#WorldDayAgainstChildLabour: No ‘Acche Din’ for poor children
Thus the hashtag #WorldDayAgainstChildLabour was trending on Twitter on Sunday. The irony of the entire problem is that most of the child workers, who are denied their basic rights like education, are hardly aware that a day has been dedicated to them.
That is the sad reality of the problem. Everyone talks against child labour, but nobody takes action against it. In many cases, several educated and well-to-do families themselves engage minors as their domestic helps.
It seems that the popular election slogan "Acche Din" (good days) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not apply for the poor children, who are forced to work.
"Poverty is the root cause of child labour. If the practice of engaging children as workers continues, the cycle of poverty would continue in the country," says Nagasimha G Rao, child rights activist.
"The need of the hour is to provide free education to all poor and needy children from across the country. Anyone who engages a child as a labour should be punished severely, as the law suggests," Rao adds.
According to the Census 2011, 11.8% of the total workforce is between 5 and 19 years of age.The Census survey, released recently, says 1.3 crore workers in the country are in the age group of 5-14 years.
Around 3.2 crore workers are in the age group of 15-19 years. However, experts working in the field of rescue and rehabilitation of children working in various sectors say the figure of child labour is huge.
Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi puts the total figure at about six crores.
Activists say employers prefer children as workers as they come cheap. "Most of the children are engaged in hazardous industries. They are paid pennies. Most of the children are paid Rs 10 per day. They are not paid minimum wages. These poor kids have no social security. They often drop out of schools and end up working full time," says Rao.
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.