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Report submitted
Binu s sharma


New Delhi
Child Labor in India
Issues, Dimensions and Determinants

1. Introduction
Across the globe, to a lesser or greater degree, visible or invisible,
admittedly or otherwise, child labour exists. The forces and circumstances, which
compel the child to work in its early stage of childhood, speak of deprivations of
the severest kind. Child labour is both an economic and social problem. It is a
social evil resulting in moral degradation of the children. Child labour deprives
the child education training and skill. Which are the requisites of earning power
and economic development? The issue of child labour can be extremely
controversial, not only because so many children work illegally but also because
their work so often involves abuse and exploitation. It is also generally believed
that the most dramatic forms of exploitation of working children are associated
with waged labour.

Child labor learns not only the present generation but also the posterity. If
one conceives the idea of a child labour. It begins before the eyes the picture of
exploitation of little, physically tender, illiterate and under-nourished children
working in hazardous occupations and unhealthy conditions under which they
are often employed, eventually them to severe health and safety hazards. The
problems of child labour in such that it can hardly be legislated away as it roots
lie in abject poverty and backwardness of the society.

The phenomenon of child labour, like all other social phenomena, is

historically and socially conditioned. Its emergence, growth and nature of
dynamics are intrinsically bound with the changing trends in production and
reproduction of a social matrix. By and large, prior to the rise and consolidation
of modern capitalism, children were primarily assigned to the status of helpers
and learners in family occupations-often hereditarily determined in Indian
context-under the supervision of the adult family member. In some sense, the
work place was almost an extension of the home and the little workers operated
within the genuine framework of personalized and informal milieu. Advent of
capitalism rapidly transformed the scenario. The capitalist relations of production
made refund ant the traditional practice of family members working as a team.
The child worker was thus forced out from the family environment. It is a double
alienation-separation from the system of production and expulsion from the
family. The job, more often than not, exposed the child to various kinds of health
hazards, and the hours of work stretched longer than before. Nevertheless, the
wage earnings remained relatively meager, as ever. Simultaneously, ill
treatment and unscrupulous, ill treatment and unscrupulous exploitation
increased unprecedently.

2. Concept

Child labor is multi-dimensional and multi-layered in nature. A child laborer can

be differentiated from an adult worker on the ground of age. Usually a child
worker is one below the age of 14 or 15 years who is engaged in any productive
activity whether paid r unpaid with the parents, family or outside. This definition
indicates that there are two kinds of child labour. The first is the traditional mode
of children assisting their parents, either in the family production unit, which is
often subsistence and the second is work done by children outside the family for
remuneration either in real terms or in cash to shore up the family income.
Child labor means employment of children is gainful occupations,
which are injurious to their physical, mental moral and social develo0pment. The
child labour is, at times, used as a synonym for employed child or working child.
But a working child is one who subjects himself or herself to work, unpaid or free,
instead of being at the school at tender and formative stage of his of her life.
Some experts say that the work that does not detract children from other
essential activities such as leisure, play and education is not child labour, child
labour therefore, is the work that involves some degree exploitation, physical,
mental economic that impairs the health and development of children. The
legislative definition of child labour varies in different Acts. According to the
operation Research Group, Baroda (ORGB) ‘ a working child is one who has
enumerated during the survey as a child falling within 5-15 years bracket and
who is at remunerative work which may be paid or unpaid, any busy in any hour
of the day within or outside the family” (Rehman, 1992, p.17). The concern for
Working Children (CWC), a Bangalore based group defines a child labourer as “a
person who has not completed his/her fifteenth year of age and is working with
or without wages/income on a part time or full time basis” (CWC, 1984). Another
view says that any child out of school is a child labour. It follows from the above
definition those two major indications, exploitation and age, have been used to
define child labour. In the context of exploitation. UNICEF has given a
comprehensive formulation in its attempt at defining child labour. According to
it, child labour is exploitative if it involves.

• Full time work at too early an age;

• Too many hours spent for working;
• Work that exerts undue physical, psychological and social stress;
• Work and life on the streets in bad conditions;
• Inadequate pay;
• Too much responsibility;
• Work that happens access to education;
• Work that undermines children’s dignity and self esteem, such as slavery
or bounded labour and sexual exploitation.
• Work that is detrimental to full social and psychological development
(UNICEF 1986, pp. 3-4)

Children belonging to a meager family income are compelled to joint the

labour market to supplement the family income. Generally people from lower
social strata of our society send their children for work instead of sending
them to school for education. Hence the children’s intellectual growth is
hampered by depriving them of educational opportunities, minimizing their
chances for vocational training and condemning them to low wage all their
lives as unskilled labors, (Subramanian 1990, p.263).

