Sunil Kumar (10) works in a roadside dhaba in Hebbal, Bengaluru. His parents, who are construction labourers, never sent Sunil to a school. The young boy has been working in the dhaba for the last two years. He earns around Rs 5,000 a month. Like Sunil, there are 8.2 million child labourers under the age of 14 years across the country, according to India's 2011 Census report. The report was released recently.
"Out of 8.2 million child labourers, over two million are very young children between 5 and 9 years. Millions of children have no access to basic food, shelter, education, medical care or security," adds the report.
"Every morning over 8 million children in India go to work instead of going to school. Our economic progress loses a lot of meaning if hundreds of thousands of children have no hopes of a future," Anil told reporters, ahead of the International Day Against Child Labour. The day is commemorated across the globe on June 12.
The Bollywood star is the Goodwill Ambassador for child rights organisation, Plan India. He will campaign for the NGO's new initiative to raise awareness and inspire action to pull millions of children out of all forms of labour, said a statement.
Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director of Plan India, says, "As a part of our vision for 2020, Plan India is committed to improving the lives of 2 million children and youth, through direct programme interventions and by working in close collaboration with the Government and other partners to ensure that no child is left behind."
Sunil tells OneIndia that he wants to go to a school someday. "I want to become a teacher and teach poor children who can't afford to go to schools," Sunil adds.
In May last year, the Union Cabinet approved a proposal to ban employment of children under 14 years in all kinds of commercial enterprises. The original Child Labour Prohibition Act of 1986 banned employment of children below 14 in only 18 hazardous industries.
In spite of all these laws, child labourers are everywhere to be seen. Hardly any action is taken against those who employ or engage children as workers.