Child labour laws in India Upsc

Child labour is defined by ILO as the Worst form of child labor as damages children’s health, threatens their education, and leads to further exploitation and abuse.

UNICEF does not oppose work that children may perform at home, on the family farm, or family business – as long as that work is not a danger to their health and wellbeing. And it doesn’t prevent them from going to school and enjoying childhood activities.

child labour

12 June 2020 – International Labor Organization started World Day against Child Labor. This year International Labor Organization celebrating 100 years of advancing Social Justice and promoting decent work.

152 Million Are still in child labor across the world, 73 million work in hazardous labour.

  • 72.1 million Child labour in Africa,
  • almost half of the world. 62.1 million in Asia-Pacific
  • 10.7 million in America’s
  • 1.2 million In Arab states.
  • 5.5 million In Europe and Central Asia.
  • More than 10 million child laborers in India.

Statistics regarding child labor are dismal in India even after continued efforts through legislation for decades. This year India is in 113 positions in Child Labor out of 176 counties, in the report that evaluates countries based on children’s wellbeing.

Child labor has existed throughout history, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, children of age group 15 to 14 from poorer families worked in western nations and their colonies. These children mainly worked in household works, agriculture, factories, mining’s and services such as newsboys.

Some even work in night shift lasting 12 hours. With the increase in household income, availability of schools, and passing of child labor laws, the incident of child labor fell.

However in the world, in the poorest countries around one in every four children is still engaged in child labor. It occurs in almost all sectors, yet 7 out 10 of everyone works in Agriculture.

World Day against Child Labor Aim:

To focus attention on the global extent of child labor. And action and programme to eliminate child labor. This day brings together governments, employers, civil society.

Theme for 2019

Children shouldn’t work in fields, but on dreams!

The theme focuses on transformations in the world of work, and what it means for children. When the result of technology or environment or demographic and what this means to means to children’s in society.

In 2019, ILO also celebrating 100 years of advancing social justice and promoting decent work. Protecting children is embedded in the International Labor Organization since it was founded in 1919.

Now after 100 years International Labor Organization is looking at the Sustainable Development Goals 8.7

Child Labor regarding Sustainable Development goals 8.7

Eradication of child labour is part of the sustainable development goal 8.7 which was adopted in 2015. These goals give calls to the global community to take immediate and effective measures against child labors.

Also enables to take effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking. Securing prohibition and elimination of worst forms of child labor.

This includes ending the recruitment and use of child soldiers.

What is Child Labor?

The work is mentally, physically, socially, or morally dangerous and harmful to children. The work interferes with schooling by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school.

The work that forces children to leave school prematurely. The work requires children to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.

Worst forms of Child Labor

All forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery. Also sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and forced or compulsory labor.

It includes forced and compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict. The use of children for prostitution, pornography, sexual performances, etc. Using the children for illicit activities like production and trafficking of drugs.

The works which harm the health, safety, or morals of children.

2017 Report on Child Labor by ILO

The number of child laborers around the world fell from 246 Million in 2000 to 152 million in 2016. Yet the millions of children are exploited in developing countries as cheap laborers.

In India, children are working in starvation, wages in textile factories, brick-making factories, quarries, making and selling tobacco products.

And cheap labor in the industries such as steel extraction, gem polishing, and carpet manufacturing.

Causes of Child Labor in India and steps to prevent it

According to the national census of 2011, the total child population in India in the age group 5 to 14 is 259.6 million. 10.1 million Child laborers in the 5 to 14 age group.

22.87 million Child laborers in the 15-18 age group. It denotes that 1 in 11 children between 5 to 18 age group is child labor. The 2011 census show, 20% decline in the incidence of child worker from the 2001 census. The decline was more visible in rural areas.

During this period the no of child laborers increased in urban areas. In 2001, 11.3 million child laborers were in rural areas. In 2011, 8.1 million child workers were in rural areas.

In 2011, 1.3 million child laborers were in urban areas. In 2011, 2 million children were employed in urban areas. The location of child labor becomes invisible, as the site of work has changed from factories to home dwellers.

2011 census also shows that there are significant disparities between various states in child labor. Five states account for 55% of child workers. Uttar Pradesh has the largest number of child laborers with 2.1 million child laborers.

Bihar has 1 million, Rajasthan has 0.84 million, Madhya Pradesh has 0.7 million and Maharashtra has 0.72 million.


Act says that children under the age of 14 must be employed. Operation Smile, Operation Muskan, etc. Programme to rescue children from works and rehabilitating. Joining again with their families, supporting their families escaping poverty.

There is a need to speed up these operations in the regions where there is large child labor. The states which perform these operations well have less burden of child labor. An analysis by CRY (Child Rights and You) of the 2011 census reveals, that about 1.4 million (7-14) age group, cannot write even their names.

This means 1 in seven child labour in the age group of 7 to 14 is illiterate. This is the sad reality of children who work more than six months a year. The child laborers who support their family by working less than 6 months in a year are equally bad, about 2 million such child labours were also illiterate.

According to several reports, if a child does not attend school for more than 2 months has a high chance of dropping out of school. We need to give bridge education to schools, to be on par with other students.

The parent should be convinced as education would improve the lives of children. In India, Parents are already aware of this, that the reason 95% gross enrolment ratio in schools in the country.

Initiatives against Child Labor

In 1979-First statutory committee to analyze and research child labour. Gurupadswamy committee observed the problem of child labour is linked to poverty. By the recommendation of the above committee, the Government enacted the Child labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act in 1986.

India ratified ILO conventions No 138 and 182. Child labour (Prohibition and Prevention) Amendment Act, 2016.

Child Labour Laws in India

Child labour laws in India

Child Labour Amendment Bill (2016)

No employment of children below the age of 14 years in any commercial enterprise. This act but excludes a section of toiling children in unorganized sectors such as agriculture and household work

No employment of adolescents in hazardous occupations such as chemical plants, mines, etc. The act also says that the children only work after school hours or during holidays. The children are allowed to work in family-owned secure sectors.

However, no child to permit to work between 7 pm and 8 am. Children are not allowed to work overtime and the employer must provide a holiday of one whole day every week to every child employed.

National Policy on Child Labour(1987)

It aims at the rehabilitation of children working in hazardous occupations and processes.

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act

A working child is one that is in need of care and protection, without limitation of age or occupation.

Right to Education Act 2009

All children aged 6 to 14 years must get a free school education. Article 21A recognizes education as a fundamental right. To use education to combat child labour in India.

Mines Act of 1952

Employment of Children below the age of 18 in Mines is illegal.

International Laws on Child Labour

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989. The Minimum Age for Admission to the employment of 1973 by ILO convention 138 is 18. Worst Forms of child labour of 1999 by ILO convention 182.

2016 Global Estimates of Modern Slavery

About 4.3 million children below the age of 18 years are employed in forced labour. Around 18% of the 24.8 million forced labour victims around the world. Around 1.0 million children are in commercial sexual exploitation.

3.0 million children in forced labour for other forms of labour exploitation. 300,000 children are in forced labour imposed by state authorities.

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* * All the Notes in this blog, are referred from Tamil Nadu State Board Books and Samacheer Kalvi Books. Kindly check with the original Tamil Nadu state board books and Ncert Books.
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