The definition that is provided by the International Labour Organization

seems to be more comprehensive. “Child Labour includes children primarily
leading audit lives, working long hours for low wages under condition
damaging to their health and to their physical and mental development,
sometimes separated from their families, frequently deprived of meaningful
educational and training opportunities that could open up for them a better
future.” (Bhatia, 1990 p. 13). Therefore, any works done by children in order
to economically benefit their family or themselves directly or indirectly, at
the cost of their physical, mental or social development is child labour
(Hussein. 1990, p. 341).

According to Sharma (1991), “Child labour includes all those aged 14

years or below, who are engaged in some productive work, whether paid or
not, within the family or outside.” The committee on child labour constituted
under the chairmanship of Sri Gurupadaswamy observedthat, “laour become
an absolute evil in case of a child when he is required to work beyond his
physical capacity, when hours of employment interferes with this education,
recreation and rest, when his wages are commensurate with the quantum of
work done and when the occupation in which he is engaged endangers
health and safety.”
The child labour (prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 defined child as
labour who has not completed his 14 years of age. Whether part-time /full
time in any occupation, engagement of child in the labour force simply
means a complete or partial denial of childhood to him. HE is not merely
deprived of the jobs and carefree life of a child, but also of desirable mental
and physical development. This is not only injustice to him as child, but also
as adult throughout his life, for the foundation of his adulthood is built on
extremely weak structure of under development. According to V.V. Giri, the
term child labour is commonly interpreted in two different ways; first as a
economic practice and secondly, as a social evil (Giri., 1958, p.360). The
impact of work on child’s development is the key to determining when such
work becomes a problem Work that is harmess to adults can be extremely
harmful to children, (Bequele, et. Al, 1995, pp. 6-7).

In reality, children do a variety of works in widely divergent conditions. These

works take place along a continuum. At the end of the continuum, the work
is beneficial, promoting or enhancing a child’s physical, mental, moral or
social development without interfering with schooling, recreation and rest. At
the other end it is palpably destructive or exploitative. There are vast areas
of activity between these two poles, including work that need not impact
negatively on child’s development. At the most destructive end, no one
would publicly agree that exploiting children as prostitutes is acceptable in
any circumstances. The same can be said about bonded child labour, the
term widely used for the virtual enslavement of children to repay debts
incurred by their parents. Hazardous work is too simply intolerable for all

3. Magnitude of the Problem

Magnitude of child labor may be ascertained by; (a) considering the number
of child labourers, (b) the percentage of children who work as labourers (i.e.,
the participation rate as percentage of over-all participation rate. If in an
area, the participation rate of children as percentage of general participation
rate is higher, the relative prevalence of child labour may be considered to
be high there. The world’s population of working children has yet to be
counted accurately. Because it is often illegal and clandestine, child labour
lies beyond the reach of conventional statistics. New survey methods are
penetrating the screen of obscurity, which for too long has concealed the
problem from public view. The finding reveals a tragedy of far greater
magnitude than earlier. Some 250 million children between the ages of 5-14
are working in the developing countries-120 million children between the
age of 5-14 are working in the developing countries-120 million full-time and
130 million part-time. Some 61 per cent of this total or nearly 153 million are
found in Asia; 32 percent or 80 million are in Africa and 7 per cent or 17.5
million live in Latin America. These estimates are based on a new and more
accurate methodology recently tested by the ILO’s Bureau of Statistics in
Ghana, India, Pakistan, Senegal and Turkey (Chandra, 1977, pp. 19-34).
Child Labor at World Level, 1995
Asia Perce Africa Perce Latin Perce Europe, Perce
nt nt America nt Oceania, nt
Middle East
Bhutan 55.10 Mali 25.30 Haiti 25.30 Portugal 1.76
East 45.39 Burkina 51.05 Guatemal 16.22 Albania 1.11
Timor a
Nepal 45.18 Burundi 48.97 Brazil 16.09 Italy 0.38
Pakistan 17.67 Niger 45.17 Bolivia 14.36 Romania 0.17
Banglade 30.12 Uganda 45.31 Dominica 16.06 Hungary 0.17
Thailand 16.22 Ethiopia 42.30 Nicaragua 14.05 Solomon, 28.89
India 14.37 Kenya 41.27 Paraguay 7.87 Papua new 19.31
China 11.55 Senegal 31.36 Mexico 6.73 Polynesia 3.67
Indonesi 9.55 Zimbabwe 29.44 Colombia 6.62 Turkey 24.00
Vietnam 9.12 Nigeria 25.75 Costa 5.48 Yemen 20.15
Philippin 8.04 Cameroon 25.25 Argentina 4.53 Syrian Arab 5.78
e Rep.
Malaysia 3.16 CoteD’ 20.46 Peru 2.48 Iran 4.71
Hong 0.00 Zambia 16.27 Uruguay 2.08 Iraq 2.95
Japan 0.00 Ghana 13.27 Venezuel 0.95 Jordon 0.68
Egypt 11.23Chile 0..00 Saudi Arabia 0.00
Morocco 5.61Cuba 0.00
Algeria 1.63
South 0.00
Tunisia 0.00
Source: “Treads of Child labor in India: A Review” in Exploited Children: A
Comprehensive Blueprint for Child labor Rehabilitation M. Koteswara Rao (Ed).2000

