According to a survey made by the International Labour Organisation, India has the distinction of having the largest child labour force in the world. These children aged 5 to 14 are engaged in various works in India.
The Indian Constitution prohibits employment of children before 14 years of age, but this injunction is more violated than honoured.
Two obvious factors have created this condition in India:
(i) our grinding poverty which compels the parents to drive their children to work and
(ii) the desire for cheap labour on the part of the employers. They later very often exploit the children employed by paying them low remuneration extracing from them at times as much work as from an adult worker.
What is more the children cannot get unionised or protest and afford to loose their jobs. They are also easily disciplined. So one can find tiny children working in way-side eating houses, tea stalls, motor vehicles repair shops and elsewhere for more than 12 hours a day.
Childhood is a term which does not apply to many Indian children today. Of course, forbidding child labour by law when that could cause the child and his parents go hungry would neither be kind nor common sense.
There is no doubt, a wider consciouness of the evils of child labor in the country. There should be free and compulsory education upto 8th standard with adequate medical care and supplementary nutrition for boys and girls. The NGOs and all others concerned should take initiatives to put an end to this social malady.