The child labour is the phenomenon which is observed to be widely prevalent in most of the developing economies of the world including India. The children in the economically poor and socially deprived families are sent to work in their early child hood to supplement the family income as the families do not have enough resources to send them to schools and make them honour their childhood. Though India is signatory of various international conventions and agreements like ILO, UNICEF child labour in India still persists and it is not completely eradicated. In the Indian context the past two decades are considered as “Complete intellectual triumph of the trinity of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation.” According to the data released by the Planning Commission on 22 July, 2013, poverty in India has declined from 37.2 percent in 2004-05 to 21.9 percent by 2011-12.
However, it is worth noting that despite an average growth rate of about 8.5 percent between 2004-05 and 2011-12, reduction in poverty has not been very remarkable and the socio economic plight of the people has not made of its positive transition in terms of addressing and eradicating the child labour- The Social Evil from the society. Present study is associated with task of understanding socio economic profile of children working in the mines and the various issues and challenges in relation with the “India’s Childhood in the Pits” based on the impact of mining on children in India as per the census report 2011 along with the various Policy initiatives taken by Government of India through various programmes, NGO’s and major National Legislations had a great impact on the situation of child labour and for the protection of child rights and Elimination of child labour in India.
Key words: Child labour, ILO, UNICEF, mining, Policy initiatives,
Child Labour is a burning issue of worldwide and it is a by product of socio-economic strata of the society. Children are always an asset to any society as well as to the nation. They are like the blooming flowers of the nation, therefore; the duty of the nation is to protect these flowers so as to have a meaningful and prosperous contribution to the development of the nation in the future. It is also a fact that the future of any society or a nation is highly depends on the sound growth and development of the children. Due to some push and pull factors or circumstances, children are forced to work in the early ages of their childhood, which harm to the children and ultimately to the society in various factor. Hence, child labour is considered as a social and economic problem of any nation. The most terrible myth about child labour is that they have very little liberty to opt their occupation. They have no rights as common employees and they cannot join for Labour Unions to raise their voice against the exploitation. (Tapan Kumar Shandilya 2011).
The existence and continuation of child labour is a stain on the conscience of modern civilised society. The child is a born free and equal but often finds an unexpected and uncertain future and becomes victim to exploitative set-up of the society. Children are put to work at an early age , which requires care, affection and proper education to train and provide an opportunity to grow and become competent citizens of the country. Unfortunately, children are denied from these opportunities and are ultimately enter into workforce. Children are the future of nation and are intended to play a vital role in shaping the destiny of the nation. But unfortunately, they are distressed a lot subjected to toilsome work without having good opportunities. This state sums up the sad plight of child labour. It is really miserable to note that majority of the children in most of the developing countries are breathing miserable, cheerless, drudgery work to fulfil starvation and finally deprived of all opportunities for self –growth and development. (Bipin Kumar 2011)
Child Labour can be defined as participation of children between 5-14 years in gainful activity. India has the largest population of child labour which constitutes about seven percent of the work force. Child labour restricts the right of children to access and benefit from education and denies the fundamental opportunity to attend school. Child labour prejudice children’s education and harmfully affects their health. Child labour has turn out to be a part of developmental process at National and International level. Still in modern world, it is becoming an abuse of child and human rights in third world countries including India. Child labour has direct relation to poverty, education, human development and overall development of the society. (K Swarnalatha 2016)
Conceptual Frame Work
Child: According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN, 1989) and the ILO’s Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182), the term “child” applies to anyone up to the age of 18 years. The child’s age is an important factor for differentiating between age appropriate tasks and child labour and is at the centre of the ILO’s Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138). Indian legislation also makes 18 years the general age of majority in India. However, other laws passed in India cause confusion in this area, with many laws defining childhood as only up to14 years of age.
The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to the work that;
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) recognizes every child’s right, “to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education,” or that is likely to harm the child’s health or, physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. Other international instruments further define a child’s right to be protected from the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment in armed conflict, sexual exploitation and drug trafficking.
According to the ministry of Labour and Employment – Government of India, notification dated 30th August 2017, amended Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 and cited that employing the children of age less than 14 years in the Industries of Hazardous occupations like mines, Stone quarries, Brick kilns, Inflammable Substances or Explosives: manufacturing storage selling loading, unloading or transport of explosives, crackers and fireworks is considered as Child labour and prohibited which also includes the industries, like Ferrous Metallurgical Industries, Non-ferrous Metallurgical Industries Primary Metallurgical Industries, namely zinc, lead, copper, manganese and aluminium, Coal, Lignite, Coke, similar other substance, Power Generating Industries, Pulp and Paper, Fertilizer Industries, Cement Industries. Petroleum & oil refinery Industries, Drugs and Pharmaceutical Industries, Distilleries and Breweries, Rubber (Synthetic Industries), Paints and Pigment Industries, Leather Tanning Industries, Electro-plating and furnace industries and pesticides & Industries.
