By Manish Prabhat
Edited by Namrata Caleb, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
Engaging children in any sort of work inhibits affects their fullest growth. Legislative provisions are formulated to prevent the menace of child labour. But the children are the most deprived section of population forced to earn a pittance or to contribute to family work sacrificing personal development. Poverty coupled with rapidly growing population, ignorance and increasing dependency load are behind the grim incidence of children employment in the villages and towns of developing countries. Though India is signatory of various international Conventions and Agreements, there is growing number of child labour in India. They work under very hazardous conditions.
Child labour is an integral part of labour force, especially in poor countries. These children are the most deprived section of population forced to enter labour market at tender age to earn a pittance or to contribute to family work, sacrificing personal development. Poverty coupled with rapidly growing population, ignorance and increasing dependency load are behind the grim incidence of children employment in the villages and towns of developing countries. Child labour hampers the normal physical, intellectual, emotional and moral development of a child.
- Engaging Institutions of Governance: The institutions of governance at grass root can monitor the policies, programmes and laws to ensure protection of children’s interests and rights. Gram Panchayat can play a responsible role in identification of the projects in the Gram Panchayat areas and allocate employment opportunities to the needy. It can also ensure child participation and choice in matters and decisions affecting their lives. There is need to create community monitoring system through their effective participation in the Gram Sabha.
- Community Action towards Child Education: There is need to bring about wide spread public awareness towards initiating community action in promoting school enrollment. Education helps a child to develop cognitively, emotionally and socially, and needless to say, education is often gravely reduced by child labour. We need to create a climate in which community people at large would not tolerate the child labour in any form any more. There is need to bring about awareness among the poor parents so that they will develop a willingness to make any sacrifice to get their children educated. It is possible only when they are convinced about the significance of education.
- Budget Advocacy: The organisations need to take up the issue of budget analysis and advocacy for budget allocation for the implementation of the policies. Most time the policies are formulated without proper budget allocation, which affect the process of implementation. Budget analysis is an advocacy tool for developing public understanding on policy priorities of the Government which will have a greater impact on those who have little political influence (poor and marginalized). It is important to scrutinize the Government Budgets from the perspective of child development.
- Campaign for strict implementation of Legislations: NGOs and voluntary organisations can do an intensive campaign to spread across the civil society organisations through networking to draw the attention of the policy makers, implementators and the community. The organisations working on any issues should involve in the campaign by putting the problem of child labour on the prime agenda. The campaign should focus on the effective implementation of the various legislations. The strategies should be aimed at change at the local, provincial, national and/or international levels. NGOs can play a pivotal role in the process of universalisation of education by adopting innovative approaches to quality education.
Unless there are socially conscious policies in the country, the policies won’t make that much of a difference. It is still true that things are not very good for children. Child rights need to be actively respected rather than simply acknowledged, and we must admit that more than the passage of laws and publicizing the same to stimulate the kind of debate in such a way that leads to attitudinal change. The problem of child labour can be best addressed by adopting various strategies ranging from enrolment and retaining children in the school, income generation avenues for adults, poverty eradication programmes simultaneously. The need of the hour is that the Government should ensure all measures and an enabling environment for survival, growth, development and protection of all children, so that each child can realize his or her inherent potential and grow up to be a healthy and productive citizen.
Manish Prabhat studies at Kirorimal College, University of Delhi. A geographer, having the desire to explore the world. He is an avid reader and loves to observe the happenings around. Loves to think on issues affecting the society when alone. Other than that he is a civil service aspirant with a hope of changing the social perspective about the needs and rights of children. He believes in respecting all rather than a particular group of people.