schedule is found to be suitable for the study.  The Interview Schedule is structured on the basis of various components, which cover the problems of child labourers.

 3. Sources of Data The sources of data were primary as well as secondary.  The data collected from the child labourers survey constitute Primary and the information gathered from books, journals, magazines, reports, dailies were secondary.  The data collected form both these sources were scrutinized, edited, and tabulated.

 4. Period of Study The present study covers a period of 2 years i.e., from 2009 to 2011.

Importance of the Study Child labour cannot be eliminated by focusing on one determinant, for example education, or by brute enforcement of child labour laws. The government of India must ensure that the needs of the poor are filled before attacking child labour.  If poverty is addressed, the need for child labour will automatically diminish.  No matter how hard it is, child labour always will exist until the need for it is removed.  The development of India as a nation is being hampered by child labour.  Children are growing up illiterate because they have been working and not attending school.  A cycle of poverty is formed and the need for child labour is reborn after every generation. India needs to address the situation by tackling the underlying causes of child labour through governmental policies and the enforcement of these policies.  This is a pilot project to focus on the burning issue of Child Labourers in Biri factories.

In Bankura district of West Bengal bidi workers are quite widespread. Bidi workers come from lower socio-economic strata. Traditionally lower Hindu castes and poor Muslim communities have been the source of labour in bidi industry. 93% are yearly workers who are either binding bidis inside a factory or getting the kendu leaves and utilizing his/her home space for bidi binding.7% of the binders are seasonal in nature , involved in this profession on a part time basis.87% of workers are directly attached to bidi factories like 522,Co-operative, Priya bidi etc.

Rest are either dealing with middle men who supply the binders with kendu leaves and collect the bidi packet after process completion in exchange of very nominal charges or collect the kendu leaves from the forests and selling the bidis in local market.

Among the surveyed population, irrespective of a seasonal or yearly engagement, 89% of them are home based workers and 11% are factory based workers.

The Bidi workers earn a living by binding bidis for long hours in a day. Their income varies between Rs 1 to Rs 80 per day depending on the hours of binding bidis . Around 66% earn below Rs 40 per day. 32% belong to the group who earn between Rs 40 to Rs 80 and 2% earn above Rs 80 per day. The dust of the kendu leaves with which the workers roll bidis are very bad for the condition of lungs of the workers.

Involvement of these children in this hazardous work is taking a toll on their health aspect. When Lung Function test was done on children bidi workers and Control children population a massive difference is found regarding their lung capacity. A very strong deterioration is visible in condition of lungs among children bidi workers. This point is very alarming.

The right to Health & Care: 58% of India’s children below the age of 2 years are not fully vaccinated. And 24% of these children do not receive any form of vaccination. Over 60% of children in India are anemic. 95 in every 1000 children born in India, do not see their fifth birthday. 70 in every 1000 children born in India, do not see their first birthday.

Recent UNICEF report on the state of the world’s children under the title “Childhood Under Threat” , speaking about India, states that millions of Indian children are equally deprived of their rights to survival, health, nutrition, education and safe drinking water. It is reported that 63 per cent of them go to bed hungry and 53 per cent suffer from chronic malnutrition.

The report says that 147 million children live in kuchcha houses, 77 million do not use drinking water from a tap, 85 million are not being immunized, 27 million are severely underweight and 33 million have never been to school. It estimates that 72 million children in India between five and 14 years do not have access to basic education. A girl child is the worst victim as she is often neglected and is discriminated against because of the preference for a boy child.

Article 24 of the Constitution states that:

States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services. 

2. States Parties shall pursue full implementation of this right and, in particular, shall take appropriate measures: 

(a) To diminish infant and child mortality; 

(b) To ensure the provision of necessary medical assistance and health care to all children with emphasis on the development of primary health care; 

(c) To combat disease and malnutrition, including within the framework of primary health care, through, inter alia, the application of readily available technology and through the provision of adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking-water, taking into consideration the dangers and risks of environmental pollution;

The children are not registered in the factories of the study area thus health care facilities are not provided to those children. The main bidi manufacturers do not formally (unregistered) employ children to roll bidis, the system of sub-contracting to home based workers and the logic of the piece rate system of payment (the more you produce, the more you will earn) leads to the involvement of children. The children, whether they go to school or not, end up helping out the family in rolling bidis (such as cutting the kendu leaves, tying the threads to the rolled bidis and folding the tips of the bidis). There are more girls than boys engaged in the bidi industry. There is however no reliable estimate of the number of children who are engaged in the bidi rolling activities.

The 1995 Survey by the Labour Bureau, Ministry of Labour estimated the incidence of child labour as 1% of the total bidi workers.

Legally, India’s child labour law does not cover children who help out as family labour and this loophole creates the scope for employment of children in many home based activities. The labour department officials have difficulties in taking any action against the employers/ contractors who claim that they have given work to only the adult members.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is an agency of the United Nations that deals with labour issues pertaining to international labour standards and decent work for all. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. The organization received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969. It has no power to impose any sanctions on governments.