According to ILO, in 1995 at least 120 million of the world’s children

between 5-14 years did full time pay work (ILO, 1996). When child labour
include part-time workers, the number more than doubles (Basu, 1999,
pp.1083-1119). Child labour as a per cent of child population in different
parts of the world as per ILO’s estimates for 1995 is reported in table 3.1.
The proportion in Africa is generally higher than those in Asia and
elsewhere. Within Asia the range is quite large from virtually zero in Japan
to over 45 per cent in Nepal and East Timor.

A single estimate of child labour, by its very nature, is often misleading,

since it combines different types of child labour into one number-and thus mixes
“apples and oranges” (Anker, 2000, pp. 257-80.) in theory, single estimate of
child labour should measure all children who perform a labour force activity. This
would include children who do hazardous work as well as those who do non-
hazardous work, children working full time as well as those working part time,
children who are wage earners as well as those who are unpaid family worker
and children attending school as well as those not attending school. Indeed the
better the quality of data on child labour, the more complete is likely to be its
measurement and therefore the greater the problem of mixing “apple and
oranges”. Since better designed and executed surveys are likely to identify more
of the marginal and less egregious forms of child labour.

As the experience of several countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America

shows, legislative measures have failed to eliminate child labour even from those
occupations considered hazardous. Child labour is used in small scale mines in
many countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Child miners work long hours
without adequate protective equipment, clothing and training. In many Asian
countries especially Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, Children
are engaged in deep sea fishing (New Age, 1977, p.16). Child domestic service is
a wide spread service in many developing countries. Violence and sexual abuse
are among the most serious of frightening hazards facing children at work
especially those in domestic services. Such abuse leads to permanent
psychological and emotional damages.

An analysis of the child labour situation in Asia reveals certain hidden facts.
Figures in Tables 3.2 and 3.3 shows that countries with relatively high per capita
income could also succeed in reducing total as well as female literacy rates and
the poverty ratio. In countries like Singapore, Republic of Korea, Japan, Kuwait
and Saudi Arbia, both poverty ratio as well as incidence of child labour has
reduced to zero per cent. This shows an extremely positive correlation between
poverty ration and incidence of child labour. Furthermore in countries like
republic of Korea and Japan, the total and female literacy rates have fallen below
5 per cent. Few exceptions are also observed. In countries like Sri Lanka,
Thialand, Vietnam and Philippines, despite significant reduction in retires if
illiteracy, the child labour still exists. With moderately high illiteracy rates,
percentage of poverty ratio and child labour are nearly at par in China (11 and
10 percentages respectively). In countries like Kuwait and Saudi Arbia, though
both poverty ratio and child labour do not exist, high rates of illiteracy exist.

Table 3.2
Population, per capita Income & Government’s Expenditure on
Education in 20 Counties of Asia
Sr Country Total Density of Per Public Education
no. Populatio Population Capita Expenditure (Year 1995)
n (in (number)per Income( as percentage of
Million) Year GDP) in
Year 1998 1998 Dollar
Total Govt. GNP

