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Government Accountability: Child Labour

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Young People
Wordcount: 5480 words Published: 15th May 2017

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In this topic I have focussed on the Child labour problem in worst form in India, in India though Child Rights recognised and even many legislations passed to deal with the children rights but the children rights are continuously in one or other form violated. The topic try to expose abuse of children rights of those children who are working in hazardous work places like mines, firework industries and other informal (registered or unregistered small mines and quarries) and other sectors. In this topic I tried focus on the worst situation that children facing in the above sectors that the magnitude of the problem and conditions of the children are disclosed. The topic further discussed the role of the Government and Non Governmental Organisations eradicating this social disorder.

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India continuously facing the child labour problem, in India child labour is a socio, economic and political problem. As a developing nation India facing this problem and it is hampering the growth of the nation in many ways. India’s one of the main goals is to put end to child labour. There is a huge exploitation in the marginalised groups in other terms poor among poor is more or less vulnerable sections. And if we talk about child they are more vulnerable, childhood of these exploited sections are wiped, these tender buds are muscled to take burden of unwanted. Childs are many ways are exploiting like child trafficking, child prostitution, and child labour and child slavery. India is the example for the child labour curse. Since independence, India has dedicated itself to be against child labour. Article 24 of the Indian constitution clearly states, “No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or employed in any hazardous employment” [1] . Article 39(e) directs State policy such “that the health and strength of the workers… and the tender age of children are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength” [2] . These two Articles illustrates that India has constantly had goals of taking concern of its children and ensuring the protection of workers. In regard to child labour the Indian government enacted the Child Labour Act in 1986. The purpose of this act is to “prohibit the employment of children who have not completed their 14th year in specified hazardous occupations and processes” [3] .

Children life is miserable under fourteen who has to earn for their families and they have to work with great pain for little amount. Poverty and illiteracy are main causes in these segregated sections causing exploitation. Families who are below poverty line do not have think about the any other issue of the society rather to how the day will go on every day. The governments have taken measures but they are lacking in implementation, there is a huge resentment in the civil society the application levels are very low in developing countries and they always try to escape in one or other ways give their accountability to international Agencies. India as signatory of international covenants trying to strengthen to its local and national laws to eradicate the problem. India is signatory to ILO forced labour convention, ILO abolition of forced labour convention and UN convention of the right of the child. As per the International labour organisation report 12.6 million [4] children are working in different sectors in India as per the census data on the child labour. NGOs and other social activist working remarkably to bring awareness in the society. Many activities holding awareness programmes in the society trying pull out the society from the plague of child labour. Judiciary also taking very stringent stand over the child labour issues. International covenant on convention on rights of the child recognises that children should be having special care and assistance to grow. Not only is that committee on the rights of the child the body of experts who monitors the implementation of convention by the state parties. The child must be spruced well in the decisive years of his life. He must receive education, acquire knowledge of man and materials and blossom in such an atmosphere that on reaching age, he is found to be a man with a mission, a man who matters so for as the society is concerned.

The child rights violated in the form of child slavery or bonded labour, child trafficking, child prostitution and pornography, child soldiers, domestic child servants, hazardous child labour. As the topic mainly dealing with child labour, the children are exploiting as labour in mainly following categories field of work cultivation; agricultural labour; livestock, forestry, fishing, plantation; mining and quarrying; manufacturing, processing, servicing and repairs; construction; trade and commerce; transport, storage, and communication; and other services. Not only the above categories children used as labour, children are used to manufacturing explosives like making matches, crackers, gem polishing, paper bag making, manufacturing sport goods, handicrafts, carpet weaving, gas stations, silk cultivation, glass and brass manufacturing, leather tanning etc, these are the examples of worst form of child labouring these all are some examples that we can understand that in many forms child can be abused and his rights are violated in everyday life. The topic mainly enlightening on child labour who works in mining and quarrying and Agriculture sectors in hazardous and other informal industries.

