Child Labour in India!

Child Labour | India | 22nd October 2022 | Virtual Wire



"Every single minute matters, every single child matters, every single childhood matters"-Kailash Satyarthi

According to the census 2011 data, the population of children aged between 0-18 is 472 million which is 39 per cent of the total population. Among them, more than 33 million children are employed in various forms of child labour.



United Nations (UN) defines Child labour as the work carried out to the detriment and endangerment of a child, in violation of international law and national legislation. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines it as work that takes away children's childhood, potential and dignity which is harmful to their physical and mental development.



  • Child Labour decreased by 2.2 per cent per year from 2001-2011.

  • Major occupations involving child labour are Pan, Bidi and Cigarettes (21%), Construction (17%) and Spinning and Weaving (11%).

  • 1 in 11 child labourers worldwide is from India.

  • More than half of the 5.5 million working children belong from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

  • 56% of working adolescents are no longer studying. And 70% of those in hazardous conditions are not studying.

  • Employment of boys(38.7 million) in hazardous work is more than that of girls (8.8 million).

Laws and Policies, Constitutional Provisions

Fundamental Rights


  • Article 21 A: Right to Education.

  • Article 24: Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc.

  • Article 39: The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing.

Prohibition & Regulation

  • Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986.

  • Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016.

ILO core conventions

  • Forced Labor Convention (No. 29).

  • Abolition of Forced Labor Convention (No.105).

  • Equal Remuneration Convention (No.100).

  • Discrimination (Employment Occupation) Convention (No.111).

  • Freedom of Association and Protection of Right to Organized Convention (No.87).

  • Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention (No.98).

  • Minimum Age Convention (No.138).

  • Worst forms of Child Labour Convention (No.182).

National Policy

  • A legislative action plan.

  • Focusing and convergence of general development programmes for benefiting children wherever possible, and Project-based action plan of action for the launching of projects for the welfare of working children in areas of high concentration of child labour.

  • Right to Education Bill.

  • Rehabilitation of Children Working in Hazardous Occupations.

Two million children were sought and rehabilitated in special schools where they had access to education, vocational training, monthly stipends, nutrition and health checks.

Hazardous Occupations include:

  • Transport of passengers, goods or mail by railways.

  • Cinder picking, clearing of an ash pit or building operation in the railway premises.

  • Work in a catering establishment at a railway station, involving the movement of a vendor or any other employee of the establishment from one platform to another or in to or out of a moving train.

  • Work relating to the construction of a railway station or with any other work where such work is done in close proximity to or between the railway lines port authority within the limits of any port.

  • Work relating to the selling of crackers and fireworks in shops with temporary licenses.

  • Abattoirs/Slaughter Houses.

  • Automobile workshops and garages.

  • Foundries.

  • Handling of toxic or inflammable substances or explosives.

  • Handloom and power loom industry.

  • Mines (underground and underwater) and collieriesPlastic units and fibreglass workshops.

  • Domestic workers or servants and Dhabas (roadside eateries), restaurants, hotels, motels, tea shops, resorts, spas or other recreational centres.

  • Diving.

  • Caring of Elephant.

  • Working in the circus Hazardous processes include.

  • Beedi-making.

  • Carpet-weaving => carpet weaving including preparatory and incidental process thereof.

  • Cement manufacture, including bagging of cement.

  • Cloth printing, dyeing and weaving => cloth printing, dyeing and weaving including processes preparatory and incidental there too.

  • Manufacture of matches, explosives and fireworks.

  • Mica-cutting and splitting.

  • Shellac manufacture.

  • Soap manufacture.

  • Tanning.

  • Wool-cleaning.

  • Building and construction industry => Building and Construction Industry including processing and polishing of granite stones*Manufacture of slate pencils (including packing).

  • Manufacture of products from agate.

  • Manufacturing processes use toxic metals and substances such as lead, mercury, manganese, chromium, cadmium, benzene, pesticides and asbestos.

  • Cashew and cashew nut descaling and processing.

  • Soldering processes in electronic industries.

  • ‘Aggarbatti’ manufacturing.

  • Automobile repairs and maintenance including processes incidental thereto namely, welding, lathe work, dent beating and painting.

  • Brick kilns and Roof tiles units.

  • Cotton ginning and processing and production of hosiery goods.

  • Detergent manufacturing.

  • Fabrication workshops (ferrous and non-ferrous).

  • Gem cutting and polishing.

  • Handling of chromite and manganese oresJute textile manufacture and coir making.

  • Lime Kilns and Manufacture of LimeLock Making.

  • Manufacturing processes having exposure to lead such as primary and secondary smelting, welding and cutting of lead-painted metal constructions, welding of galvanized or zinc silicate, polyvinyl chloride, mixing (by hand) of crystal glass mass, sanding or scraping of lead paint, burning of lead in enamelling the workshops, lead mining, plumbing, cable making, wiring patenting, lead casting, type founding in printing shops. Store type setting, assembling of cars, shot making and lead glass blowing.

  • Manufacture of cement pipes, cement products and other related work.

  • Manufacture of glass, glassware including bangles, fluorescent tubes, bulbs and other similar glass products.

  • Manufacture of dyes and dyestuffs stuff.

  • Manufacturing or handling of pesticides and insecticides.

  • Manufacturing or processing and handling of corrosive and toxic substances, metal cleaning and photo engraving and soldering processes in electronic industry.

  • Manufacturing of burning coal and coal briquettes.

  • Manufacturing of sports goods involving exposure to synthetic materials, chemicals and leather.