1 India 980 330 2,077 11.6 3.2

2 Bangladesh 126 965 1,361 NA 2.2

3 Pakistan 132 171 1,715 7.1 2.7

4 Srilanka 19 90 2,979 8.9 3.4

5 Nepal 23 160 1,157 13.5 3.2

6 Myanmar 44 68 8,137 15.4 4.9

7 Thailand 61 120 5,456 20.1 4.8

8 Malaysia 22 68 8,137 15.4 4.9

9 Singapore 3 5,186 24,210 23.4 3.0

10 Indonesia 204 112 2,651 7.9 1.4

11 Vietnam 78 238 1,689 7.4 3.0

12 China 1,239 133 3,105 12.2 2.3

13 Republic of 46 470 13,478 17.5 3.7


14 Japan 126 335 23,257 9.9 3.6

15 Islamic republic 62 38 5,121 17.8 4.0

of Iran

16 Kuwait 2 105 25,314 14.0 5.0

17 Yemen Republic 16 31 719 21.6 7.0

18 Saudi Arabia 21 10 10,158 22.8 7.5

19 Philippines 75 252 3,555 15.7 3.4

20 Iraq 22 NA 3,197 NA NA

Note: NA. Data not available

Source: (1) World Bank: World Development report, 2000
(2)UNDP: Human Development Report, 2000

Table 3.3
Percentage figures of Child labor, Illiteracy Rate & Population
below Poverty line in 20 countries of Asia.
Sr Country Child Labor Total Female Poverty
no. Percentage of Illiteracy in Illiteracy in Ratio in
Age group 10- Percentage percentage Percentage
14 Years

1980 1998 1985 1998 1985 1998 1989-94

1 India 21 13 57 44.3 71 56.5 35

2 Bangladesh 29 67 59.6 78 71.4 48

3 Pakistan 23 17 70 56 81 71.1 34

4 Srilanka 4 2 13 8.9 17 11.7 22

5 Nepal 56 44 74 60.8 88 78.3 NA

6 Myanmar 28 24 NA 15.9 NA 20.5 Na

7 Thailand 25 15 9 5 12 6.8 13

8 Malaysia 8 3 27 13.6 34 18 16

9 Singapore 2 0 14 8.2 21 12.4 0

10 Indonesia 13 9 26 14.3 35 19.5 8

11 Vietnam 8 NA 7.1 NA 9.4 5.1

12 China 30 10 31 17.2 45 25.4 11

13 Republic of Korea 0 0 NA 2.5 NA 4.1 0

14 Japan 0 0 <5* 1 <5* 1 0

15 Republic of Iran 14 4 49 25.4 61 32.6 Na

16 Kuwait 0 0 30 19.1 37 21.5 0

17 Yemen Republic 26 20 Na 55.9 NA 77.3 NA

18 Saudi Arabia 5 0 NA 24.8 NA 35.6 0

19 Philippines 14 4 14 5.2 15 5.4 27.5

20 Iraq NA NA NA 46.3 NA 56.8 NA

Notes :< 5* Indicate a figure less than 5 percent

NA: Data not available
Sources: (1) World Bank: World Development Report, 2000. (2) UNDP: Human
Development Report, 2000.

In countries like India Bangladesh and Pakistan, the percentage figures of child
labor, illiteracy and poverty ration are all abnormally high. It is strange to note
that in Vietnam, poverty ratio is at 51percent, but child labor is only at 8 per
cent. The figures of Government’s expenditure on education do not, however,
clearly indicate and definite trend or respective impacts on reduction of illiteracy
and child labour. It is however, observed that Nepal occupies the Worst position
with respect to both percentage figures of illiteracy (60.8) and child labour (44).
Both these rates are highest among the 20 countries of Asia. The empirical data
reveals that those countries, which succeeded much in reducing illiteracy and
poverty, could also succeed in reducing their percentage figures of child labour.
A comparative analysis of the incidence of child labour in India with that in
the world, Asia and China; the incidence of child labour is here measured by the
participation rates for children, 10-14 years over a period ranging from 1950 to
2010 (as projected). (Table 3.4)

Table 3.4
Participation Rates for Children: 10-14 Years
Year/ 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 1995 2000 2010

World 27.57 24.81 22.30 19.91 14.65 13.02 11.32 8.44

Asia 3.06 32.26 28.35 23.42 15.19 12.77 10.18 5.60

China 47.85 43.17 39.03 30.48 15.24 11.55 7.86 0.00

India 35.43 30.07 25.46 21.44 16.68 14.37 12.07 7.46

Source: Economically Active Population: Estimates and Projections, 1950-2010
Geneva; ILO, Quoted in Basu (1999)

Up to 1990, the participation rate of children was higher in Asia compared to the
aggregate world figure; thereafter the Asian rate has fallen below the world rate.
The Chinese rate was higher than Asian rate up to 1990. Thereafter, China has
experienced a sharp fall in the rate, and China is expected to be free from child
labor by 2010. The participation rate for children was much lower in India than in
Chine in 1950. The occurrence rate of child labour in China continued to be
higher than that of India up to 1980. Thereafter, the fall in child participation rate
has been much shower in India compared to China. The Indian rate exceeded the
Chinese rate by 1990; by 2010. It is expected that the participation rate of
children would be around 7.46 in India.

