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The World Day Against Child Labour will be observed on 12 June to raise awareness about the plight of child labourers worldwide

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  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the World Day Against it in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of it and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it.
  • Each year on 12 June, the World Day brings together governments, employers and workers organizations, civil society, as well as millions of people from around the world to highlight the plight of child labourers and what can be done to help them.
  • ILO defines child labour as

"work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development".

  • In 2019, the International Labour Organization celebrates 100 years of advancing social justice and promoting decent work. The World Day Against Child Labour looks back on progress achieved over 100 years of ILO support to countries on tackling child labour.
    • One of the first Conventions adopted by the ILO was on Minimum Age in Industry
  • This year also marks 20 years since the adoption of the ILO’s Worst Forms of it Convention, 1999
  • The theme for 2019: Children shouldn’t work in fields, but on dreams
  • SDG target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals calls on the global community to:

"Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.”

Child Labour and India

  • Although comprehensive data on child labour are not available for India, as per the 2011 Census, in the age group 5-14 years, 10.1 million of 259.6 million constituted working children.
  • Even though there was a decline in the number of working children to 3.9% in 2011 from 5% in 2001, the decline rate is grossly insufficient to meet target 8.7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is to end child labour in all forms by 2025.
    • 12% of all children in India are engaged in some form of child labour, according to data released by UNICEF in 2017.
    • An analysis (2016) by CRY (Child Rights and You) of census data shows that the overall decrease in child labour is only 2.2%per year from 2001 to 2011.
  • There are five states which are India’s biggest child labour employers- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Read Also: India To Lose Preferential Trade Terms With U.S.

The Indian government introduced laws to curb this atrocity. For example,

  • The Child Labour Act in 1986 was the first large-scale prohibition against child labour, and
  • A 2009 law called the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act tightened the child labour laws by guaranteeing free education for children under the age of 14.
  • National Child Labour project, which is a rehabilitative scheme providing bridge education and vocational training to adolescents.
  • The government has launched a dedicated platform to ensure effective enforcement of child labour laws and end child labour.
  • On World Day Against Child Labour (June 12) in 2017, India ratified two core conventions of the International Labour Organization on child labour.
    • Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138): India is the 170th ILO member State to ratify Convention No.138
    • Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182): India is 181st member State to ratify Convention No. 182.

Other International Safeguards against child labour

  1. Declaration of Rights of Child, 1959: Universal declaration of human rights 1948 stipulates (under article 25) that childhood is entitled to special care and assistance. The above principles along with other principles of a universal declaration concerning child were incorporated in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, 1959
  2. United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989: It sets out different rights of children- civil, political, economic, cultural, social and health. Article 32 states that the government should protect children from work that is dangerous or might harm their health or their education.

Steps India could take to eliminate child labour

  • Strengthen policy and legislative enforcement
  • Build the capacities of government, workers’ and employers’ organisations as well as other partners at national, State and community levels.
  • India should invest in enhancing its body of knowledge on child labour, emphasising quantitative information.
    • There are many common factors and drivers across the spectrum that push children into the labour market. These have to be addressed. Such factors and drivers can only be identified and analysed through proper research, surveys and assessments.
  • Utilise the private sector to eliminate child labour from its domestic and multinational supply chains.
    • It is also a matter of competitive advantage for multi-nationals to ensure that child labour is effectively eliminated in their supply chains. A sector-wide culture of child labour-free businesses has to be nurtured.
  • Child labour is a vicious circle of poverty, unemployment, underemployment and low wages. There should be a concerted effort towards social protection programmes and cash transfers to improve the economic situation of families and to reduce the “need” to send children to work

The fight against child labour is not just the responsibility of one, it is the responsibility of all. Source

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