Skip to main content

Gujarat has nearly 4.2 lakh child workers, one of the highest in India, up from 3.9 lakh in 2004-05

By Rajiv Shah
Latest information, calculated on the basis of the worker-population ratio (WPR) provided by the top statistical collection body of the Government of India, National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), has revealed that Gujarat has nearly 4.2 lakh child workers – 3.18 lakh in the rural areas and a little above 1 lakh in the urban areas. The calculation is based on the NSSO’s revelation in its latest report, “Employment and Unemployment Situation in India, 2011-12”, released in January 2014. It points towards the fact that Gujarat has 2.2 per cent child workers in the urban areas and 4.3 per cent child workers in the rural areas in the age-group 5-14, which happens to be one of the highest in India.
What should be of particular concern for the state’s powerful policy makers is that the percentage of child workers in Gujarat is higher than 20 major most Indian states, except Jharkhand (6.7 per cent), in the rural areas. As for urban areas, only three states have higher percent of child workers than Gujarat – West Bengal (12.6 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (4.4 per cent) and Odisha (4.1 per cent). A high proportion of child labourers should mean failure of the state government’s efforts to ensure universal primary education, on one hand, and inability to implement government policies to overcome poverty and underemployment, on the other.
The states which have higher number of child workers than Gujarat (both in urban and rural areas) are – Uttar Pradesh (28.83 lakh), Bihar (11.22 lakh), West Bengal (10.47 lakh), Jharkhand (4.75 lakh) and Andhra Pradesh (4.5 lakh). It is not without significant that the states which are good performers in overall social indictors have very few child workers. Thus, if calculations based on NSSO figures are to be taken into account, Himachal Pradesh has the lowest number of child workers, just about 4,500, followed by Kerala, about 16,000. There is no explanation either in the NSSO report, or elsewhere, as to why Gujarat, being sold as the model state all over India, has so many child workers.
Official Gujarat government sources give a very sketchy picture of child workers in Gujarat. The Labour Commissioner’s office has quoted the NSSO report of 2004-05 to say that “the total child labour in Gujarat State 3,99,820, out of which 86,130 lived in urban area and 3,13,700 lived in rural area.” It claimed, “From the data it is evident that Gujarat is on 10th rank on the basis of total number of child labour” (click HERE to see details). Clearly, ever since the 2004-05 survey, Gujarat has drastically slipped in child labour. Not only the numbers have gone up compared to most Indian states, the ranking has slipped to the sixth highest number of child workers compared to 20 major states.
The state government admits that “child labour occurs when children under the age of 14 are used to do labour. Children are usually forced to do adult work to help provide for their families. The working conditions are poor and children usually suffer physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. They work long hours every day and are unable to attend school, which is their fundamental right”. It adds, Poverty forces parents to send their children to even hazardous jobs. Although they know it is wrong, they have no other alternatives as they need money. Poor parents are compelled by their circumstances to put their child to work.”
It also agrees, “In spite of the Constitutional and legal provisions, child labour is bitter truth in Gujarat”, but claims, “On the other hand, it is truth that trend of child labour in Gujarat is decline since 1981”, something which is not proving to be correct. It agrees, “The motto of the state government is not fulfilled in elimination of child labour. It is recognized that elimination of child labour needs multi-pronged strategy. Child labour cannot be viewed in isolation because it is a cause and consequence of the country’s socio-economic and political reality. Examples have proved that child labour can be over-come with a clear political vision and plans of action."
---

Comments

TRENDING

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

WHO move can 'enable' India to detain citizens, restrict freedom, control media

Counterview Desk  In an an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with copies to concerned Cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and MPs,  health rights network  People’s Alliance for Public Health (PAPH alias JanSwasthya Morcha), has urged that India should not be a signatory to the World Health Organization ( WHO) Pandemic Agreement and Amendments to the  International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005  to be adopted at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva from 27th May to 1st June, 2024.

'Enough evidence': Covid vaccines impacted women's reproductive health

By Deepika*  In 2024, the news outlets have suddenly started reporting about covid vaccine side effects in a very extensive manner. Sadly, the damage is already done.

Can scientists believe in God, yet explore nature 'abandoning' belief?

By Dr TV Sajeev*  In August 2023, India celebrated the successful soft-landing of Chandrayan on the south pole of the moon. That mission too led to some questioning about whether scientists could believe in God. The culture of temple visits and poojas before the launch of rockets with or without payload had been a mocking point for a long while. 

Growing stream of pollution infecting homes, bodies in US, Vietnam

By Erica Cirino*  Louisiana’s “River Parishes,” located along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, shoulder some of the worst industry impacts in the United States. As a result, this region has acquired a grim reputation as “ Cancer Alley .” 

'Uncertainty in Iran': Raisi brokered crucial Chabahar Port deal with India

By Pranjal Pandey*  Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian President, and the country’s foreign minister were tragically found deceased on May 20, 2024, shortly after their helicopter crashed in foggy conditions. In response, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei swiftly appointed a relatively unknown vice president as the interim leader.

Informal, outdoor workers 'excluded': Govt of India's excessive heat policies

Counterview Desk  Top civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), has demanded urgent government action to protect millions of outdoor workers from extreme heat and heatwaves, insisting declaration of heatwaves as climatic disaster.