Children are the greatest gift to humanity and Childhood is an important and impressionable stage of human development as it holds the potential to the future development of any society. Children who are brought up in an environment, which is conducive to their intellectual, physical and social health, grow up to be responsible and productive members of society. Every nation links its future with the present status of its children. By performing work when they are too young for the task, children unduly reduce their present welfare or their future income earning capabilities, either by shrinking their future external choice sets or by reducing their own future individual productive capabilities. Under extreme economic distress, children are forced to forego educational opportunities and take up jobs which are mostly exploitative as they are usually underpaid and engaged in hazardous conditions. Parents decide to send their child for engaging in a job as a desperate measure due to poor economic conditions. It is therefore no wonder that the poor households predominantly send their children to work in early ages of their life. One of the disconcerting aspects of child labour is that children are sent to work at the expense of education. There is a strong effect of child labour on school attendance rates and the length of a child’s work day is negatively associated with his or her capacity to attend school. Child labour restricts the right of children to access and benefit from education and denies the fundamental opportunity to attend school. Child labour, thus, prejudices children’s education and adversely affects their health and safety. India has all along followed a proactive policy in addressing the problem of child labour and has always stood for constitutional, statutory and developmental measures that are required to eliminate child labour. The Constitution of India has relevant provisions to secure compulsory universal primary education. Labour Commissions and Committees have gone into the problems of child labour and made extensive recommendations. India’s judiciary, right up to the apex level, has demonstrated profoundly empathetic responses against the practice of child labour. Despite several proactive legislations, policies and judicial pronouncements, the problem of child labour persists as a challenge to the country.
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