“The ILO Convention No. 182 (article 3d) defines hazardous child labour as “work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety, or morals of children.”

The ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) was created in 1992 with the overall goal of the progressive elimination of child labour, which was to be achieved through strengthening the capacity of countries to deal with the problem and promoting a worldwide movement to combat child labour.

IPEC’s work to eliminate child labour is an important facet of the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda. Child labour not only prevents children from acquiring the skills and education they need for a better future, it also perpetuates poverty and affects national economies through losses in competitiveness, productivity and potential income. Withdrawing children from child labour, providing them with education and assisting their families with training and employment opportunities contribute directly to creating decent work for adults.

Article 28 of the Constitution states that :

States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular: 

(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all; 

(b) Encourage the development of different forms of secondary education, including general and vocational education, make them available and accessible to every child, and take appropriate measures such as the introduction of free education and offering financial assistance in case of need; 

(c) Make higher education accessible to all on the basis of capacity by every appropriate means; 

(d) Make educational and vocational information and guidance available and accessible to all children; 

(e) Take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of drop-out rates. 

The West Bengal Government has the probation for providing free education or providing scholarships to the children of adult bidi workers. So those children who are employed in a part time basis in bidi rolling have the option to go to schools. But because of the poverty striken conditions the parents prefer to make their children work and earn some extra penny rather than sending them to school.

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An article in newspaper (TNN Jul 23, 2012, 01.43PM IST) has focused on All India Trade Union Congress to back demands of bidi workers in Mangalore . It states that pixelpixel All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) has announced its intent to lay siege to office of deputy commissioner here on July 26 to press for resolution of various demands of bidi workers. These include delay in release of scholarship amount to children of bidi workers for past three years; and move to shift onus of distributing scholarship from office of commissioner for bidi workers welfare to department of education.HV Ananatha Subba Rao, general secretary of AITUC told reporters that the authorities concerned have reduced the number of beneficiaries eligible for scholarship from the academic years 2009-10 and 2010-11. Nearly 75% of children of bidi workers are not receiving the scholarship, he said, adding problem has aggravated ever since it was decided to credit the scholarship amount to joint account of student and parents.

pixelArticle 32 of the Constitution states the followings:

1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. 

2. States Parties shall take legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to ensure the implementation of the present article. To this end, and having regard to the relevant provisions of other international instruments, States Parties shall in particular: 

(a) Provide for a minimum age or minimum ages for admission to employment; 

(b) Provide for appropriate regulation of the hours and conditions of employment; 

(c) Provide for appropriate penalties or other sanctions to ensure the effective enforcement of the present article.

The children of the study area survive in unhealthy environment. The air that they breathe is full of dust of kendu leaves and is creating immense deterioration in their respiratory system. Measures are not being taken to rehabilitate them to a cleaner, better environment.

Under Indian law, bidi rolling is defined as hazardous work, but a loophole means children who help their parents in their work fall outside the legal framework.

“Formally, it is the women who take on the orders from the contractors,” says Anita Kumar of Plan India. “However, behind the scenes, the pressures these women face in terms of delivering on huge volumes, invariably children, mainly girls, get pulled into this to support their families in bidi rolling.”

As part of its global “Because I am a Girl” campaign, children’s rights organization Plan International has started a program focused on girl child labour in Andhra Pradesh, including girls involved in bidi making. The project will collectively impact 1,500 girls over 3 years. Children trapped in bidi work will need a rescue effort on a much larger scale.

From unhealthy living conditions to exploitative wages, slave-like working conditions and severe health consequences – the situation of bidi workers involves violation of their fundamental rights and freedoms on many levels. The majority of girls are pulled out of education by the time they complete primary school to support their families’ income.

The ban on the use of forced child labour is one among the labour standards. In India, Article 24 of the Constitution prohibits employment of children below 14 years in a factory, mine or any other hazardous employment. In pursuant to the said Article 24, various enactments like Mines Act, 1952; The Merchant Shipping Act 1958; The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1951; The Plantation Labour Act, 1951; The Bidi and Cigar Workers (Condition of Employment) Act, 1966 and the Apprentice Act, 1961 prohibiting employment of children below a certain age come into the Statute Book. The earlier enactments i.e., The Employment of Children Act, 1938 and the Children (Pledging of Labour) Act, 1933, The Factories Act, 1948 fall in the same category.

Article 39 states that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and children should not be abused and the citizens not be forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength. This Article also states that children be given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in freedom and dignity; that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation, and against moral and material abandonment.

Article 45 provides for free and compulsory education for children. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 provides the statutory backing against employment of children in factories, mines and hazardous employment, and regulates working conditions of children in other employment. This law, as also the Bidi and Cigar Workers (Condition of Employment) Act, 1966, prohibits child labour in bidi-making.