4. Child Labor Situation in India

Child population in India was 230.26 million on 1971 and it has increased
by 77 million during 1971-1991, annual rate of growth being 1.67 per cent. The
percentage of male child was all through more than that of female child (GOI,
1971, 81,91). Rural child population in India per 1000 children has been
decreased from 750 in 1987-88 to 663 in 1993-94 (11.5% decline during the
period). Thus, the rural child population is consistently more than the urban child
population (NSS, 50th Round).
Indian states have exhibited wide variations in child population. Rural child
population has varied from 659 in Kerala to 853 in Rajasthan in 1987-88 and
from 984 in Kerala to 824 in Haryana in 1993-94. Though Kerala and Rajasthan
were ranked respectively lowest and highest in 1987-88 in respect of rural male
and female child population in 1993-94 only Kerala has maintained the same
position on the other hand, urban child population has ranged from 559 in Kerala
to 825 in Bihar in 1987-88 and from 507 in Kerala to 760 in Uttar Pradesh in
1993-94. Interstate analysis during 1987-93 reveals:

• Child population (both male & female) is lowest in Kerala among the
states in both rural and urban India.

• Child population (both male and female) is highest in Bihar among

the states in urban India.

• Utter Pradesh has the highest number of rural male children and
Rajasthan has the highest number of rural female children in 1993-

• Rural children population expectedly exceeds urban child

population everywhere in India.

• Child population as a whole has decreased over time in all the

states in India excepting Haryana (Where urban child population
has increased).

The population Censes conducted by the Government of India once in

ten years and the sample surveys of National Sample Surveys
Organization (NSSO) on employment and unemployment are two main
sources of data on overall employment and unemployment in the
country .these two sources also provide workforce data by age
distribution. The employment data from NSS is more reliable than
Censes. However, Censes data provides district wise analysis. In
addition to this National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER)
provides data on various aspects of rural child labor in India. A close
analysis of these sources of data reveals the various dimensions of
child labor situation in India.

5. Dimensions of Child labor in India

In India the problem of child labor and its nature and magnitude is
complex and gigantic. Millions of Children are working in large number of
different industries and occupational all over the country. Estimates
supplied by multi agencies regarding the size of the child labor in India do
not offer a uniform picture. An analysis of the census figures for 1971, 81
and 91 reveals that the number of child labor has gone up not only in total
quantum but also in hazardous occupations (GOI, 1971, 81, 91). The
number of working children has risen from 10.7 million in 1971 to 11.2 in
1991 (Table 3.5).
It is difficult to give a percentage estimate of the overall magnitude of
child labor in India on account of numerous limitations, such as, the
predominance of informal and unorganized nature of the labor market,
multiplicity of concepts, methods of estimation and sources of data.
However, as per the data furnished in Tables 3.6 the child labor estimates
are 10.74 in 1971. By 1996 the estimates figure has gone up to 140
million. The recent UNICEF report (1997) reveals that of the 250 million
child labor sufferers in the world, over one- third are in India
(Jha,1997,p.1). Among these children about 75 per cent work in houses
and hotels (Anandrajkumar, 1998, pp.7-17). However, the latest estimates
made by the UNICEF and ILO reveal that there are about 44 million
working children in India. Whatever may be actual figures for child labor,
the important point is that the child labor phenomenon in India is on the
rise and perhaps India has the dubious distinction of having the largest
child labor force in the world. Among these children the vast majority are
in the rural areas.

