Though India has ratified two fundamental global conventions on combating child labour which International Labour Organisation (ILO) describing it as a “positive step” on the country’s path towards full respect for fundamental rights at work. The ratification of the two ILO Conventions reaffirms India’s “commitment to a child labour-free society”. Walk on the streets of Jammu or for that matter any other Indian city the scenario is no different. Child labour is the cheapest labour force available because of the economical compulsion. From industrial sector to domestic the wide plethora of employment avenue has large scale child labour engaged. Generally, working children in the five to 14 years age group are classified as child labourers. Underage children are employed in hazardous and non-hazardous industries. In May 2015, the Indian Government passed a controversial Bill regarding child labour. The Amended ‘Child Labour Act’ permits children to work in family owned non-hazardous enterprises. In July 2016, India again amended the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986, paving way for juveniles aged below 14 years to work in specific jobs only. Child labour exists in India for several reasons. The biggest causes of child labour has been identified as poverty. Families with scant resources force underage children to work. In fact, birth control remains taboo among many Indian cultures. Sadly, some families believe, more children means higher income. Ironically, these communities consider it normal for teenagers to marry and procreate at puberty. Lack of education is yet another cause of child labour. Parents cannot afford to educate children and force them to work. One can see children working in factories, hotels, Dhabas, commercial complexes and other hazardous places. Despite many welfare schemes like mid-day meal, free books, financial assistances, the drop-out rate of students are high in rural areas. How serious are the efforts put in by the Labour Department to eradicate the menace can be gauged by the fact that not a single holistic survey has been conducted so far to ascertain the quantum of child labour in Jammu and Kashmir. Moreover, there is no proper data management of cases detected during the inspection or the cases in which the department filed Challans in Courts. This lackadaisical attitude of the concerned agencies is a matter of great concern and there is a need to eradicate this social problem at the earliest.
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