India is the world’s second-fastest growing economy and it is hard to believe that it has over 60 million child labourers. The law strictly prohibits this, although for a number of reasons it is not enforced. The reasons for this are lack of awareness, illiteracy, unemployment of adults, lack of proper planning for family maintenance and poverty. Moreover Child labour is a complex problem and phenomenon; needs a multidimensional approach. Talaash Association has been working since its inception in act of prevention, protection, partnership and sustainable reintegration of working children in order to abolish child labour. Apart from that, advocacy, research and developing capacity of multi-level stakeholders involved in ensuring child protection are also undertaken by Talaash Association.
- Working children are denied their fundamental human rights like education, leisure, play, and adequate standards of living, opportunity for developing personality, talents, mental and physical abilities, and protection from abuse and neglect. These vulnerable groups are always suffering from sexual abuse and exploitation and often become subject to prostitution, pornography and victims of human trafficking. The high risk groups are also subject to internal migration or sometime external for the purpose commercial sexual exploitation and bonded labour.
- Poverty plays a key role in driving children to work. Poor households are more likely to have to resort to child labour to meet basic needs and deal with uncertainty. Exposure to traumatic situations, resulting in loss of family income, can have a similar effect on household decisions. For example, economic shocks, such an adult member of the family losing his/her job, health-related shocks like a serious illness or an employment injury, and agriculture-related shocks, such as drought, flood and crop failure, can dramatically reduce household incomes and cause children drop out from school and go to work to contribute to the family income.
- A survey conducted by 7th All India Education Survey revealed 19% of children employed work as domestic help. 90% working children are in rural India. 85% of working children are in the unorganized sectors. About 80% of child labour is engaged in agricultural work.
- According to UNICEF there are at least 70 to 80 million child workers in India. (source: Plan UK and Plan International, Child Worker, 2005, p 6)
- According to the 2001 census, there are 12.6 million children working in hazardous occupations in India. The huge difference in official and estimated figures is due to reluctance on the part of parents and employers to include child workers in the census. Thus many millions of adults and children not officially registered in any way. (Source: UNICEF, Children’s Issues – Picture in India, at http://www.unicef.org/india/children.html. Figure taken from the 2001 Census. )
- Lack of resources to reduce poverty, are also concerns for child labour. For more than 400 million of India’s people–or one-third of the world’s poor–still live in poverty. (source: Overview of India by World Bank)