Table 3.5
The state wise distribution of child workers (10-14 Age groups according to
1971, 81 and 91 census)
Sr State/ Union Child workers in the age group of 0-14 (Millions)
no. Territories
1971 1981 1991
Main Child Marginal Total Child
Workers Child Workers
1 Andhra Pradesh 1,627,492 1,951,312 1,537,293 124,647 1,661,940
2 Assam 239,349* ** 259,953 67,645 327,598
3 Bihar 1,059,359 1,101,764 795,444 146,801 942,245
4 Gujarat 518,061 611,913 373,027 150,558 523,585
5 Haryana 137,826 1,94,189 89,030 20,661 109,691
6 Himachal Pradesh 71,384 99,624 30,771 25,667 56,438
7 Jammu & Kashmir 70,384 258,437 0
8 Karnataka 808,719 1,131,530 818,159 158,088 976,247
9 Kerala 111,801 92,854 28,590 6,210 34,800
10 Madhya Pradesh 1,112,319 1,698,597 997,940 354,623 1,352,563
11 Maharashtra 988,357 1,557,765 805,847 262,571 1,068,418
12 Manipur 16,380 20,217 13,478 3,015 16,493
13 Meghalaya 30,440 44,916 30,730 3,903 34,633
14 Nagaland 13,726 16,235 16,106 370 16,476
15 Orissa 492,477 702,293 325,250 127,144 452,394
16 Punjab 232,774 216,939 132,414 10,454 142,868
17 Rajasthan 587,389 819,605 490,522 283,677 774,199
18 Sikkim 15,661 8,561 5,254 344 5,598
19 Tamil Nadu 713,305 975,055 523,125 56,764 578,879
20 Tripura 17,490 24,204 13,506 2,972 16,478
21 Uttar Pradesh 1,326,726 1,434,675 1,145,087 264,999 1,410,086
22 West Bengal 511,443 605,263 593,387 118,304 711,691
23 And. & Nik. Island 572 1,309 758 507 1,265
24 Arunachal Pradesh 17,925 17,950 11,632 763 12,395
25 Chandigarh 1,086 1,986 1,839 31 1,870
26 Dadra & Nagar 3,102 3,615 2,677 1,739 4,416
27 Delhi 17,120 25,717 26,670 681 27,351
28 Daman & Diu 7,391 9,378 741 200 941
29 Goa 3,938 718 4,656
30 Lakshadweep 97 56 17 17 34
31 Mizoram *** 6,314 6,391 10,020 16,411
32 Pondicherry 3,725 3,606 2,565 115 2,680
Total 10,753,98 13,640,8 9,082,141 2,203,208 11,285,34
5 70 9
*Includes figures of Mizo district which then formed part of Assam
**1981 Census could not be conducted in Assam due to disturbed conditions prevailing there then
***Census figures of 1971 in respect of Mizoram included under Assam

Table 3.6
Magnitude of Child Labor as Estimated by Different Organization
Year No. of Children Organization/ Institute
1971 10.74 million Census
1972-73 16.33 27th round of N.S.S.
1975 15.10 I.L.O.
1981 13.60 Census
1982 17.36 38th Round of N.S.S.
1983 44.00 ORG Baroda
1985 111.00 Balai Manila
1987-88 17.02 43rd Round of N.S.S
1991 23.02 D.P Chaudhari
1994 20.00 Labor Ministry
1995 74.80 CACL
1996 140.00 Rashmi Sehgal
1996 35.00 UNICEF
1997 73.00 UNICEF
Source: Quoted in R.R. Patel, “Eliminating Child Labor: Some National and
International Limitation”, Social Change, Vol.27 No.3-4, Sept-Dec. 1997, p.174

A1995 report by the Government appointed Commission on Labor Standards

and International Trade states that child labor has been increasing at the rate
of 4 per cent a year India (Krishankumar, 1997,p. 85).Some starting facts
about child labor in India are Presented here:

• The number of full time child workers increased from 13,400,000 in 1951 to 14,
500, 000, in 1961 and then decreased to 12,700,000.
• The marginal child labor increased from 2,400,000 in 1981, to 10,500,000 in
1990 and the decreased to 2,203,208 in 1991
• There is a massive group of children referred to as “nowhere children”, which
appear neither in official labor statistics nor in the education statistics. The ILO
estimates that the number of children in the age group 5 to 14 years, who are
neither in school nor in the labor force, is 24,000,000.
• The combined total of full-time child workers, marginal child workers and
“nowhere children”. Amounts to over 97,000,000 or almost 40 per cent of the 5
to 14 years child population (Dasgupta, 1997.p.18).

The NSS data over the period 1977-78 to 1993-94 shows that the incidence of child
labor has been decline over time in both rural and urban areas. In rural areas, till 1987-
88, the percentage of child labor for boys was higher than for girls while in 1993-94, the
percentage are same for girls. In case of urban areas, percentages for boys were always
higher than that for girls (Table 3.7). There is a heavy concentration of child labor
between the age group of 10-14. With the urbanization, various types of activities, most
hazardous are generated. Activities like hotels and restaurants, tea-stalls, motor
garages and repairing shops, etc. naturally absorb more children at a low wage rate
(Pal, 2001, p.187).