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Child Labor in Industries of India


This essay is a case study analysis.

Topic - "Child labour in industries in INDIA".



Children are widely acknowledged to be the inculcation of hope, happiness and bright future. Progressive future of any nation depends on the prosperous future of the children. As per the census reports, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of child labors in India which is from 11.28 million to 12.59 million (Ansari and Raj,  2015). Child labor is a global phenomenon, which indicates employment of children with or without payment. As far as India is concerned, the issue of child labor is a vicious one. Child labor is often associated with bonded labour, which is the concept of urban child labor. In India industries such as Bedi industries is the primary earning point of the people belonging to the regions like Madhya pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Odisha. In this essay, the major reasons behind engagement of children in child labor are identified and analysed along with its impact upon them and the society. Considering the graveness of the issue, possible steps to control and eliminate the evil practice have also been discussed.

Causes and effect of child labor 

In a developing country like India, children of the underprivileged families are often considered as the instruments of earning. Poverty and the social security are major reasons of child labour. The gap between the economical classes like rich and poor is huge in India. Privatization of the basic services and neo-liberal economic policies serve as catalysts and the major sections of the population are out of employment, which is another reason of the increasing rate of child labour in this country (Bagchi, 2014). The use of child labour has been increased with the entry of multinational corporations into the industry that do not possess proper mechanism. Lack of quality universal education is another reason, which has led to the dropping out of school and enter into the domain of child labor.

Child labor in industries such as Beedi industry

There are many industries where due to lack of thrust it has been impossible to remove child labor from the roots and Beedi industry is one such Industry. Industries like Beedi industry perpetuate the invisibility of the workers who are involved in the industry. For example in such industries children work as a part of the family (Bashir, 2014). As per the recent government reports it has been located that the children are being used in the labelling and packaging of the products while rolling Beedis in their home but such employment is never shown in the official records of such industries and the employers often argue that the children were helping their parents.

Responsible factors

  • Beedi industry and other small scale industries are the major unorganized industries in which the production process is involved with less capital, machinery and labour incentive. These factors opportune these industries to involve children in the labour incentive process and make it highly conducive (Pal and Saha, 2014). 
  • It is an important factor that children are vulnerable beings who are easy to dominate and subjugate. Hence, they are preferred as workers in order to save wages and other financial benefits, as they are not much aware of the legal measures (Ghosh and Nandan, 2015).
  • Ignorance and illiteracy of the parents and large scale family size is another factor that drives the process of child labour. Such factors propel the children to work in cottage industries like Beedi industry.
  • Poverty or the poor economic condition is another driving force against the engagement of children into the industries. The families which are involved in small scale industries are poverty-stricken and their poor economic condition pave the path for the induction of the children in such industry works (Harkness et al, 2015). Therefore, the industry works that do not require any formal training often involves and engages the children in such works.
  • The subcontractors dominate several small-scale industries, these subcontractors pass on the raw materials to the families, and the family members engage the children into manufacturing products like Beedi or firecrackers.
  • In regions like Bihar and Tamil Nadu the system of bonded labor is notably high. The concept of bonded labor is the system in which a child along with his or family goes to a particular owner who provides the family with a specific sum of money. The children are to carry out the works in the premise of the owner in order to repay the amount of money. Generally, the family fails to repay the amount and the vicious cycle of child labor continues.

Over the course of time overpopulation, poverty and illiteracy and debt traps have been some of the common causes that are instrumental to this particular issue. Debt-trapped and overburdened parents fail to understand the importance of childhood and the children have to be engaged into rigorous works in factories and industries.


As per the guidelines of UNICEF child labor has been categorized in three sections:

  • Within the family, which indicates that a child is engaged in the household, works and tasks without any pay.
  • Children working as agricultural laborers, migrant laborers and domestic maids outside the family.
  • Children working in the restaurants and commercial shops.

It is important to understand the consequences of the children who work in the industries as working in the industries connotes several health hazards and other issues that affects the future of the children. In industries and factories, the children often work in a hazardous situation that has adverse effect on their health (James and Manoj, 2014). In such conditions the children work in a completely unregulated manner and they often work without proper and adequate food and also deprived of proper wage. As per the Government, reports in India there are several cases of physical and mental abuse of the child workers. Child labour has been a complex rural problem but the issue has reached the urban shore as well. Children working as factory laborers are often fall prey to child trafficking and are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation. Working in dangerous and unhealthy conditions often lead to hazardous child labor. Because of such condition, the child labor is often subjected to severe health injuries that leads to permanent disability and are killed sometimes. In manufacturing and service industries children often work in dangerous conditions and worldwide as per the ILO reports near about 22,000 children are killed every year due to hazardous industry works.

