Childhood is the most innocent part of any person’s life. It is the phase where human beings learn basics from language to character. However, not every child is able to get a safe and protective environment to develop into a young adult. In India, like many other developing countries, the reality is really stark when it comes to child exploitation in terms of hazardous labor. They are coerced into working for long hours in dangerous conditions and for meager pay. According to constitution of India, child labor is prohibited. This means a child below 14 years cannot work in any kind of hazardous place. This has been used to legislate for Prohibition of Child Labor Act by the Indian parliament.
To understand the menace of child labor we have to look at the reasons behind its existence. The root cause of such practice is poverty which restricts families’ ability to care for the children. This in turn limits their access to education and skill training. This lack of education and training makes them unemployable in any formal profession. There the options are few and they are forced to opt for a life of misery and coercion.
A lot of the children are employed in agriculture and allied sectors or domestic household work. Here, they are pushed to their physical limits. To augment families’ income, some of them are forced to take up menial jobs in industries which are unsafe and full of harmful health effects. This often results in stunted growth in these children. For industrialists, there are just a means to cut labor expenses. The execution of the constitutional provision and statute has been far from acceptable. Most of the children are employed in the unorganized sector and subjected to horrendous work conditions. They are also more vulnerable to sexual abuse and physical and mental torture. Such inhuman conditions often cause irreparable damage physically and psychologically to the child and limit his/her ability to become a fully functional adult. In the long run it destroys the country’s potential for human capital and growth.
Having discussed the problems, it’s important to look for solutions. Education and poverty alleviation needs to be the foundation of any strategy to end child labor. Apart from these, social security programmes for poor and diseriviliged families is also important. Another important step is to create an all round awareness of the plight of such young children. Such awareness is pivotal if the law and its authorities are to be held accountable in their attempts to eradicate the scourge of child labor. It is paramount that the laws are constantly changed and modified to deal with the changing nature of this problem. A dynamic and robust policy is what can help aid the needs of young lives.
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