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Shvoong Home>Books>Socio-Economic profile of child labour in a developing economy Review

Socio-Economic profile of child labour in a developing economy

Book Review   by:mayamma     Original Authors: B. K. Sharma M.A; M.Phil; Ph.D; LLB.
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Child labour is a global phenomenon. In the developing countries children work for subsistence whereas in the developed ones they work for pocket money. One of the unique characteristic of child labour is that employers consider it as source of cheap labour and measures of quick profits. Employees prefer children because they can be paid less and exploited more. Low wages paid to the children give them a competitive advantage not only in the national market but also in the international market. In the rural where the children of marginal farmers and landless labours are generally found to be working in various agricultural operations right from their early childhood. They work as helpers during sowing, harvesting and threshing operations. Children from the families with little or no land are more likely to be in the labour market. There is positive relationship between the schooling of the child and age of entry in the employment. Child labour not only deprives the working children of the basic schooling and vocational training but also forces them into the ranks of unskilled workers who have to receive low wages throughout the working life. From the employers point of view child labour is not only a cheap source of labour supply. A study has found that the producers would like to stop production rather than hire adult workers because of great reduction in profits. While it is impossible to quote a single figure for the extend of child labour in the world, it is clear that the number of children working worldwide runs into hundreds of million. ILO – estimated 52 million working children in the world during 1979. Overwhelming majority of the working children (50.9 million) was from the developing countries with Asia having a leading share (38.1 million). In Asia, however South East Asia alone having a major chunk of child labour force (29 million). In India the extend of child labour is not as large as in Turkey, Thailand, Bangladesh, Brazil, Pakistan, Indonesia, Mexico & Egypt. It is estimated that 5.2% of the total labour force in India as against 27.3% in Turkey, 20.7% in Thailand, 19.5% in Bangladesh, 18.8% in Brazil, 16.6% in Pakistan, 12.4% in Indonesia, 11.5% in Mexico and 8.2% in Egypt. In India as elsewhere, no proper estimates of child labour are available. However according to ILO, India contributes to about a 3rd of Asia’s Child Labour and a 4th of World working children. India has the largest number of working children in the World (between 60 to 115 million). More recently in 1997 UNICEF estimated “child labours in India as 73 million of whom 15 million are said to be bonded and stated that the condition of 70.6 million in the age group of 5 - 14 years who had not gone to school was not known. Child labour has been a way of life in India. In the earlier days grazing and looking after cattle and other domestic animals were always considered as the work of the rural childrens especially boys. Urbanization and increasing poverty of the rural population compelled many rural families to migrate to cities. Children belonging to these families started taking up work as assistant in shops and establishment, hotels and restaurants and small scale workshops. Exploitation of the children is not a new phenomenon. It existed in India even prior to independence. Subsequently effort was made to prevent abuses of child labour by legislation. But it remind mostly un-implemented. Causes of child labour 1) Although multifarious causes are responsible for a wide spread of child labour in the developing countries, the extreme poverty of the household is the main cause. 2) Another important cause of child labour is thewidespread unemployment among the adults from the lower income strata of population. Besides inadequate, irregular or no family income is also responsible for child labour. UNICEF has evolved criteria for child labour exploitation. 1) Full time work at too early an age 2) Too may hours spent working 3) Work that exerts under physical, social or psycho-logical stress. 4) Work and left on the streets in bad condition 5) Inadequate pay 6) Too much responsibility 7) Work that hampers access to education. 8) Work that undermines childrens dignity and self esteem such as slavery or bonded labour and sexual exploitation. 9) Work that is detrimental to full social and psychological development ‘Article 24 of the constitution provides no child below the age of 14 should be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any hazardous employment’. As part of broader efforts to accelerate progress against child labour the International Lbour Organization (ILO), UNICEF, and the World Bank initiated the inter agency research project "Understanding Children's Work" (UCW) in December 2000. (http://www.ucw-project.org)
Conclusion: The problem of child labour can hardly be eradicated by the constitutional provisions and legislations alone because the poverty of the households further induces the phenomenon of child labour. So attempts should also be made to identify the household below the poverty line. Special programmes should be initiated to provide the basic human needs such as food, shelter, clothing and free education facilities to such households.
Published: October 20, 2007   
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