  • Moulding and processing of fibreglass and plastic.

  • Oil expelling and refinery.

  • Papermaking.

  • Potteries and ceramic industry.

  • Polishing, moulding, cutting, welding and manufacturing of brass goods in all forms.

  • Processes in agriculture were tractors, threshing and harvesting machines are used and chaff cutting.

  • Sawmill – all processes.

  • Sericulture processing.

  • Skinning, dyeing and processes for manufacturing of leather and leather products.

  • Stone breaking and stone crushing.

  • Tobacco processing includes the manufacturing of tobacco, tobacco paste and handling of tobacco in any form.

  • Tyre making, repairing, re-treading and graphite beneficiation.

  • Utensils making, polishing and metal buffing.

  • 'Zari' making (all processes)’.

  • Electroplating.

  • Graphite powdering and incidental processing grinding or glazing of metals.

  • Diamond cutting and polishingExtraction of slate from mines.

  • Rag picking and scavenging.

  • Processes involving exposure to excessive heat (e.g., working near a furnace) and cold mechanized fishing food ProcessingBeverage IndustryTimber handling and loading mechanical LumberingWarehousingProcesses involving exposure to free silica such as slate, pencil industry, stone grinding, slate stone mining, stone quarries, agate industry.




  • Children who belong to poor Households, start working at a very young age in order to earn money for survival.

  • Poor people often have more kids whom they use as assets with the purpose of sending them to work.

  • Parents who suffer from extreme poverty, often pressure their kids to contribute to the household.

  • Kids who live in slums work at meagre wages.

  • Some organizations traffick kids illegally and torture them mentally and physically.



  • People who lack formal education don't understand what's wrong with the concept of child labour.

  • They are not aware of the laws and provisions.

  • They don't understand how it affects a child.

  • Companies trick them with tempting offers and they innocently sign contracts without understanding the consequences.

  • Kids are unaware of prevailing wage rates and minimum wage.



  • To minimize the cost of production, companies use kids. These children get very little or no wage at all.

  • Child labourers receive a lot less money than the minimum wage rate.

High unemployment and under-employment


  • When the adults in the family don't earn much, children are forced to work to support the household.

  • It's easier for firms to employ child labourers instead of adults.

Costly Education


  • Many poor Households can't even afford primary education as it's too costly.

  • Free education is either unavailable or lacks quality in most cases.

  • The opportunity cost of attending school becomes too high.

  • Most schools don't focus much on the development of practical skills. As a result, even educated people suffer from unemployment.



  • Some fraud entities often play with poor families by showing them tempting loan offers and trapping them in debt.

  • Parents send their kids to work to recover the debt.


Economic Impacts


  • At the micro level/ in the case of individual Households.

  • Seemingly increase in the family income.

  • Higher probability of survival in the short run.

  • The lower level of human capital in the long run.

  • The ratio of capital per individual falls from generation to generation.

  • New skills aren't developed in most cases.

  • Lack of leisure time for upgrading skills.

  • Lack of education and awareness.

  • Firms don't focus on investing in technologies when they get child labourers, spending significantly less money.

  • Used to low wage.

  • End up doing illegal stuff.

  • Child labourers become adults with children who are also child labourers.

  • At Macro level/in the case of the whole country.

  • Increases the income of the Households in the short run but decreases it in the long run. GDP falls in the long run.

  • This creates a cycle of poverty: child labour leads to low wages, which leads to the need for more income in poor households, which leads to the need for child labour.

  • Income inequality rises.

  • Affects long-run growth.

  • Doesn't attract foreign investment .

  • Substitute adult workers (debatable).

  • Arguably increases adult unemployment by doing things at a lower wage rate.

  • Affects the adult wage rate depending upon the structure of the labour market.

Psychological Impacts


  • Don't know what childhood feels like.

  • Develop anxiety.

  • Damage to emotional well-being.

  • Prone to psychological disorders like schizophrenia, panic attack, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) etc.

  • Suffer from depression .

  • May develop hate for others.

  • Encounter sexual abuse and emotional trauma, hopelessness, shame, guilt, nightmares.

  • Loss of confidence and low self-esteem.

Social Impacts



  • Can't afford it in most cases.

  • Some work 24×7, and some collect school fees by working. Face a shortage of time.

  • Unaware of the importance of education .

  • Quality education is inaccessible .

  • Even if admitted to school, attendance and test scores are low.

  • Health.

  • Catch diseases like Asbestosis, Minamata, black foot disease, fungal infections etc.

  • Don't receive proper healthcare.

  • Short lifetime.

  • Lack of proper nourishment.

  • Face greater caloric demand than those who aren't working .

  • Prone to catching diabetes, heart diseases, lung problems and immune disorders.

  • Mental health is affected .

  • Child laborers breed child labourers.

  • Child labour depresses unskilled wages.

Political Impacts


  • Declared as a third-world country.

  • Distorts country's image.

  • Receive criticisms from other nations.

  • Policies get questioned.

  • Shows unreliability on the national.

Concerned Institutions

Intra-National Institutions


  • Non-Governmental Organizations.

  • Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation (KSCF).

  • Child Rights And You (CRY).

  • Save The Children India.

  • CHILDLINE India Foundation.

  • Smile Foundation.

  • Smile Foundation.

  • The Akshaya Patra Foundation.

  • Snehalaya.

  • Katha.

  • Genesis Foundation .

  • Pratham Education Foundation.


  • Movements.

  • Bachpan Bachao Andolan.

  • Bandhua Mukti Morcha.

International Institutions