Child Labor And Forced Labor

The two most serious problems in India are child labor and forced labor, both of which continue to be very difficult for the economic and social development of the country. Numerous laws and policies have been put in place by the Indian government to stop these practices, but millions of children and adults are still subjected to various forms of child and forced labor all over the country. Both child labour and forced labour are regarded as serious violations of human rights and are prohibited in most nations.

Meaning of Child labour

The term "child labour" refers to any work done by children that deprives them of their childhood, prevents their education, or is harmful to their physical or mental health. According to a report by the International Labor Organization (ILO), there were 10.1 million child laborers in India between the ages of 5 and 17 in 2020. In India, child labour is common in a number of industries, including manufacturing, construction, domestic work, and street vending. Many children work, with long hours, low pay, no access to healthcare or social protection, and hazardous and exploitative working conditions. Children who work in hazardous industries are vulnerable to malnutrition, physical or emotional distress, and exposure to highly toxic materials.

Causes of Child Labor

  • The main causes of child labor in India are poverty, lack of access to education, social and cultural norms that view children as a source of cheap labor, and ineffective enforcement of the law.

  • Poverty is a major contributing factor to child labor, as many families are compelled to take their children to work in order to supplement their income because they are unable to meet their basic needs.

  • Children may be made to work in order to support themselves if they are orphaned or abandoned, or to supplement their family's income. Children who live in rural areas, who belong to minority groups, who are disabled, or who are displaced are particularly vulnerable to child labor.

Consequences of Child Labor

The consequences of child labor can be severe and long-lasting. Children who work might not have access to an education, good nutrition, or even the most basic medical care, which could harm their growth both physically and mentally. They may suffer from psychological, sexual, or physical abuse. Working as a child denies children the right to an education, resulting in illiteracy and limited future opportunities. Further, it deprives them of their childhood and continues the cycle of poverty.

Efforts taken by the government to tackle child labour

One of the laws and policies implemented by the Indian government to eradicate child labour is the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986, which regulates the working conditions of children between the ages of 14 and 18 and explicitly prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 in certain occupations.

The National Child Labour Project (NCLP) was also started in order to rescue and rehabilitate child labourers, offer education and vocational training, and spread awareness about child labour. Despite these initiatives, child labour is still common in many parts of the country because laws and policies are not always followed.

Forced Labor

Forced labor is defined as work that is done against the will of the worker or under threat of punishment, and the worker is not allowed to leave or object to the work. It is often associated with debt bondage, where workers are forced to work to repay a debt but are never able to fully repay it. Forced labor is commonly used in a variety of industries, including agriculture, brick kilns, construction, and domestic work. Vulnerable groups, such as migrant workers, women, and children, are particularly vulnerable to forced labor. These groups are frequently recruited for work under the guise of high wages and favorable working conditions, only to be coerced into debt bondage or other forms of exploitation.

Causes of Forced Labor

Forced labor can occur in a variety of settings, including factories, farms, mines, and domestic work. It is frequently caused by poverty, a lack of access to education, and insufficient labor protections because of their low socioeconomic status. It is also linked to human trafficking, debt bondage, and other forms of exploitation.

Consequences of Forced Labor

Forced labor in India can have serious and long-term consequences. Forced workers may be subjected to hazardous and abusive working conditions, as well as being denied adequate pay, rest, and time off. For victims, leaving their circumstances may be challenging due to fear, isolation, and a lack of resources. They might also experience physical and psychological abuse, and they might be unable to leave or find other employment, which would keep the cycle of exploitation continuing.

Efforts taken by the Government to Tackle Forced Labor

The Indian government has taken steps to address forced labor, such as enacting laws and establishing institutions to monitor and enforce labor standards compliance. It enacted the Bonded Labor System (Abolition) Act of 1976 and the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act of 1956. However, implementation and enforcement of these laws continue to be difficult, and many cases of forced labor go unreported, while efforts to combat it are frequently hampered by a lack of resources, corruption, and ineffective enforcement mechanisms.


Child labor and forced labor are major issues in India that affect millions of people. While the government has taken steps to address these issues, more needs to be done to protect children from exploitation and eliminate forced labor from all sectors of the economy. Some of the steps that can be taken to combat these practices include education and awareness campaigns, stricter enforcement of laws, and increased penalties for violators.


Q1. What does child labor define?

Ans. A child is considered to be a victim of child labor when they engage in work that is detrimental to their mental, physical, social, or moral development or interferes with their ability to attend school.

Q2. What is forced labor?

Ans. When someone is forced to perform work or provide a service against their will, either through force, fraud, or coercion, that is considered forced labor.

Q3. What is the age limit of child labor in India?

Ans. Article 24 prohibits the employment of children in factories, etc. Children under the age of 14 are not allowed to work in factories, mines, or any other hazardous employment.

Q4. What is the policy of the Indian government to tackle Child Labour?

Ans. The action plan for addressing the issue of child labor is contained in the National Policy on Child Labor, which was declared in August 1987.

Updated on: 11-Apr-2023


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