Has State done enough to eradicate child labour?

Has State done enough to eradicate child labour?

Major changes to bring down rate of underage being employed

Tomorrow’s citizen: A child labourer working at a tea stall, in Mysore. Dh photo by prashanth h g

But, have the successive Governments really succeeded in at least cutting down the percentage of child labourers is a big question.

As the state labour department gives final touches to the Revised Action Plan for the Prevention or of Child Labour, the state is ready to bring major changes to the child labour eradication plan.

Revised plan submitted

“The department has submitted the revised plan to the Government for approval. The Government has sought some clarifications and changes in the plan, which is being reworked now,” Gurudas Bhat, Additional Commissioner who is also Incharge Labour Commissioner told Deccan Herald.

Though, the Government is in the process of revising the action plan as per the understanding between the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which is funding the programme; the state is yet to conduct a systematic survey on the number of children employed as labourers across the state.

The ILO insists on a survey to establish a web-based child labour tracking system.

‘No authentic data’

Suchitra, coordinator for Child Protection Unit of the department of women and child welfare, a body which is supported by UNICEF says the state has never come out with authentic data on child labourers.

“There is absolutely no statistics or data. There is also very minimal enforcement of the Child Labour Prohibition and Enforcement Act. Government has identified 15 vulnerable districts where migrant population and child labour population is high. Most of the districts fall in North Karnataka and parts of state where school dropouts are more and literacy rate is low,” she says.

Basavaraj R, Head, Research and Advocacy, Vivekananda Institute of Leadership Development (VILD) who coordinated the process of revision of action plan told this newspaper that Karnataka has about 8.2 lakh child labour population as per a report compiled from 2001 census and occupied  seventh place in the country in having highest number of child labourers. But, a National Sample Survey report published in 2004-05 puts the number of child labourers in state at 5.71 lakh, he observes. There is also ambiguity in the Act itself. If the Juvenile Justice Act fixes the age limit as 18 years, the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation Act) limits the age to 14 years.

No uniform survey

“There is no uniform survey conducted so far to identify number of child labourers. All the statistics are based on the census report, the school drop out rates and compilation of other factors,” adds Basavaraj.

“A mere infrastructure development for offices will not help. Some concrete work must happen to develop the human development index in education and nutrition. A child will be into labour only when he is out of school or education. We must give the children a happy childhood,” he opines.  

The ILO’s World Conference on Child Labour held at Hague (Netherlands) in 2010 observes that success rate of child labour eradication was mere 3 per cent globally between the years 2004-2008.

There was a 10 per cent decline in children in the age group of 5-14 years being victimised. While, the conference observed that there was a 20 per cent increase in child labourers in the age group of 15-17 years.

About 14 per cent of children population in India are in labour sector, it said.

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