Assistant Professor of Economics,
Scott Christian College (Autonomous),
Children are the greatest gift of humanity. The children in any country reflect its health and depict its future. Children hold the potential and also sets the limit to the future development of a country. If children are deprived of their childhood-socially, economically, physically and mentally - the nation gets deprived of potential human resources for social progress, economic empowerment and peace and order and social stability. Ensuring child rights lays the foundation for developing human resources and thereby leads to the development of a nation. Our 11th Five Year Plan strives to create a protective environment, which will ensure every child’s right to survival, participation and development (Planning Commission, GOI, 2008)
DEFINITION OF CHILD
The census of India defines persons below the age of fourteen as children. According to Article 21A of the Indian Constitution, a child means a person who has not completed his/her fourteen years of age. According to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1966, No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment. Article 1 of the UN Convention define a child as a human being below the age of 18 years (Baruah, 2003).
CHILDREN IN INDIA
The Indian population is relatively young with nearly 37 per cent of it population below the age of fifteen, ie. two out of every five persons are below the age of 15 years. Nearly two-fifths of them live in conditions that are dangerous to life. The largest number of world’s working children are in India. Millions of children are missing the joys of childhood due to poverty, hunger, deprivation and unemployment of their parents (Sanon, 1998). It is estimated that in India about 30 per cent of all school – going children suffer from one form of ailment or another. Besides they are subjected to various forms of child abuse such as physical abuse, social abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse (Baruah 2003).
A study carried out over a period of 17 years in India on both children who attend school and children who instead of work showed that working children grow up shorter and weigh less than school children. Working children exhibited symptoms of constant muscular, chest and abdominal pain, headaches, dizziness, respiratory infections, diarrhoea and worm infection. The commercial sexual exploitations of children are a rise in India. Violence and sexual abure are among the most serious and frightening hazards facing children at work (Narasaiah, 2005).