Child labour is an issue that affects children and deprives them of their fundamental right to education. Even after 65 years of independence, every day, millions of children are forced to work in hazardous, illegal, and exploitative conditions, which apart from posing a danger to their health, also hamper their growth. Moreover, it is in direct conflict with the right to education law, which is the backbone of the Indian education system. Although it is illegal to force a child to work, however, many flout this law continuously. Our society is equally responsible for this, as we choose to ignore this problem because it does not affect our own children. As with any social menace, child labour suffers from poverty and illiteracy, the two major reasons, which force families below poverty line and compel their child to work. Of an estimated 215 child labourers around the globe: approximately 114 million (53%) are in Asia and the Pacific; 14 million (7%) live in Latin America; and 65 million (30%) live in sub-Saharan Africa. In the least developed countries, nearly one in four children (ages 4 to 15) are engaged in labour that is considered detrimental to their health and development. In the world’s poorest countries, nearly one in four children are engaged in work that is potentially harmful to their health.
We, as a society, have to play a major role to curb this menace by performing our moral and social responsibilities, for instance, one could start by not employing children as domestic help. Cases of child labour should be reported to the concerned agencies and strict action should be taken against offenders. People can form welfare groups to both spread awareness about the importance of child education and also encourage people below the poverty line not to send their child to work. Affluent sections of our society should come out and actively support this cause by providing food and shelter to children, also reporting cases of child labour to the concerned authorities is another strong measure against this lethal menace. An evening class program can be started in localities where poor children from nearby areas are taught free of cost; this helps people who cannot afford to send their children to school because of lack of resources. Boycotting both child-manufactured goods and the people who employ them can force them to change. The Government has to introduce model programs in coordination with various NGOs to empower weaker sections and spread awareness. License of industries employing child labour should be cancelled.
Children are a beacon of innocence and purity and they should be given an equal opportunity to build their future. Sustainable living for all can be achieved only when each one of us contributes for the welfare of society. If we work together diligently, we can overcome this problem. India will truly become a force to reckon with when every child is provided with an equal opportunity to succeed.