Suggested measures:

   The National Policy on Child Labour, August 1987 contains the action plan  for tackling the problem of child labour. It envisages:

A legislative action plan

Focussing and convergence of general development programmes for   benefiting children wherever   possible, and 

Project-based action plan of action for launching of projects for the welfare of working children in areas of high concentration of child labour. 

In pursuance of National Child Labour Policy, the NCLP Scheme was started in 1988 to rehabilitate child labour.  The Scheme seeks to adopt a sequential approach with focus on rehabilitation of children working in hazardous occupations & processes in the first instance.  Under the Scheme, after a survey of child labour engaged in hazardous occupations & processes has been conducted, children are to be withdrawn from these occupations & processes and then put into special schools in order to enable them to be mainstreamed into formal schooling system.     

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. 

Based on the recommendations of Gurupadaswamy Committee, the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act was enacted in 1986. The Act prohibits employment of children in certain specified hazardous occupations and processes and regulates the working conditions in others.  The list of hazardous occupations and processes is progressively being expanded on the recommendation of Child Labour Technical Advisory Committee constituted under the Act.

In consonance with the above approach, a National Policy on Child Labour was formulated in 1987. The Policy seeks to adopt a gradual & sequential approach with a focus on rehabilitation of children working in hazardous occupations & processes in the first instance. The Action Plan outlined in the Policy for tackling this problem is as follows: 

 Legislative Action Plan for strict enforcement of Child Labour Act and other labour laws to ensure that children are not employed in hazardous employments, and that the working conditions of children working in non-hazardous areas are regulated in accordance with the provisions of the Child Labour Act. It also entails further identification of additional occupations and processes, which are detrimental to the health and safety of the children. 

Focusing of General Developmental Programmes for Benefiting Child Labour –    As poverty is the root cause of child labour, the action plan emphasizes the need to cover these children and their families also under various poverty alleviation and employment generation schemes of the Government. 

 Project Based Plan of Action envisages starting of projects in areas of high concentration of child labour. Pursuant to this, in 1988, the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme was launched in 9 districts of high child labour endemicity in the country. The Scheme envisages running of special schools for child labour withdrawn from work. In the special schools, these children are provided formal/non-formal education along with vocational training, a stipend of Rs.100 per month, supplementary nutrition and regular health check ups so as to prepare them to join regular mainstream schools. Under the Scheme, funds are given to the District Collectors for running special schools for child labour. Most of these schools are run by the NGOs in the district.  Government has accordingly been taking proactive steps to tackle this problem through strict enforcement of legislative provisions along with simultaneous rehabilitative measures. State Governments, which are the appropriate implementing authorities, have been conducting regular inspections and raids to detect cases of violations. Since poverty is the root cause of this problem, and enforcement alone cannot help solve it, Government has been laying a lot of emphasis on the rehabilitation of these children and on improving the economic conditions of their families. 

A World Bank Report published in January 2000 has revealed that there are six crore working children in India-the largest in terms of any country in the world.    Elimination of child labour is no doubt a big challenge for facing the country today.  The former Union Labour Minister Dr. Satya Naayan Jatiya and present Union Labour Minister Mr. Praveen Ranjin Das Munsi says that the Government has adopted a progressive and integrated approach to eliminate child labour in the country. In order to resolve this socio-economic problem, a multi-dimensional action plan involving awareness generation among all sections of the society is required.  In creating a national awareness campaign for the elimination of child labour, the non-government organizations (NGOs) and the mass media have also to complement the governmental efforts. Save the Children is the world’s leading independent organization for children that works to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives. Their founder Eglantyne Jebb drafted the ‘Declaration of the Rights of the Child’ in 1922 which was adopted by the League of Nations in 1924.

Save the Children works to bring about a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation.

Our Approach:

Save the Children actively works with the communities, the State governments and the National government to bring lasting changes for the most marginalized children by:

Providing them with immunization and nutrition.

Ensuring that they have a chance to join formal school.

Exposing and preventing exploitative child labour practices and running prevention programs.

During emergencies, we provide emergency supplies as well ensure that children are protected in safe places as well continue schooling.


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.

The worst thing for bidi workers is the feeling that there is no protection, no welfare, no state support. They vote but have no power or effective representation. For all development indicators they remain at the bottom of the ladder all their lives.

And among them, the girls suffer the most. Throughout their life cycle their basic rights are violated; as children, as child brides, as young mothers, they continue to fight for survival with extreme labour and economic slavery. The worst thing for bidi workers is the feeling that there is no protection, no welfare, no state support. They vote but have no power or effective representation. For all development indicators they remain at the bottom of the ladder all their lives.

Commission for Protection of Child Rights. 

The Commission has the power to inquire into complaints and take suo motu notice of matters relating to deprivation of child’s rights and non-implementation of laws providing for protection and development of children among other things.

Aimed at e


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