From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 2- Challenges in dealing with child labour
The article highlights the risk posed by pandemic to the gains made by India on reducing the child labour in India.
Child labour in India
- A Government of India survey (NSS Report No. 585, 2017-18) suggests that only 79.6%. of the children in the age group of 14-17 years are attending educational institutions (formal and informal).
- The Census of India 2011 reports 10.1 million working children in the age group of 5-14 years.
- Out of whom 8.1 million are in rural areas mainly engaged as cultivators (26%) and agricultural labourers (32.9%).
- UNESCO estimates based on the 2011 Census record 38.1 million children as “out of school” i.e.18.3% of total children in the age group of 6-13 years.
- A Rapid Survey on Children (2013-14), jointly undertaken by the Ministry of Women and Child Development and UNICEF, found that less than half of children in the age group of 10-14 years have completed primary education.
How policies and initiatives helped reduce child labour in India (2001-11)
- Child labour in India decreased in the decade 2001 to 2011.
- Policy interventions such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) 2005, the Right to Education Act 2009 and the Mid Day Meal Scheme have paved the way for children to be in schools along with guaranteed wage employment (unskilled) for rural families.
- Efforts towards convergence of government schemes is also the focus of the implementation of the National Child Labour Project.
- Ratifying International Labour Organization Conventions Nos. 138 and 182 in 2017, the Indian government further demonstrated its commitment to the elimination of child labour.
- The Ministry of Labour and Employment-operated online portal allows to share information and coordinate on child labour cases at the national, State and local levels for effective enforcement of child labour laws.
- The economic contraction and lockdowns have worsened the situation, posing a real risk of backtracking the gains made in eliminating child labour.
- With increased economic insecurity, lack of social protection and reduced household income, children from poor households are being pushed to contribute to the family income.
- With closure of schools and challenges of distance learning, children may drop out leaving little scope for return unless affirmative and immediate actions are taken.
- As many schools and educational institutions are moving to online platforms for continuation of learning, the ‘digital divide’ is a challenge that India has to reconcile within the next several years.
- The NSS Report titled ‘Household Social Consumption on Education in India’ suggests that in 2017-18, only 24% of Indian households had access to an Internet facility.
- The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2020 survey highlights that a third of the total enrolled children received some kind of learning materials from their teachers during the reference period (October 2020) as digital mode of education was opted for.
- It is through strategic partnerships and collaborations involving government, employers, trade unions, community-based organisations and child labour families that we could make a difference building back better and sooner.
- We need a strong alliance paving our way towards ending child labour in all its forms by 2025 to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 8.7.
Consider the question “What are the policy measures and programmatic intervention implemented to reduce the child labour in India. How Covid-19 threatens the gains made on reducing the child labour?”
To deal with the child labour challenge, we need the right level of commitment among all the relevant stakeholders and the right mix of policy and programmatic interventions are present.