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India: The earning years of childhood

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by IDWFED published Apr 06, 2013 12:00 AM
Fifty bonded child labourers rescued from Gunny bag factories. Two minor domestic workers saved, but in bad shape. When such news headlines hog the media spotlight, there is a slight stir in the collective conscience of the people. But in Bangalore, like many other cities, we have all seen them serving us, be it in a hotel, a garage or a construction site.

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Read the original article in full: The earning years of childhood | The New Indian Express

Fifty bonded child labourers rescued from Gunny bag factories. Two minor domestic workers saved, but in bad shape.

When such news headlines hog the media spotlight, there is a slight stir in the collective conscience of the people.  But in Bangalore, like many other cities, we have all seen them serving us, be it in a hotel, a garage or a construction site.

Bangalore is home to two lakh child labourers as per the ballpark field estimate by NGOs and activists. Every single day, 18 missing children arrive at the Majestic railway station alone, points out a recent study done by a city based NGO.

Nagashima, a vocal voice on child rights in the city and also convener of Campaign Against Child Labour- Karnataka said, “If this is the data coming from one railway station, imagine what we are missing?”

Officially the state government maintains that in Karnataka, there are only 85,000 children-out-of-school. As per the operational definition, children-out-of-school are treated as child labourers. But activists and NGOs who are involved in rescue of child labourers completely disagree with the skewed figures.

Rakesh Senger, spokesperson from Bachpan Bachao Andolan, an NGO said, “The child labour employed in the visible sector, which include shops, hotels and street vendors in Bangalore city itself could be close to a lakh. While in invisible sectors like domestic, garment, bag factories, zardosi industry, quarries and brick klins, another lakh may be employed.”

Most child labour employed in the city are migrants from states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand, West Bengal and also from parts of North Karnataka, where poverty, family situations and lack of livelihood opportunities push this children into the labour market.

About 80 per cent of children in the city are employed as domestic help, followed by brink kilns, construction industries, bag factories, incense factories, garments, small scale industries (cap, shoe, key and jewellery making), garage shops, hotels and road side eateries, petty shops and juice shops.

The major hot spots of child labour in the city are K.R.Market, Peenya Industrial Area, Rajaji Nagar, Tannery Road, Shivaji Nagar, Mysore Road, Laggere, Kanakapura, whitefiled and Koramangala.

The official lethargy

Though India had earned its dubious distinction of being the country with the world’s largest number of child labour, the official response to deal with the situation has rather been sordid, activists point out.

When asked to respond to the situation of child labour in the city, Sasikala Shetty, Director of Integrated Child Protection Scheme, the nodal programme for the protection of child against labour said , “I am on leave and I don’t want to comment on it.”

Such is the attitude of an authority

While the Karanataka government’s action plan for the eradication of child labour in the state had extended its deadline from 2012 to 2020, Mathew Philip, executive director of South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring said, “As per the RTE Act, the government should provide education to children up to 14 years of age. If the Karnataka government had extended its commitment to eradicate child labour in the state to 2020, this also clearly shows their lack of commitment towards the implementation of RTE in the state.”

Who is a child in India?

In 1992, India became a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), a commitment to uphold the rights of children and to advocate for the cause of the child.

“Twenty years have passed but the Indian government has not been able to decide, who is a child,” exasperated Nagashima.


Source: Sangeetha Neeraja/The New Indian Express

Story Type: News

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