Educational deprivation

One of the primary impacts of child labor is that a child is deprived of his or her required and necessary education. Their involvement in the factory and industry works often creates educational deprivation (James and Manoj, 2014). In return, of a small amount of money the workers are deprived of the primary education, which adversely affects the future of the children. As the children are the backbone of the society, it ultimately affects the sustainable development of the society and the bright future of the children.

Health hazards

One of the major hardships that is encountered by the children and they are exposed to hazardous conditions. The health hazards lead to certain occupational diseases like T.B and lung cancer. For example, the beedi rollers experience health issues like severe asthma, anemia, postural, vision problem along with giddiness.

The negative impact on both the physiological and the psychological levels of the children and they are exposed to hazardous factors elucidated socio economic factors as one of the significant determinants (Ghosh and Nandan, 2015). Mental wellbeing which is one of the most important aspects of child labor study retrospect that the children working in the factories are often fall prey to severe depression as far as the physical health is concerned in the handicraft sector the children often suffer from respiratory problems, digestive and skin issues and are often subjected to migraines, irritability, insomnia, asthenia and enuresis (Ghosh and Nandan, 2015). Compared to the non-working school children, the children who work in the industries and factories have poor health and are predominantly marked with skin lesions and often require social care needs.

The researchers working with the issue have deliberated the social consequences of child labor but the mental health of the children have not been explored much. In countries like India children who lack education and often grow up in challenging conditions, lack mental stability and health. 

Laws and regulation against the practice 

Nineteenth century was the first time when the first law against child labor was made. The nascent children's right protection movement was held and was view that the children were economic assets and quasi property (Nogler and Pertile, 2016). This effort was a success when laws were passed the child labor system was regulated and compulsory education was mandatory. It also raised awareness of children's issues which lead to the the establishment of juvenile court. The next children's right occurred in 1970 where the children were victims of discrimination and or as a oppressed group. There are various laws, which have been made for the child labourers, and its main reason is to protect the children from the daily nine to ten hours of work in local stores or markets and also making them pick up heavy loads in return offering very less money.  According to Article 24, no child below the age of 14 shall be employed to work in any factory or in any hazardous environment. As per Article 39, you childhood and youth are to be protected against moral and exploitation (Paul,  2016)

Article 45 states that the state will bare all the expenses and cost of education until the age of ten. The factory act of 1948 prohibits child to work in factories under the age of 14. There are multiple laws made to protect the children against the merciless.  Efforts cannot only be put forward from the government the common people should also take stand to end this act. Every child like to have fun, play around and live free they are not meant to work in factories and markets as cheap laborers. The state makes a lot of effort each year to bring out those who suffer in this type of situation and they are completely helpless. The only way to stop child labor is to educate people and make them understand how and why it is wrong in the society so that these does not come up in the years coming ahead of us (Humphries , 2013). No rule can make these act to an end if the people decides to carry on the system of child labor forever it will go on forever after. 

The mines act of 1952 refers to the prohibition of employment of children below 18.  Despite of so many laws and rules they are not being properly back by enforcements. In the years coming there are new laws coming up to diminish the role of child labour. It is a mission to give back the children their rights who are stuck under the paws of giant industries and factories working day and night without any hope. Now with a little hope everyone can hope that child labour will come to an end very soon and mostly everyone will follow the orders of the Government and stop making children work in their factories and mines. 

Control and elimination 

Countries, which are developing, have been found to suffer from poverty and helplessness more in comparison to developed countries. Child labor has become a serious issue post independence which prevails even today and needs to be eliminated at the soonest. Overpopulation, illiteracy and poverty are the main factors responsible for child labor. They Are not only limited to India but is a global phenomenon. Not only are they barred from attaining education but also their basic rights to live in a healthy manner are taken away (Cho, Fang et al, 2016). In India, employment of children in agriculture and factories are a common site. Besides getting a cheap labor, the employers also use children for labor in small work businesses. The Children in India either works on a vicious cycle for supporting their families from a very young age on the factories, industries and in agriculture sectors or become victims of bonded laborers which is a very common form of exploitation. Bonded labor is linked closely with urban child labor where the street children are chosen and made to work as laborers while spending their entire lives on the streets. 

