Rashi Aditi Ghosh/Zee Research Group
Irregularities under the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 are steadily on the rise posing serious question mark over the enforcement of the child labour prevention in the country.
The Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in 18 occupations and 65 processes.
According to the latest report by the labour and employment ministry, the number of irregularities registered under Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act is increasing since 2010-2011 except for a dip in 2011-2012.
While 6556 irregularities were registered in 2010-2011, the irregularities slightly dipped to 6353 in 2011-2012.
But then, presenting a negative trend the number of irregularities grew dramatically by 11 times to 70124 during 2012-2013.
Commenting on the lack of political will to enforce child protection, Kailash Satyarthi, founder of ‘Bachpan Bachao Andolan’, a Delhi-based NGO working against child labour said, “Irregularities under the Child Labour Act are growing because rights of the children are not protected in India. In my view politicians are only concerned about their vote bank and unfortunately children don’t vote.”
The government has admitted to India being home to the largest number of child labourers in the world. It has initiated several steps to mitigate the crisis but the results are not too encouraging. The number of inspections conducted during 2010-11 was 3227 and it fell to 3202 in 11-12, but rose again to 6141 in 12-13.
Talking of growing number of child labour cases, Sudha Parthasarathy, director at Deepalaya, a Delhi-based NGO working on issues affecting the urban and rural poor with a special focus on children, said, “Inflating irregularities pertaining to child labour is not new to India. The enforcement of the Child Labour Act is not adequate in India because the authorities dealing with it are not able to stop the downpour of children into employment at the entry level.”
The labour and employment ministry has made claims in regard to “making regular inspections for initiating prosecution cases against defaulters.” From its own admission India nearly has 49.84 lakh working children (NSS 66th Round) (2009-10).
According to Census 2011, the major occupations engaging child labour are `pan`, `bidi` and cigarettes (21 per cent), construction (17 per cent), domestic workers (15 per cent), and spinning and weaving (11 per cent). The data for 2012-13 is not officially available yet.
Parthasarathy from Deepalaya lamented, “Not just authorities but even the common man fails to fight against growing child labour. No one wants to think twice before recruiting a child as a maid as it’s none of their business and no one even wants to complain against a 10-year-old child working in the neighborhood as it is out of their concern area.”