CAPF AC Study Notes: Child Labour

By Dhruv Kumar|Updated : August 22nd, 2020

Child Labour is an important topic for exams like UPSC CAPF, CDS, AFCAT, etc. The information can be used in writing an essay, report or in an interview. so here is the article on child labour.

Child Labour

In the words of International Labour Organisation, child labour can be defined as work that either “deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity or is harmful to their physical and mental development.”

This is a social evil that has been present since ancient times which is evident from the fact that it finds mention in Kautilya’s book Arthashastra.

Over time, the society has evolved and so has the technology, yet at some unfortunate incidents, we still encounter this evil. Although the situation has improved over time, yet we are still far from eradicating this problem. In this article, we will look at the causes of child labour, what is the situation in India and what are the national and international laws in place to prevent this evil.

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The Causes of Child labour

There are multiple reasons as to why children often find their way into child labour. However, at the core of all the reasons is the need to earn because of their survival and that of their families depend on it. This need coupled with the actions of some opportunistic and immoral adults makes a child labourer.  Let us take a look at what are the major causes of child labour:

  • Poverty is the single greatest driving force which ensures that children make their way into employment.
  • Various widespread belief and local customs and practices, that are supposedly for the well being of the children also play an important part.
  • Lack of educational resources for children as well as their parents. The children despite realising that something wrong is being done, do not have the sufficient knowledge to stand up against it or to seek help.
  • Administrative Laxity and lack of monitoring of workplaces result in the continuance of this evil.
  • Rising Population Growth: Some parents not being capable of ensuring a higher source of income, choose to widen their income by getting their young ones employed.
  • The lure of cheap labour: Children having lesser demands and not being in a position to negotiate are seen as the perfect source of cheap labour by shopkeepers.

All the factors listed above ensure that children get into employment at a very early age. Most of them have not completed their education and it remains that way and they grow up, without the required knowledge to ensure their all-round growth.

Child labour in India

Let us take a look at what the situation is in India according to a report published by the UN in February 2019:

  • Reported violations of the Child Labour Act had a conviction rate of 25% between the period 2015-18.
  • Out of the 10,826 (almost 11k) cases of violation of the Child Labour Act reported, 6,032 (56%) went to prosecution stage for the period 2015-18.
  • Odisha was the undisputed leader in child labour, accounting for almost 42% of violations all over India. It was followed by Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab and Gujarat.
  • An astounding 80% of children aged below 14 years of age are engaged in child labour in a rural area, according to census 2011.
  • A total of 1.3 crore children are employed across various sectors in India, with agriculture employing the major chunk.
  • 69 lakh children aged 5-14 years were employed as agricultural labourers in India, which makes it the biggest child labour hub, employing more than 41% of the total child labourers in India,

According to ILO (International Labour Organisation), almost 4% of India’s child population, aged between 5 and 14 years, is employed in child labour.

Legal Framework against Child Labour

Constitutional Provisions

Article 21(A), Right to Life, provides that state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children between the age of 6 and 14 years.

Article 24 of the Constitution of India provides that no child below 14 years of age shall be employed in any factory, mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.

Article 39-e directs the state to make policies that secure the health and strength of men and women and also secure the tender age of children.

Article 39-f directs the state to make policies that ensure that children are provided with ample opportunities to develop their faculties.

Article 45 directs the state to ensure free and compulsory education for all children between the age of 6 and 14 years, within 10 years from the commencement of the constitution.


There are numerable legislations in India to prevent exploitation of children, whether it is mental, physical or sexual. The most important and most recent ones being the Juvenile Justice Act, amended in 2015 and the Child Labour Act, amended in 2016. Let us take a look at the various mechanisms and legislations that are present in India:

  • PENCIL portal is an online portal launched for the better monitoring and reporting of child labour. This portal is established under the Child Labour Act.
  • Prevention of Children against Sexual Offences Act, commonly called POCSO is an act that prevents the sexual exploitation of children along with the involvement of children in sex labour.
  • Right to Education Act makes it mandatory for centre and state to ensure enrolment of children between the age of 6 and 14 years in school and provide them with free education.
  • Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000 (the JJ Act) and amendment of the JJ Act in 2006: It includes the working child in the category of children in need of care and protection, without any limitation of age or type of occupation.
  • Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act is the key act governing the reduction of child labour practices in India. It was amended in 2016, the key provisions of which are as mentioned below:
  1. It prevents all children under the age of 14 years from being employed in any and all occupations, hazardous or not.
  2. Children are permitted to work to only help their families, only in a family business or as a child artist, only after school hours or during vacations.
  3. The concept of adolescent labour was introduced.
  4. Child and Adolescent Labour Fund were established in which all the fines and penalties are to be deposited.
  5. Punishments were made stricter.

International Laws

Apart from the Indian legal framework, there are some international frameworks in place to prevent child labour. Many laws in India are based on these international standards. Let us take a look at some of the important international laws:

  1. UN Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) which provides for equality of all human beings. As a result of UNDHR, Declaration of the Rights of the Child came into existence in 1959 which specifies all the rights that need to be ensured for children to give them a holistic life.
  2. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights make provision for the care of children.
  3. International Program on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) is a global program specifically aimed at the prevention of child labour. It was launched by the International Labour Organisation in December 1991. It is the most comprehensive global framework in place. India became the first country to ratify it in 1992 when a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between India and ILO.


The cycle of poverty and its implications must be addressed properly, so families can find other means to survive. Many NGOs like Bachpan Bachao Andolan, ChildFund, CARE India, Kailash Satyarthi Children Foundation etc. have been working to eradicate child labour in India. There is a need for proper implementation of laws and Right kind of focus and orientation with state-level authorities is also needed to avoid the practice of child labour. Forced Child Labour requires urgent action from governments and the international communities.

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Dhruv KumarDhruv KumarMember since Feb 2020
Cleared Defence Exams
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