Historical background of child labour laws in India:

Before discussing further lets summarise the child labour laws and change in the course of developing nation. Any child under the age specified by law worldwide works full time, mentally or physically to earn for own survival or adding to family income, that interrupts child’s social development and education is called “child labour”. After set up of the International Labour Organisation, in 1919 under the League of Nations there is clear consciousness to set up international guidelines by which the employment of children under a certain age could be regulated in industrial undertakings. And suggested a minimum age of 12 be to work. British India adopted the same Sir Thomas Holland had introduced in the legislative assembly. Though there were many furores by the members, it is the starting of the recognition of child care at work. We can say that the International Labour Organisation is playing a vital role in eradicating the child labour from industrial exploitation. “A Royal Commission on Labour came to be established in 1929 to inquire into various matters relating to labour in this country. The report came to be finalised in 1931. It brought to light many inequities and shocking conditions under which children worked. The Commission had examined to conditions of child labour in different industries and had found that children had been obliged to work any number of hours per day as required by their masters. It was also found that they were subject to corporal punishment. The Commission had felt great concern at the placing of children by parents to employers in return for small sums of money; and as this system was found to be indefensible it recommended that any bond placing a child should be regarded as void. The recommendations of the Commission came to be discussed in the Legislative Assembly and the “Children (Pleading of Labour) Act, 1933″ came to be passed, which may be said to be the first statutory enactment dealing with child labour. Many statutes came to be passed thereafter. As on today, the following legislative enactments are in force prohibiting through various provisions of employment of child labours in different occupations”.

“Factories Act, 1948” prohibit that no child under the age 14 allowed to work in factories. “Plantation of Labour Act, 1951” prohibits children under the age 12 in the field of plantation. “Merchant shipping Act, 1951” disallows who under age fifteen to carried or engaged to sea to work in any ship though there are some exemptions for who carrying family business and home trade with some restrictions. “Mines Act, 1952” in this act prohibits any child to take part in any mining operations; there is total ban on child to take work in the mines in below the grounds or in open cast work. “Motor Transport workers Act, 1961” bars no child be allowed to take any work in motor transport undertakings. “Apprentice Act, 1961” prescribes the qualification to become apprentice that person shall not qualify unless he crosses the age fourteen. “Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966” prohibits of employment in the concerned industries. “Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. (Act 61 of 1986)”. These regulations clearly show that legislatives have firmly considered necessary prohibition on Child labour. Though strong legislations in India there are many loopholes and ineffective administration authorities who splitting the wound continuously. Children rights are open to abuse in social, economic and political background of the society.

Worst form of child labour some Illustrations:

In many industries have been in the process of exploitation like match and firework industries, glass and bangle industries, stone quarrying industries etc., There are no registration industries who dealing with these kind of work in such places high hazardous situations where children were to take work quarries cutting stones brushing them loading and unloading not even shelters to take rest in all the seasons they have to work for more than 6 to 8 hours daily for meagre amount. Many diseases they have to face like bronchitis, lung and respiratory problems. The children are, as bonded labours have to work for little money or for sake of their family earnings.

Child labour mostly exploited by informal industries like small mining and quarrying industries, here the large range of work activities and practices take place, like excavating, cutting, panning, processing, breaking, blending, carrying, transporting and marketing. Here one illustration is important to give that how the child workers are working and how they are in miserable conditions. That is in Sivakasi, Tamilnadu state, India it is known as home of Match and firework industries. The region is mostly located with these industries. There are around more than 450 match and firework manufacturers are located. But the exact number of child workers in this industry is difficult to work, but as per the official report Office of the Registrar General, District Profile 1991- Tamil Nadu (1991) more than thirty thousand child between ages six to fourteen in these manufacturing units [5] . But some other sources and social activists opine the number is much more than the statistics report. Children had had to work in dangerous and hazardous units many Non Governmental Organisations, media, and labour unions continuously drawing attention of the same to government and Merchant association. But their efforts put in to vain in many ways due to negligible administrative authorities, under the power politics of Merchants association. Due to fire accidents in these industries damage is very horrible; in reported news in one accident 23 children were born alive. There are many shivering and terrified incidents took place in these mining industries. Human right activist and Advocate Sri M.C. Mehta filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court of India vide W.P.465/1986 [6] the Supreme court said that this is the example of worst offender who violating the prohibition of employing child in hazardous industries. Court constituted a committee for analyse and recommendations after considering the recommendations of the committee court directed that employment of children in match and firework factories is shall not be permitted. Children who are working in hazardous employment is violated the spirit of the constitution. The Supreme Court directed that the children employed in the match factories for packing purposes must work in separate premises for packing. Employers should not be permitted to take work from the children for more than six hours a day. The employers and State Govt. should provide proper transport facilities for travelling of the children from their homes to their work places and back. Facilities for recreation, socialisation and education should be provided either in the factory or close to the factory. Employers should make arrangements for providing basic diets for the children and in case they fail to do so, the Government may be directed to provide for basic diet – one meal a day programme of the State of Tamilnadu for school children may be extended to the child worker. A National Commission for children’s welfare should be set up to prepare a scheme for child labour abolition in a phased manner. Such a Commission should be to this Hon’ble Court directly and should report to this Hon’ble Court at periodical intervals about the progress.

