New Delhi: Calling for action on curbing child labour, Prime minister Manmohan Singh`s wife Gursharan Kaur on Saturday said people needed to wake up to the issue and not let it happen under their noses.
According to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), India is home to over 40 million child labourers.
"Poverty is at the heart of the issue of child labour. But more importantly, we have to understand our responsibility towards exposing people who are exploiting children as labourers," Kaur said at a summit on child labour.
"We have to wake up," she asserted.
Kaur said the task at hand should be to create awareness and find culprits within the society.
"The problem is deep-rooted and government and civil society are working at their levels. But we also have to work towards creating more awareness," Kaur said.
At the summit, organised by NGO Save the Children, children who have been engaged in labour urged the government to strengthen implementation of the Child Labour Act.
While the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act bans employment of children below the age of 14 in hazardous industries, apex child rights panel NCPCR`s chief Shanta Sinha said informal sectors such as agriculture also need to be included in the law.
"Somewhere, we have not realised that even if children are working in their own houses or helping on agricultural land, it is equally hazardous," Sinha said.
"The kind of economy we are living in, more children are likely to be engaged in the informal sector as they are cheap labour. The law has to step up towards these changes," Sinha added.