into their innocent eyes,
you see the scars; hear the cries.
hands that were meant to play,
never again, see the light of day.
soul is torn, broken and crying,
and see; our future is dying.”  ~ Anon
India has come a long way from 1947 with
the abolition of child labor, access to compulsory education for children,
abolition of child marriages, juvenile justice act and so on. But unfortunately
the fight against the evils of the society was never so easy. India is infamous
for having multiple acts but no implementation. In the remote parts of states
like Haryana etc, the Khap panchayats make a mockery of the rule of law. In a
vast country like India, enforcement was never supposed to be easy, but the
complete disregard with which the executive agencies let the law of the land be
violated is shocking.  The Right to
Education act received a lot of applause initially, but the loopholes in it are
glaring. Child Labor Abolition Act, was initially enacted in the year of 1986
but the problem still persists.
It is true that, India
has made some significant commitments towards ensuring the basic rights of
children. There has been progress in overall indicators: infant mortality rates
are down, child survival is up, literacy rates have improved and school dropout
rates have fallen. But the issue of child rights in India is still caught
between legal and policy commitments to children on the one hand, and the
fallout of the process of globalisation on the other. The negative fallout is
visible: children are being deprived of even the scarce social benefits once
available; they are displaced by forced and economic migration, increasing the
number of children subsisting on the streets; more and more children are being
trafficked within and across borders; and rising numbers of children are
engaged in part- or full-time labour.
Even with the numerous legislations to protect childrens
interests the ground realities are staggeringly bad;
Ø  With more than one-third of its
population below 18 years, India has the largest young population in the world.
Ø  Only 35% of births are registered,
impacting name and nationality.
Ø  One out of 16 children die before
they attain the age of 1, and one out of 11 die before they are 5 years old.
Ø  35% of the developing world’s
low-birth-weight babies are born in India.
Ø  40% of child malnutrition in the
developing world is in India.
Ø  The declining number of girls in the
0-6 age-group is cause for alarm. For every 1,000 boys there are only 927
females — even less in some places.
Ø  Out of every 100 children, 19
continue to be out of school.
Ø  Of every 100 children who enrol, 70
drop out by the time they reach the secondary level.
Ø  Of every 100 children who drop out
of school, 66 are girls.
Ø  65% of girls in India are married by
the age of 18 and become mothers soon after.
Ø  India is home to the highest number
of child labourers in the world.
Ø  India has the world’s largest number
of sexually abused children, with a child below 16 raped every 155th minute, a
child below 10 every 13th hour, and at least one in every 10 children sexually
abused at any point in time.
labour and right to education: A contradiction
has the highest number of child labourers in the world.
Census reports clearly point to an
increase in the number of child labourers in the country, from 11.28 million in
1991 to 12.59 million in 2001. (12)
Reports from the M V Foundation in
Andhra Pradesh reveal that nearly 400,000 children, mostly girls between 7 and
14 years of age, toil for 14-16 hours a day in cotton seed production across
the country. Ninety percent of them are employed in Andhra Pradesh alone. (13)
According to Yamina de Laet of the International Chemical, Energy and Mine
Workers’ federation (ICEM), children aged 6-14 years represent 40% of the
labour force in the precious-stone-cutting sector. (14)
Rescue operations in Mumbai and
Delhi in 2005-2006 highlight the employment of children in zari and embroidery
Although the number of children
employed in the agricultural sector, in domestic work, roadside restaurants,
sweetmeat shops, automobile mechanic units, rice mills, Indian Made Foreign
Liquor (IMFL) outlets and most such sectors considered to be ‘non-hazardous’ is
unknown, there is ample evidence to suggest that more and more children are
entering the labour force and are being exploited by their employers.
existing law on child labour that allows children to work in occupations that
are not part of the schedule of occupations that are considered harmful to
children contradicts the right of every child to free and compulsory education.
And yet no attempt is made to resolve this contradiction. How can children be
at work and at school at the same time? Surely this means that any attempt to
give them access to education will be second-rate, parallel non-formal
2001 reports that 2.19 crore (2.13%) of the total population of the country are
persons living with disability, and that 1.67% of the total population within
the age-group 0-19 years (46,38,26,702) are disabled Of all persons living with
disability, 35.9% are children and young adults in the 0-19 age-group. Three
out of five disabled children in the age-group 0-9 years are reported to be
visually impaired. Movement disability has the highest proportion (33.2%) in
the 10-19 age-group. This is largely true of ‘mental’ disability also. (15)
Barely 50% of disabled children
reportedly reach adulthood, and no more than 20% survive to cross the fourth
decade of life. (16) Although there is very little information regarding the
nutritional status of children with disabilities, disabled children living in
poverty are among the most deprived in the world. Those who suffer mental
disorders are much worse off, as there is still very little recognition of the
Poor enforcement of the Persons With
Disabilities Act and the Mental Health Act means that disabled people in India
continue to be discriminated against in terms of access to basic services and
opportunities. There are few special services for disabled children. Pediatrics
wards at government hospitals are incapable of dealing with children with
disabilities, particularly in terms of infrastructure and resources.
will be completely untrue and baseless to comment that the respective
Governments were uninterested or useless when it came to protecting the rights
of children. But the fact remains that no Government on its own can complete
have a herculean task. The combination of social, political and economic will
is required to make sure that the future of India remains bright.

Reference- Alternate
Report by Asian Center For Human Rights.

Author- Sourya Banerjee
             Faculty of Law,
             IFHE, Hyderabad

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