The court decision quite surprising one many other issues that not dealt in this case when there is clear prohibition court try to segregate work in to two different sectors like packaging and processing and working child allowed to packaging section difficult to understand the court view. The most difficult side of these decisions is that they did not afford relief for children employed outside of the enumerated hazardous industries

But it show that how the miserable situations the child worker face reflects. The root cause is very simple but very strong one extreme poor condition of the families of those children, more than 75 percentage families eking their livelihood in those groups of society. These people exposed to extreme hazardous conditions no adequate measurements will take place even the prescribed laws are there. Violations are common, health conditions of the children are neglected every minute and day. Though there are many issues have to deal this is the first step towards protection of the child labour rights.

This is only one situation where brought in to light where in many other industries like mines, quarrying, glass and bangle etc like many informal industries means non registered industries, are exploiting the childhood of the nation which is intolerable.

In quarrying industries child labour situation is unjustifiable and inhuman small children between age 6 to 14 who are working where there is no monitoring and census record shows of their exploitation but it is true that they are openly curbing the child rights every day. Child labour in the quarrying industries works for more than 10 hours a day they are used to cut the stones in different sizes, load and unload the stones. Children are illegally forced to mining works, the mining contractors engage them in digging, breaking stones, filtering, load and unload, dumping, transporting, and processing activities. In iron ore mining child labour used to make a basin of iron ore child has to hammer and fill one basin of ore hardly he earns three pence in a day a child makes 5 to t basin of iron ore earning below 50 pence a day. Every iron basin the child filled up tells the story the magnitude of the problem that they are facing. In these industries very less or no safety equipments and no prescribed pay system even. In the working areas are always open to susceptible to accidents, injuries, and chronic mining leads to severe health problems. Children who engaged in granite industries faces the similar problem they used for collecting kerosene from mine tailing and in the washer pits from their bare hands handling toxic waste. In other hand the contractors, mine owners, traders and all other merchandisers escaping from the accountability easily though they are blatantly violating the child labour laws. The shift to privatisation and open market economy after India’s new economic policies has led to pushing women and children into the informal labour force, especially in sectors like mining where deregulation of laws for attracting foreign direct investment and private investments have led to mechanisation and retrenchment of workers and have diluted the legal protections towards labourers and marginalized sections. This calls for urgent investigation of all the mines in the country. Hospet-Bellary mining industry in Karnataka is the example of such conditions 3 big mines ranging over 83 hectors, and 6 big mines in bellary regions and 37 other mines spread over the region. These mines excavate iron ore, manganese, gold, quartz, granite and decorative stones. Fact finding team who reported about the child labour violations is shocking shameful to the nation. In these mines Activity takes place with drawing out the ore, breaking the raw ore rocks into small stones and shingles and into fine powder. The mining area has vast extraction site stretching in acres. These areas consist of extraction sites, stone crushing units, stockyards, dump yards, weighing and permit yards, motor vehicle yards, and wagon laoding points across the railway line. These mines in Bellary district are on the hills stretching almost 180 km. The labour that works are migrant workers and mostly form Scheduled cast (Dalits) and tribes these poor labour were engaged by middle persons to work in the mines. In these mines to work the whole family of the poor labour migrates and whole family except old live at work place and work in the mines. In the work area again child labour divided girl labour work with women in breaking the ore into stones. When a heap of lumps is gathered girl children take them to process sieving the lump into iron ore powder. If a boy labour then he goes with men digging and loading and unloading work. And the wages depends on the child labour capability. In these mining areas labour are mostly woman and children more than half of the labour these sections only works. This situation is not only the iron ore mines, in the District Bellary and Hose pet and its surrounding areas children are engaged in granite mines. In these mines kerosene is used to cut the granite and children are used to constrict and strain kerosene tanks and children have to spend hours together dipped their waist in the kerosene tanks. How bizarre to hear and hazardous but this is the daily routine life for them who working in the granite mines in Hosepet, Bellary, Karnataka. From the surround villages of these mines children brought to work, some go to school and some don’t, some children who are the sole earners for their families who used to work in the mines. Children are usually got in to expose to accidents and health problems apart from that the children are at high risk to trafficking and sexual harassment. Usually the mines are open cast form and children labour have to work open without any shelter whatever the weather may be, they do not use any safety equipments, even no drinking water facilities available all the labour have to walk a stretch of 2 to 5 kms. No toilets are provided woman and young children has to do their natural calls openly in humiliation conditions. Conditions in the mines are so pathetic, even after the work to wash or bath there is no water facility, and more over labour have to eat with their dirty hands, though the open site dust falls in their vessels. The mine sites are with full of mosquitoes and insects where the children and woman stay and live. Due contaminated and polluted atmosphere children and people who working in the mines usually get sick, while due to meagre amount of wages labour reluctant to go for medication, due to this mining labour developing chronic illness like tuberculosis, siliceous, cancer, respiratory problems and other disorders they are effecting from. These labour work as casual labours and as a curse they cannot use public health services, and they have to go private doctors treatment, and there wages go for medicines and only for temporary relief. These are the merciful conditions of the child labour in the mines industries, traders, owners of these mines very rarely respond on any severe issues raised on. Children rights are apparently abusing by these industries with no accountability and irresponsible authorities helpless with inadequate infrastructure. Many social activists and NGOs like HAQ [7] (means right in Urdu) ( centre for child rights), Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the child movement) [8] organisations, M.V. Foundation a voluntary organisation, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, reacted and have taken some initiations to bring out the truth of the child labour conditions in these mines, and submitted report to Karnataka government, acting upon the report Government of Karnataka appointed high level of committee for recommendations. My main concern about the child labour and abuse of their rights, though there are many Acts and regulations land Apex court directions regarding the Child labour, like Mines Act, 1952 prohibits totally children to take any form of work who are below fourteen years. Who are to be blamed for the cycle of exploitation of women and child labour the society, the government, implementation body, parents, judiciary, traders, media we have to move forward in the civilisation society, we have to take collective responsibility, and try to correct every part of the section of society and with the cooperation with each of the institution we have to up lift the children rights. It’s now nation’s duty to eradicate child labour abuses in all forms the above are only the worst form of abuse the child labour rights. In many other organised and unorganised, formal and informal, registered and unregistered industries these rights of children are violated every day.

