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28 Million Children in India, in the age-group 5-14, are engaged in work

As per the UNICEF Report on Situation of Children in India - Article 32 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes the right of children to be protected from economic exploitation, from performing any work that is hazardous, interferes with their education, or is harmful to their health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. The Government of India continues to maintain its declaration made to Article 32 at the time of ratification to progressively implement the provisions of the article in accordance with its national legislation and international instruments to which it is a State Party. In India an estimated 28 million children in the age-group 5-14 are engaged in work.

This is based on the following definition used by :

-  Age 5–11 years: At least 1 hour of economic work or 28 hours of domestic work per week.

-  Age 12–14 years: At least 14 hours of economic work or 28 hours of domestic work per week.

According to the Census 2001, only five percent children were estimated to be working. However, the Census definition considered last one year as reference period, even if a child was engaged for one day of economic activity, which included work for family business and farm. This did not include any household chores. Among the major states, Gujarat has the highest proportion of children working (32 per cent) followed by Rajasthan (20 per cent). Kerala has only three per cent of children reported to be working. While there is no difference in work participation rates between boys and girls, the rate in rural areas (13 per cent) is significantly higher than that in urban areas (9 per cent).

The work participation rate increases with age and at all ages, girls are more likely to be involved in household chores or family work. Children from the poorer households are more likely to get engaged in work. A child belonging to a Scheduled Tribes household is more likely to work than a child from a household in Other category. The education level of parents is also an important determinant of child work. One of the recent studies based on data from 35 countries (including India) identified poverty as the most important determinant of low school attendance and high child labour rates. The education of the household head was also found to be an important factor in the decision between work and school for children, underscoring the inter-generational benefits of education.

There is an inherent contradiction between the National Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 and the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 as the former does not ban all forms of child labour, but only hazardous labour.

According to the notified occupations and processes for children below 14 years, the latter, on coming into force on 1 April 2010, has made free and compulsory education for all children without exception a justifiable right. Considering there is no general minimum age for employment, the act recognizes that children should be in school which is an implicit recognition that they should not be at work.

An issue of concern...............


  1. Children are the future of india.It is an outstanding effort of Vednata Group which is engaged in "Khushi”thro,a missionary zeal that “Care for the Un-Privileged Children.

  2. This is quite alarming. I would suggest we should become self conscious in these matters and discourage what ever we can in our capacity.

  3. Yesterday I came to know about the malnutrition condition of India and today about the child labour. In my capacity I would not have my food where I am being served by a child. Let me start with myself and then only ask others.

  4. As a responsible citizen can we all ensure we will not appoint any child in our own home for domestic work to start with? Because with two working parents now a days with dispensible income lot of persons appoint small children specially girls to take care of their children or old parents.Also in small shops and Dhabas everyday small children work to support themselves and their addicted parents.Can we convince one shopkeeper to allow the child to go to school and support his education as a social responsibility ? I am sure if our parents could support 5 to 6 children with their small income we all can support few children to have compulsory education.If their parents are not in a position to do so let us all employees take an oath to do the same.

  5. Vedanta is doing a remarkable work by bringing such issues in the public domain. Excellent. Is it possible to open a discussion platform where we can discuss the issues. Regards Sapan Verma

    1. Miss Sapna Verma- Discussion ids good but what about the implementation. Der are so many sosial issues which are bounded to discussion only. why to put responsibility on NGO's, why don't take personal interest

  6. These are some really alarming facts. I would like to provide my services for any NGO/initiative taken to provide education to under previliaged children.

  7. vedanta is great