Friday, October 20, 2006

Restoring Childhood?

The imposition of recent ban under the Child Labour Act 1986, is not going to do any miracle as in the last eleven decades ,at least two dozen of laws have been passed in India over child labour could not check violations. Functions Act Of 1881 fixed seven years as minimum age limit . Child Labour Act 1938 enhanced age limit to fourteen. ILO wanted it to be eighteen in case of hazardous forms of work. Child labour includes work harmful to physical and mental health, safety and development of the child .1991 census estimated 112 lac full- time and 107 lac part-time child workers in India . Even after half a century of Independence ,right to free education could not be exercised.in its true spirit. HDR(2000) indicated that elementary education is best cure to remove child labour. Immediate needs overshadow long term needs. Families surviving on child earnings would need support. It is said that children should study and not work. But who will teach them? While working as domestic ,office .dhaba or factory –help, they not only bring salary but also get old but useable articles like clothings etc.and other incentives in addition to the total meals. The state may at the maximum can render free education or provide sub-standard mid-day meal only. In the light of the present ban ,if stern measures are taken, the child work-force may simply shift to the homes or may become a prey in the hands of antisocial elements if adequate rehabilitation or supportive facilities are not extended . We should not forget that product of the ban ,the idle girl child labour may be abused and compelled to adopt the path of flesh trade. Firstly it is to be seen how effectively the ban is enforced and then the consequences it emitts will invent the needful.

S. K.Mittal

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