Let us see all that the country has done to eradicate child labour.
The Indian Constitution has defined the right to free and compulsory education to all children between 6 and 14 years on one hand and has prohibited employment of children in factories, mines and other hazardous employment, on the other.
The Law of the nation has the following provisions against child labour:
Occupations where child Labour is illegal
The Act prohibits employment of children in 13 occupations and 57 processes contained in Part A & B of the Schedule to the Act (Section 3). (In October, 2006, two other occupations were added to this list – domestic workers or servants and Dhabas (roadside eateries), restaurants, hotels, motels, tea shops, resorts, spas or other recreational centers)
Punishment under the law
Any person who employs any child in contravention of the provisions of section 3 of the Act is liable for punishment with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three months but which may extend to one year or with fine which shall not be less than Rs 10,000 but which may extend to Rs 20,000 or both.
Paradise for children
So ideally, every day of the academic year, every child ought to be in a classroom getting that basic education which is their right as per the Constitution of their beloved country! However, the truth is far from this idyllic paradise.
The sad truth
The law, however stringent, cannot be effective in banning child labour. This is because child labour is not a problem but the symptom of other issues that exist in our society. Some of these are:
– poverty which drives the parents to send their children to work,
– lack of education of the parents, which makes them ignorant of the importance of education or family planning, for that matter
– age old cultural desire to have a son which results in big families
– the caste system which seemingly has disappeared but exists very much in the minds of the ‘educated upper’ class.
Each of the above causes the parents to send their children to work to satisfy their basic needs.
What can help
The solution to put an end to the problem of child labour is many-fold:
One, the cause of the problem needs to be resolved with initiatives from Government as well as NGOs to educate and encourage the parents to send their children to school.
Two, the bigger responsibility is on the society to give more value – monetary as well as in terms of respect to manual work. This will help in substantially resolving the financial problems of families where children are forced to work.
Thus, declaring and implementing a law may be fine to some extent but for total eradication of child labour, a united effort is required by the Government as well as the citizens of the country.