Child labor can also be linked to human trafficking where the small children may fall victims to prostitution or other dangerous activities where they are badly exploited (De Hoop and Rosati, 2014). The employment of children’s Act of 1938 was enacted to prohibit child labour in India. However, it failed to meet its goals since the Act never addressed poverty which is one of the main causes of driving children into forced labor. Under article 24, the constitution passed certain laws to prohibit child labor under the age of 14 years of age under any conditions. Other than this, Article 21-A also states that the state should provide infrastructure and resources for free and compulsory education to children from age 6 to 14 years. Several other laws were enacted for the protection of children from child labor. The Factory’s Act of 1948 prevented any form of employment of children in any factory. The Mine’s Act of 1952 restricted children to work under 18 years of age in any mine. The Prohibition and Regulation of Child labor Act of 1986 prevented the employment of children under 14 years to be allowed to work in any life- threatening occupations identified in their list of laws. Lastly, the care and protection of Children’s Act of 2000 made the working of children a punishable offence (Papania,Wallace et al, 2014). However, the paradox in all these made up laws is that no efforts are ever made for improving the working conditions of children and even today, child labor is still practiced and these laws are going vague. The government should put more stress on the fact that violating these laws should means the denial of basic human rights and demeaning their childhood. 

The unorganized sector still fails to reach the implementation of the laws and only 10 percent of the working children are covered. Families who are poor, fail to obey these laws specially because due to their huge concentration of family members every single member needs to work including the small children, to feed everyone. The Act also fails to classify the proper definition of a hazardous work and only restricts their list to factories and some other processes which makes it difficult for the children to understand the true meaning of hazardous in every field. In order to eliminate child labor by spreading awareness related to child labor and other global issues, another Act has been made which is the International Program on The Elimination of Child Labor(IPECL). India became the first country ever to sign MOU with IPECL to help combat child labor. National Labor Project (NLCP) is one of the most important plans implemented within the whole country in which seven child seven child labor projects got set up in 1988. One of the main policies adopted was Rehabilitation adopted by the government of the country to reduce all the incidents related to child labor in India. Varied reasons have resulted in their failure to achieve the goals of maintaining a constant safeguard for the children due to lack of birth proofs and other fake identity proofs. Increase in population has also resulted in an imbalance in the profile check of all people. Thus further strict awareness programs need to be organized to make the people aware of their duties and roles in the society for protecting the rights of all children and fulfilling their basic needs (Humphries, 2013).

Eliminating child labor is a massive problem which needs to be fixed which would further help in eradicating poverty by making all the children educated enough to get better jobs in future. Certain steps need to be taken in order to achieve this such as abolition of child trafficking, eliminating poverty from all regions, providing free and compulsory education to all children up to 14 years of age and improving the basic standards of living for all. The government should take steps to provide funds to all the people suffering from poverty.  The international Monetary Fund and the World Bank should take steps to provide funds to all poverty stricken countries. There should be a strict implementation of labor laws implemented in order to prevent exploitation of parties or other multinational groups (Baum and Ruhm, 2016). The government should make a number of firm amendments in the existing child labor prohibition law for implementing strict rules to control the existing condition. The already existing law which allows children compulsory education up to 14 years of age should be increased to 18 years so that every child can complete their schooling in an organized manner. The list, which consists of a certain group of occupations confirmed to be hazardous for children to pursue, should also include some other occupations as well which are found to cause detrimental health issues for children. Children and their families should become aware of all the rules and regulations and protect their child in all ways possible. No family should pressurize their children for work in such an early age and make sure to provide them their basic rights of education to make a better future for them.


In the light of the above study, it is evident that the evil practice of child labor not only hampers the future of the children, it also adversely affect the prosperity of a nation. It is important to abolish it from the grassroots level in order to ensure sustainable development of the human resource of this country. Therefore, it is important to implement some policies that can ensure proper education to the children and also the already involved child laborers need to have required health amenity and security. It is important to mention that in order to eradicate the social evil NCPCR has participated to remove the obstacles that hinder the process of children development. National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has also promoted the right to education in order to emphasize on the better livelihood of t5he children in future. 

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