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CHILD LABOUR

Child labour refers to the employment of children at regular and sustained labour. This practice is considered exploitative by many international organizations and is illegal in many countries. It was utilized to varying extents through most of history, but entered public dispute with the advent of universal schooling, with changes in working conditions during the industrial revolution, and with the emergence of the concepts of workers' and children's rights.

In many developed countries, it is considered inappropriate or exploitative if a child below a certain age works (excluding household chores or school-related work).

* An employer is usually not permitted to hire a child below a certain minimum age.

* This minimum age depends on the country and the type of work involved.

* States ratifying the Minimum Age Convention adopted by the International Labour Organization in 1973, have adopted minimum ages varying from 14 to 16.

* Child labour laws in the United States set the minimum age to work in an establishment without restrictions and without parents' consent at age 16.

The most innocent phase in human life is the childhood. It is that stage of life when the human foundations are laid for a successful adult life. It is the phase when we are carefree, fun-loving, learning, playing... Go back into your childhood and for most of us, there are beautiful memories and how wonderful to have grown up with such carefree abandonment while we had parents, grandparents and others looking after us. But, this is the story of not too many children.

Yes, there are far more children scarred and tormented. They hate they childhood. They would do anything to get out of the dungeons of being children and controlled and tortured by others. They want to break-free from this world. Some manage to get out and get a better life, but many continue to be where they are, not out of choice, but force.

This is the TRUE STORY of child labour. There are industries and individuals, who employee young innocent children. They put them to work under grueling circumstances. They make them work for long hours weaving delicate threads to make the world's most expensive carpets. They make them work in dangerous factory units manufacturing fireworks. They make children carry load even heavier than their own body weight.

Child Labour began to be considered a human rights issue and became an issue of public dispute, when the foundation of universal schooling was laid. Historically the transformation came with the industrial revolution and the emergence of concepts like children's rights and worker's rights.

Child labor is a human rights issue of immense sensitivity. Child labor is considered exploitative by the United Nations and International Labor Organization. The article 32 of the UN speaks about child labour as follows-"States parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development." To sum up, most countries of the world consider it highly inappropriate when a child below a certain age is put to work. People should be prohibited from hiring labor below a certain age. However, the minimum age at which a human can be put to work differs from country to country. In the US the child labor laws have set the minimum age to work in an organization without the parents consent at sixteen.

Child labor is widely prevalent in some form or the other, all over the world. The term is used for domestic work, factory work, agriculture, mining, quarrying, having own work or business' like selling food etc, helping parent's business and doing odd jobs. Children are regularly employed to guide tourists, sometimes doubling up as a marketing force to bring in business for shop owners and other business establishment.

In some industries children are forced to do repetitive and tedious work like weaving carpets, assembling boxes, polishing shoes, cleaning and arranging shops goods. It is seen that children are found working more in the informal sectors compared to factories and commercial registered organizations. Little children are often seen selling in the streets or working quietly on domestic chores within the high walls of homes - hidden away from the eyes of the media and labor inspectors.

According to the statistics given by International Labor Organization there are about 218 million children between the age of 5 and 17 working all over the world. The figure excludes domestic labor. The most condemned form of child labor is the use of children for military purpose and child prostitution. Child agricultural works, child singers and child actors outside of school hours during season time are more acceptable by champions of human rights and law. The phenomenon of child labor is a complex development issue worthy of investigation. The fact that vulnerable children are being exploited and forced into work, which is not fit for their age, is a human rights concern now. India and other developed and developing countries are really plagued by the problem of child employment in organized and unorganized sectors.

INITIATIVES TOWARDS ELIMINATION OF CHILD LABOUR - ACTION PLAN AND PRESENT STRATEGY

The problem of child labour continues to pose a challenge before the nation. Government has been taking various pro-active measures to tackle this problem. However, considering the magnitude and extent of the problem and that it is essentially a socio-economic problem inextricably linked to poverty and illiteracy, it requires concerted efforts from all sections of the society to make a dent in the problem.

Way back in 1979, Government formed the first committee called Gurupadswamy Committee to study the issue of child labour and to suggest measures to tackle it. The Committee examined the problem in detail and made some far-reaching recommendations. It observed that as long as poverty continued, it would be difficult to totally eliminate child labour and hence, any attempt to abolish it through legal recourse would not be a practical proposition. The Committee felt that in the circumstances, the only alternative left was to ban child labour in hazardous areas and to regulate and ameliorate the conditions of work in other areas. It recommended that a multiple policy approach was required in dealing with the problems of working children.

Based on the recommendations

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