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Agriculture sector is where child rights abused extensively, Agriculture is the main source in Indian economy, and in this field child labour is in the form of boned labour. Bonded labour in the farm sector arise when people who do not have any source of land to cultivate or those tenant farmers or small farmers takes loan from the landlords or other sources in return they offer their labour else their children as bonded labour until paid off. Who are considered to be in training to become adult bonded labourers, graze cattle and assist bonded adults. This system is widespread throughout the central India and south India. Bonded children are sometimes subjected to physical punishment and suffer from a high incidence of severe malnutrition, vitamin deficiency, anaemia, tuberculosis, and skin and parasitic diseases. They have no time for either leisure or education – over 90 percent of bonded labourers in India, many of whom became bonded as children, have never had the opportunity to go to school.

Children working in Zari (embroidery work on dresses) Industries in Delhi, Delhi as National capital it are destination and transit point for the traffickers. Children from the different places from other States trafficked here for exploitation, they are converted as sex workers or labour in domestic works and zari industries. Fashion and export make Delhi an important business hub. Due to demand of the work contractors engage children as cheap labour to get more marginal benefit. Traffickers lure poor families promising for good earning to send children. Nearby villages people send their children for work attracting by agents. Children are forced to work long hours as up to 20 hours a stretch despite the consequences of their age and ability and of course with total ignoring of their physical and mental requirements. If they refuse to work they were beaten up badly. While working in the embroidery children every so often cut their fingers very badly. They have to work in confined rooms, and at last children paid only 30 rupees a week (around 40 pence). And some children are trafficked to brick kilns where they have to work with adults making bricks. The families who effected with trafficking are mostly Muslim minorities. Social activists and child right defenders many times rescued these children but many times these children are re-trafficked.

Developing countries always struggle with inadequate economic growth; child labour is one of the results due to inadequate economic growth. In one sense economic development, poverty and child labour are interlinked with each other. As a developing country child labour problem haunting India but this problem is not much is to eradicate in concern with economic growth policies. India must do more to combat child labour, primarily if the causes of child labour include caste discrimination, little or no educational opportunities for

Young people and misconceptions about children’s work. Children working in the “hidden sectors”, particularly those in domestic work and prostitution, have become vulnerable to sexual abuse. This makes them more susceptible to unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS [9] .

