Child Labor in India: How NGOs Can Make a Difference

Child Labor in India: How NGOs Can Make a Difference

Jan 13, 2022, 9:33:10 AM Opinion

The rising glory of India, albeit unavoidable, is marred various evils, among which child labor and child trafficking stick out glaringly. Before diving into the details of child labor in India and how NGOs working for child labor in India can help in mitigating the situation, let us first look at some definitions of child labor.

Definitions of Child Labor

As per The Child and Adolescent Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 of India, a 'child' is anyone below 14 years. As such, child labor is demarcated as a way of exploiting a child by means of giving them work that divests them of their childhood and dignity and harms their physical and mental health. Various types of work that may inhibit children from going to school, playing, having a carefree time, and compelling them to leave school are deemed child labor.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) defines child labor as work that prevents children from living their childhood. The definition takes into account the following types of work –

  • A task that is mentally, physically, socially, or morally detrimental and dangerous to children.


  • Work that intervenes with children's schooling and deprives them of opportunities to attend school obliges them to leave prematurely or requires them to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy toil.

UNICEF suggests that if a child between the ages of 5 and 11 is engaged in a minimum of one hour of economic activity or 28 hours of domestic work, the subsequent toil is known as child labor. Likewise, for children between the ages of 12 to 14, if they engage in 28 hours of economic work and 42 hours of domestic activity per week, the work is known as child labor.

Child Labor in India:  An Overview

The Census of India, 2011 defines child labor as participation of a child below 17 years in age in any economically productive activity with or without compensation, wages, or profit. The involvement in work could be physical or mental, and the work can be part-time or full-time or even unpaid work in family enterprises. Child labor is a pervasive and rampant problem in India, with 10.1 million children being a part of its exploitative chains. The primordial cause of child labor in India is poverty, which drives a vicious cycle of illiteracy, and then poverty again. Another cause of child labor is the biased attitude towards girls who are forced to work and then get married and thereby are deprived of their childhood.

In India, the exploitative clutches of child labor are ingrained in the economy itself, as studies show that 60 percent of the child labor cohort is involved in agricultural activities. Thus, neatly demarcating work and basic chores at home becomes difficult, especially in legal and legitimate language. 

A report by ILO reveals that 90 percent of the child labor in rural India is because of a lack of functional primary schools. Likewise, the macroeconomic aspects of flaky lows for the unorganized sector of the 

economy also offer space for child labor to increase. In such dire contexts, various government policies and NGOs working for child labor in India come to the rescue. It is noteworthy to mention that an all-encompassing and immediate solution to child labor in India is impossible as the problem is too pervasive ad historically situated. Comprehensive and long-term measures such as providing education to children, widening the scope of the organized sector of the economy, tightening laws around the unorganized sector, removing prejudices, and likewise will help reduce the problem steadily. An attempt at quick-fix can be counterproductive and can further deteriorate the situation.

The Significance of an NGO against Child Labor 

In addition to legal and state interventions, evils such as child labor can be reduced through concerted efforts to deal with the root cause of the problem and spread awareness. Non-governmental organizations play a pivotal role in spreading awareness about the evils of child labor among families and communities that partake in the activity. 

Likewise, they also provide rehabilitation support to children who have been exposed to the brutalities of child labor. Post-rescue care and counseling are an integral part of mitigating the long-term impacts of child labor. Government and Non-government measures at improving the economic conditions of families susceptible to falling into the vicious cycle of child labor are crucial in eradicating the problem from its roots. An NGO against child labor can also help mitigate the problem by exposing mega corporate houses and industries that employ children as workers.

As such, a one-dimensional approach to dealing with child labor is bound for failure. We can stake our hopes on a multi-pronged formula that looks at poverty, illiteracy, institutional and societal biases, economic policies, and global economic forces from a bird's eye view are essential to tackle the nuisance of child labor in India. is an organization working towards eliminating child labor in India, and they have done an incredible job in creating a 'child-friendly' India.

Published by neha naayar

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