Today's labouring children or tomorrow's leaders?

They say children are tomorrow's future, whilst this is true we forget that in order for the leaders of the future to grow and develop into great leaders they are still children who, need to experience the highs and lows of childhood; experience life as it is expected and explained to all of us.

Everyday children in impoverished circumstances wake up in search of ways to earn money. In most instances they resort to prostitution, factory work, farming and criminal activities in order to put food on the table.

It is estimated 158 million children between 5-14 years old are exploited in child labour. Children are forced to work in dangerous conditions, some children work in order to support their families others are abducted to work in factories for export trade.

Child labour in India

India, over the years, has managed to climb its way up to being one of the largest economies in the world and yet they are notorious for child labour. With its population over 1 billion, India has the largest percentage of children in Asia. According to the Indian constitution, it is illegal for a child to enter the labour force under the age of 14, and yet millions do. According to UNICEF India is home to 29 million child labourers, 70% are found in rural sectors other sectors involve "beedi manufacture, firework manufacture, diamond industry, construction etc".

India has attempted to reduce child labour by implementing development plans and policies offering support and incentives but this has proved futile. One is left to ask why that is the case; why is it that forces acting to eradicate child labour have not been successful in doing so?

One reason, as it stands, is many multinationals seek out countries that can provide cheap labour, what is more cheaper than desperate children? They view them as profits and commodities rather than children clearly, demonstrating a lack of compassion. There are many multinationals who have been known to benefit from child labour in India, such as GAP the clothing company, which subcontracts and hires workers in India particularly children to work in factories.

Poverty and globalisation

It would appear poverty is the main reason for children to enter the labour force. Inflation, unfair income distribution, unemployment has forced millions of parents to send their children to work rather than empower them with education. Ironically, globalisation was meant to narrow the gap between the rich and poor, but critics argue globalisation has increased competition that the poor cannot compete in thus; the gap is evident and larger than ever.

Clearly, child labour is a huge problem not just in India but also around the world. Children are missing out in receiving an education as eating is more important than educating tomorrow's leaders. It is not a case of distributing money to poor families rather; a long-term development plan needs to be adequately implemented allowing children to avoid the need to enter perilous work.

This is a progressive trend and a vicious cycle of child labour - illiteracy - poverty - child labour, and unless we realise children are tomorrow's future and strive to combat this prevailing evil the future remains bleak for these children.

India has many things to be proud of but its utter ignorance on children's rights marks a bleak spot in its name. India must not only set laws and policies to protect their vulnerable nation but also simultaneously take measures to act upon it without buying into the demands and agendas of developed countries.

Images from fredcan and biharnewspix on Flickr.