An Overview of Mining in India
India is endowed with significant mineral resources. The constant endeavour of humans to mine more and more resources from the earth has been going on for centuries. Metals, stones, oil, gas and even sand are all mined. Indeed, steel, aluminium and other plants have come to be a symbol of progress and industrial growth, while fossil fuels and coal are mined for our ever-increasing need for energy. Every time a mining operation begins, it is with promises of growth and development, yet these promises are rarely delivered. Every time a mining operation begins, it is with promises of growth and development, yet these promises are rarely delivered, it is because of the struggle between human need and the human greed and Mining has manifested with the collective symbol of human greed in the form of illegal mining, Unorganised Mining and Employing children to work in the mining pits at the cost of the social dignity and honour.
Currently India produces (Census report 2011) 89 minerals out of which 4 are fuel minerals, 11 metallic, 52 non metallic and 22 minor minerals (such as building stones). Mining for fuel, metallic and non-metallic industrial minerals is currently undertaken in almost half of India’s districts. Coal and metallic reserves are spread across Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Iron ore deposits are located in Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand in the north, and Goa and Karnataka in the south. Limestone is found in Himachal Pradesh in the north, to Andhra Pradesh in the south and from Gujarat in the west to Meghalaya in the east. In terms of mineral deposits, Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh are the top three mineral bearing states.
GDP from Mining in India increased to 880.10 INR Billion in the fourth quarter of 2017 from 767.97 INR Billion in the third quarter of 2017. GDP From Mining in India averaged 752.71 INR Billion from 2011 until 2017, reaching an all time high of 1008.85 INR Billion in the second quarter of 2017 and a record low of 551.10 INR Billion in the third quarter of 2011.According to the reports of Asian Age November 09 2017, 7-8 per cent contribution of mining sector in GDP can create 25 million jobs in India. he contribution of mining sector in GDP has been stagnant to nearly 1.2%, which is highly alarming. The Indian mining sector grew at a CAGR of 7.3% in the last decade compared to 22% in China in the same period. The mining sector in India employs a smaller percentage of India’s population, just about 0.3% as compared to 3.8% in South Africa, 1.4% in Chile and 0.7% in China. It is also true that employment in the Indian mining sector has grown at a rate of 3% per annum over the last 10 years. The McKinsey Global Institute report suggests that development of mining sector will be important if India has to achieve 7% plus GDP growth. The report further says that mining sector alone has the potential to create 6 million additional jobs by 2025. The sector can contribute an additional USD 125 billion to India’s output and USD 47 billion to India’s GDP by 2025. About five years back, in the year 2012, mining sector accounted for about 3 million direct jobs and additional 8 million indirectly. The mining sector contributed 3.4% of India’s GDP in 1992-93, which declined to 3% in 1999-2000 and further to 2.3% in 2009-10. To reveal every 1% increase in the growth rate of mining sector results in 1.2% to 1.4% increment in the growth rate of industrial production and correspondingly increase of 0.3% in the growth rate of India’s GDP. The experts of mining and policy research are of contention that the mining sector aspires to contribute 7-8% to India’s GDP and if this happens, India would realize a GDP of 9% in the coming years. This is expected to create at least 25 million jobs, directly and indirectly. Therefore in the context given, it is the precise time to address the development of mining industry in the light of economic relevance in the judicial and to ensure social justice and equity by not employing the children in the mining pits.
Mining and Child Labour
As per the sources of ILO-International Labour Organisation Children as young as 5 years of age are working, in horrendous conditions, in mines and quarries across the world. Child labour in the mining sector is prevalent in many parts of Africa, South America and Asia. The majority are working in small scale “artisanal” mines, which tend to be unregulated and often located in remote, hard-to reach areas. The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines child labour in mining as the “Worst Form of Child Labour,” stating that “While all forms of child labour are harmful to children, those who work in the mining sector are in particular danger, labouring in conditions that pose a serious risk to their health and well being, exposing them to serious injury or even death on a daily basis.”.The ILO authorities provide supporting evidences to claim that the “Worst Form of Child Labour,” in the mining pits is a regular phenomenon in the case of illegal mining.
In India the global recession has meant that demand for minerals has reduced, and in some parts of the country mining activity has slowed down since 2008,due to the policy issues and other political reasons following the “boom” years for illegal mining in the country and consequently the child labour has reported to be increased. According to the press release of Ministry of Labour and employment dated 4th May 2016 there are five states which are India’s biggest child labour employers - Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Over half of India’s total child labour population works here. India’s biggest hub of child labour is Uttar Pradesh and it accounts for almost 20% of India’s child labourers. According to a Campaign against Child Labour (CAC) study, India has 1, 26, 66,377 child labourers of which UP has 19, 27,997 child labourers and has seen a dramatic fall in child labour in the last two decades. The tag line of the ministry of labour states that every child deserves to be in school and not work in fields and factories. There can be no rhyme or reason to child labour. Support Save the Children’s initiatives to pull children out of child labour and send them to school.
