Child Labor in India

Child labor refers to the exploitation of the children by employing them to work and interfering with their ability to attend regular schools, and any work that is harmful for them mentally, socially, physically or morally. It has been a major issue all around the world, especially in the developing countries, and it destroys the future of the child employed in child labor. In Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986, a child has been defined as a person who has not completed the age of 14 years. For a layman, the definition of child labor is the practice of engaging the children in economic activity as a part-time or a full time job.

Child labor has existed throughout the history. During the 19th and the early 20thcenturies children between the ages of 5-14 from poor families worked in western nations and their colonies. The children worked mainly for factories, mines, home-based operations, or agriculture. In the early 20th century, thousands of young boys were employed in glass making industries, factories and mines. The conditions of working were extremely difficult as there was extreme heat, or no advanced technologies. The children suffered eye troubles, lung problems, cuts, heat exhaustion, etc. 


  1. POVERTY – it is one of the main causes of child labor in India. It is one of the major drawbacks and the children are considered to be helping hands for the family in terms of financial support.
  2. DEBTS – due to the poor economic conditions of people, they are forced to borrow money from moneylenders who charge them high rate of interests, because of which they find it difficult to repay the debt due to which the money lenders employ the debtors, including their children, to work for them.
  3. PROFESSIONAL NEEDS – there are some industries that require delicate hands and little fingers to do the minute work, such as in bangle making factories. Bangle making industry is known for employing children.

                                    RIGHTS OF CHILDREN IN INDIA

In India, the government has taken various effective measures to eliminate child labor. The Indian constitution has incorporated provisions to secure the rights of children, such as compulsory elementary education as well as the labor protection for children. Some other provisions are:

  1. No child below the age of 14 shall be employed in any factory or mines or engaged in any other form of hazardous work.
  2. States in particular shall direct its policy towards securing the health of the workers, men and women and the tender age f children are not abused and that the citizens are not forced by economic necessity to for their children to work.
  3. The state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of 6-14 as such a manner as the state may determine by law. 


Even though strict laws and policies are being formed for the protection of children against child labor, the reality stands totally opposite. The laws formed are hard to enforce, especially in the rural areas where it is most prevalent and the villages are barely connected to state infrastructure. For many families in India, giving up child labor means letting go of an entire income which could push them deeper into poverty. For most of the factory owners, using child labor is the only way to produce local products at a cheap rate and be able to make them compete in the international market. The states have the responsibility to enforce laws for the protection of children, however due to the lack of funds and proper administration; they are unable to do so. Also the judicial system of India, is not competent enough to stop the violators of child labor easily. Many a times the violators can very easily slip through the cracks because of the lack of proper administration, and even though they are found guilty, the fine for the same is not enough for a practical deterrent. 

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