Active participation Cooperation of NGOs like Bachpan Bachao Andolan (save the child), Haq centre for the right of the child, international programme of elimination of child labour(IPEC), Global march against child labour, UNICEF India, M.V. Foundation, social activists, human right activists are remarkably working towards eradication of child labour problem. Many organisations working on child rights, they are focussed mainly in the tribal and urban informal child labours, and marginalised labour. Educating not only children their families, mobilising them to understand and bring awareness on their rights, exploitation. Social organisations try to bring fact findings of like situations in light and where enforcement authorities fail to do so, even after many fact finding reports submitted to concern administrative authorities if fail to take actions, bringing the inaction of those authorities filing public interest litigation in Supreme Court of India.

Government role:

India as large democratic country and as member of United Nation Committed to eradicate all social evils which violates Human Rights. And as party to International covenants and one of the main member of International Labour Organisation, as developing country India has many millennium Goals. Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is an international monitoring body monitors implementation of the convention on the rights of the child by state parties. Under this convention every state party has to submit their periodical report to the committee. 53rd session of the committee of right of the child will be help in Geneva January 2010. India as a developing nation and high birth rates and population child labour problem is identified as Socio, Economic and political problem and it is linked with poverty and illiteracy inextricably. Gurupadaswamy Committee [10] is the first committee on child labour problem constituted in way back 1974, the committee have suggested many recommendations to the government. The committee rightly opined that as long as the poverty and illiteracy continues in the society it is very hard to eradicate the child labour problem. On base of the recommendations of the committee “The child labour (prohibition and regulation) Act, 1986” was enacted. The Act prohibits employment of children in certain specified hazardous occupations and processes and regulates the working conditions in others. To deal with the child labour problem Government of India has taken “National Child Labour Projects” [11] these projects are the main rehabilitation schemes for the child labour. The main concept of the project is to open at district level rehabilitation centres and schools through National project societies for the child labour. In these centres make available to children with vocational training, providing supplementary nutrition and non formal education, providing health care through trained doctors. Children are withdrawn from work and mainstreamed to schools. With the help of international programme of elimination of child labour programme an organisation of international labour organisation the main objectives of the programme to mobilising the society and bringing the awareness in the society in the process of elimination of child labour. “The Ministry of Labour, Government of India and US, Deptt. Of Labour have developed a project under ILO-IPEC for Prevention & Elimination of Child Labour in identified Hazardous Sectors” [12] . The main objectives of these projects is to identify the children who are working in hazardous employment, it also insists a detailed survey to be conducted to identify these children. The second aim is those identified children from the age group 8-14 working in hazardous employment withdrawing them from the such employment and providing them rehabilitation facilities and education. These projects not only encourage children to withdraw from employment, these projects recognise the family of the dependent children and assure to provide viable income sources. These projects also insist social education and awareness programmes. In the tribal areas Government of India started Girijana Vikas Kendras and Vidya Vikas Kendras these institutions educate and mobilise them to eradicate child labour. The right of children to Free and compulsory education Act, 2009, is enacted by the parliament of India amending the constitution of India, inserting Article 21-A, providing free and compulsory education for the children off age group 6 to 14 as Fundamental Right. Not only that it provides specific reservation in private schools 25% seats for poor families, without any hassle.


Thus child labour is still a burning problem in India and we must be ready and, more importantly, willing to combat this evil which is spreading its wings larger day by day. However, the government is trying but without the concern of the people, this problem cannot be eradicated. The recently conducted surveys are decisive that laws enforcements leaves lot to be desired. On the other hand if a child or his/her parents are unaware of the rights they are privileged with, it makes the task harder. If the family is poor and illiteracy resides in the houses, it becomes a very difficult matter, if not impossible, to eradicate this problem solely by the government itself. Therefore, if the society and the government work together hand in hand, it would be an able effort to regulate and eradicate this problem from our country and make it a better country of our dream. The Latin Maxim “boni judicis est ampliare juridictionem”(meaning law must keep pace with the society to retain its relevance, for if the society moves but law remains static, it shall be had for both. ) must be followed practically. “Children are our assets.” The common people should consider this quote and the


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