Review of Literature
Biggeri and Mehrotra (2017) have studied the macroeconomic factors that encourage child labour. They focus their study on five Asian nations including India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines. They suggest that child labour is a serious problem in all five, but it is not a new problem. Macroeconomic causes encouraged widespread child labour across the world, over most of human history. They suggest that the causes for child labour include both the demand and the supply side. While poverty and unavailability of good schools explain the child labour supply side, they suggest that the growth of low paying informal economy rather than higher paying formal economy is amongst the causes of the demand side. Other scholars too suggest that inflexible labour market, size of informal economy, inability of industries to scale up and lack of modern manufacturing technologies are major macroeconomic factors affecting demand and acceptability of child labour.
ILO (2017), The recent ILO report on child labour pointed out that globally 152 million children engaged as a child labour. out of these 64 million girls and 88 million boys and this is accounting for almost one in ten of all children worldwide as child labour. In this estimate 71 per cent of children working as a child labour in agricultural and allied sector and 69 per cent work within their own family. Nearly half of all those in child labour 73 million children are in hazardous work that directly cause dangerous to their health, safety, and moral development. Children in employment, a broader measure comprising both child labour and permitted forms of employment, involving children of legal working age, number 218 million.
Various studies in the international context have explored the relationship between reduction in child labour and school enrolment. Empirical studies carried out in Asian countries like Thailand have pointed out that for younger children (below 14 years) direct education costs deter school attendance. As the child gets older, income effects become more important determinants of child labour than the costs of education. Such studies have highlighted the factors that have motivated parents to keep children in school. These include public education, education subsidies and enforcement of regulation against Exploitative forms of child labour, awareness campaigns and greater participation of local communities.
Marshall Shelley (2016), Child labour is common, with as many as 375 000 child labourers working in Rajasthan’s mines. There are twice as many girls as boys labouring in India’s quarries. in addition to lower pay and greater abuse; they are subject to gender specific forms of abuse from their employers, including rape. Dalit and adivasi children too are particularly vulnerable to exploitation in the mining sector. A national study conducted in 2010 found that districts which are entirely dependent on mining have a lower literacy rate than the national average. Further, malnourishment is extensive, and the mortality rate of children under five is significantly higher in these areas.
Objectives of the Study:
Constitutional Provisions to Safeguard Children
Article 24: No child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or work which is hazardous.
Article (39-E): The state shall direct its policy towards securing the health and strength of workers, men and women and the tender age of children are not abused.
Article (39-F): Children shall be given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity.
Article 45: The state shall endeavour to provide within a period of 10 years from the commencement of the constitution for free and compulsory education for children until they complete the age of 14 years. The Implementation of Right to Education Act of 2010 ensures free and compulsory education for children between the ages of 6-14 years.
Legislative Measures to Eradicate Child Labour
Legislation to control and regulate child labour in India has existed for several decades. Notwithstanding these constitutional provisions, there are a number of enactments in the country which protect and safeguard the interest of child labour. The employment of children below 14 years of age has been prohibited under:
The Children (Pledging Labour) Act, 1933.
The Factories Act, 1948.
The Mines Act, 1952.
The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961.
The Bidi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966.
The Plantation Labour Act, 1951.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2000.
The Right to Children for Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009.
The setting up of Taskforce on Child Labour.
The Adoption of Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Initiation of National child labour project (NCLP) in 1988
However, it was in 1979, Government formed the first committee called Gurupadswamy Committee to study the issue of child labour and to suggest measures to tackle it. The Committee examined the problem in detail and made some far-reaching recommendations. It observed that as long as poverty continued, it would be difficult to totally eliminate child labour and hence, any attempt to abolish it through legal recourse would not be a practical proposition. The Committee felt that in the circumstances, the only alternative left was to ban child labour in hazardous areas and to regulate and ameliorate the conditions of work in other areas. It recommended that a multiple policy approach was required in dealing with the problems of working children. Based on the recommendations of Gurupadswamy Committee, the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act was enacted in 1986. The Act prohibits employment of children in certain specified hazardous occupations and processes and regulates the working conditions in others. The list of hazardous occupations and processes is progressively being expanded on the recommendation of Child Labour Technical Advisory Committee constituted under the Act.
The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, while allowing children to engage in the process of family based work or recognized school based activities, prohibits children to work in occupations concerned with passenger, goods mail transport by railway, carpet weaving, cinder picking, cleaning of ash-pits, cement manufacturing, building operation, construction, cloth printing, dyeing, weaving, manufacturing of matches, explosives and fireworks, catering establishments in railway premises or port limits, Bidi making, mica cutting and splitting, abattoirs, wool cleaning, soldering processes in electronic industries and other “hazardous processes”, “dangerous operations”, “printing” (as defined in Factories Act, 1948, etc). In consonance with the above approach, a National Policy on Child Labour was formulated in 1987.
As per the reports of ministry of labour and Employment and subsequent and timely amendments the Government of India with the objective of dealing with the problem of rapidly increasing number of child workers, The Government has been taking proactive steps to tackle this problem through strict enforcement of legislative provisions. State Governments which are the appropriate implementing authorities have been conducting regular inspections to detect the cases of violation. Since poverty is the root cause for the increase of child labour, government is laying lot of emphasis on the rehabilitation of these children and on improving economic conditions of their families. Further the UNICEF and ILO reports finds that economic poverty and the negligence attitude of the parents is sole cause of Child labour across the globe in citation of the examples from African countries and In Asia.
Profile of the Study Area
Chamarajanagar is the southernmost district in the state of Karnataka, India. It was carved out of the original larger Mysore District in the year 1998. Chamarajanagar town is the headquarters of this district. It is the third least populous district in Karnataka (out of 30), after Kodagu and Bangalore Rural
Chamarajanagar was earlier known as Sri Arikottara. Chamaraja Wodeyar, the Wodeyar king of Mysuru was born here and hence this place was renamed after him. The Vijaya Parsvanath Basadi, a holy Jain shrine was constructed by Punisadandanayaka, the commander of the Hoysala king Gangaraja in the year 1117 AD. Being the southernmost district of Karnataka, Chamarajanagar district borders the state of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Specifically, it borders Mysooru district of Karnataka to the west and north, Mandya and Ramanagara districts of Karnataka to the north-east, Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu to the east, Salem and Erode districts of Tamil Nadu to the south-east, Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu to the south and Wayanad district of Kerala to the south-west.
National Highway 209 starts from Bengaluru in Karnataka and ends at NH-7 north of Dindigul in Tamil Nadu pass through the district at Kollegal and ends up at Punajur, the Western Ghats near the Tamil Nadu - Karnataka border.
Most of the district lies in the leeward region of the Nilgiris and consists of mainly semi-arid rain-dependent flatlands along with forested hills.
Methods and Materials
This study is primarily based on data collected from Census 2001 and 2011. Apart from analysing Census data, the study also uses other sources such as data from the various surveys of ILO and the reports of ministry of labour and employment. In addition to these data sources, an informal survey was conducted by using structured interview scheduled to the child labourers in the out skirts of the border villages of Chamarajanagar, Gundlupet, Yelanduru and Kollegal taluks. The children of the age group of 8-14 years who were working in the mining sectors including stone crushers were chosen for the of study. The purposive sampling method was adopted to select the sample and the total sample consisted of 50 child labourers. At last, the measures which have been taken by the government to eradicate the child labours were also covered.
According to the census reports of 2001 and 2011 the trend in Child labour is reducing and in Karnataka it is minimum compared with the other states in North and eastern India.
The Socio - Economic profile of the child labourers in Chamarajanagara district
From the above table it is found that 44% of the child labour family income was through agriculture, 22 % were engaged as agricultural labourers, 20% of them were engaged with quarry works and remaining 12% were engaged in other works.
The above table reveals that the majority of child labours (84%) were wage paid workers. This indicates that the poverty is the major cause for sending their children to work.
The data from the above table indicates that majority of the children were engaged in unskilled work and few of them are in semi skilled and skilled work.
The above table shows that there are 76% of child labourers are travelling to the place of work and 24% of them were found working within their village.
The above inference reveals that the majority of the children were forced to child labours due to an abject poverty and remaining 16% was due to some other reasons like, school dropout and for self –dependence.
Summary of the findings
The majority of child labours were wage paid workers and child labourers are travelling to the place of work and few of them were found working within their village. It is mainly because of poverty and parents inability to look after the childhood of their respective children is happened to the sole cause of incidence of child labour in the study area of Chamarajanagara district. Apart from an abject poverty the other factors like, school dropout and for self –dependence were also major factors which forced to children to work and to become child labour in this region.
The problem of child labour is a challenge for the Nation. The practice deprives them of their childhood and is harmful to their physical and mental development. It was found that Poverty, unemployment, lack of Schools and growth of informal economy are considered as the important causes of child labour. UNICEF and ILO reports suggest that poverty is the biggest cause of child labour in India. The measures such as creation of advanced research facilities, human resource development, creation of environmental and occupational health cells and development of database and information system should be maintained to monitor and overcome the problem of child labour.
Associate Professor and Chairman, Department of Studies in Social Work, University of Mysore, Mysuru.
Research Scholar, Department of Studies in Social Work, University of Mysore, Mysuru.
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