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What is child labour?
 The International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines child labour as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to their physical and mental development.
 However, children or adolescents who participate in work that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling, is not child labour. Example: helping their parents at home, assisting family or earning pocket money outside school hours and on holidays.
Child Labour in India- Statistics:
 According to 2011 Census, there were more than 10.2 million “economically active” children in the age group of 5to 14-5.6 million boys and 4.5 million girls.
 Child labour has decreased in rural areas however; it has increased drastically in the urban areas
 An analysis (2016) by CRY (Child Rights and You) of census data shows that the overall decrease in child labour is only 2.2%per year from 2001 to 2011.
 There are five states which are the India’s biggest child labour employers- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Nature of Child Labour in India:
1. Change in Location of work: There has been an increasing involvement of children in home-based works and in the informal sector. The change in type of child labour mainly attributes to enforcement of legislation and awareness amongst buyers about child exploitation.

2. Nature of work in Rural-Urban Areas:
 In urban areas, a large number of children are engaged in manual domestic work, rag picking, restaurants, motor repair shops etc.
 In rural sector children are engaged in the agricultural sector including cotton growing, at glass, match box and brass and lock-making factories, in embroidery, rag-picking, beedi-rolling, in the carpet-making industry, in mining and stone quarrying, brick kilns and tea gardens amongst others.

3. Gender: The division of labour is gender-specific with girls being engaged in more domestic and home-based work, and boys working as wage labourers.
4. Bonded child labour: Bonded labour means the employment of a person against a loan or debt or social obligation by the family of the child or family as a whole. Bonded child labourers are often found in agriculture sector or assisting their families in brick kilns, and stone quarries. The Bonded Labour Liberation Front estimates 10 million bonded children in India.
5. Migrant children: Migrant children are often forced to drop-out schools and are inevitably put to work at work-sites.
Causes of Child Labour:
1. Poverty and Indebtedness:
 Poverty is the greatest cause of child labour. For impoverished households, income from a child’s work is usually crucial for his or her own survival or for that of the household.Children are also bonded to labour due to a family indebtedness.
 Rural poverty and urban migration also often exposes children to being trafficked for work
2. Adult unemployment and under-employment: high prevalence of adult unemployment and under-employment often force children to work to support family.
3. Illiteracy and Ignorance of child’s parents: Illiteracy of the child’s parents further worsens the situation. Illiteracy and Lack of awareness of the harmful effects of child labour make them violate the law and put their children under the risk of inhuman exploitation.
4. Lack of access to basic and meaningful quality education and skills training:
 The prevailing educational infrastructure is highly unsuitable to children of economically deprived families. Further deplorable quality of education has led to increasing dropout rates and forced children into child labour.
 Compulsory education does not cover 15-18 age group. However, being illiterate or school dropouts, these children are vulnerable and often exploited as part of informal, unskilled and casual workforce.
5. Demand for child labour: Increasing demand for child labour especially in urban areas is an important reason of prevalence and increase in child labour. Children are employed because they are cheap and flexible according to the demands of the employer and not aware of their rights.
6. Cultural factors: An expectation that children should contribute to the socioeconomic survival of the family and community, as well as the existence of large families contribute to prevalence of child labour.
 Children often take up family’s traditional work from an early age. For example, a Goldsmith’s son takes to gold-smithery, or a carpenter’s child takes up carpentry from an early age
7. Social factors: There is a strong correlation between India’s differentiated social structure and child labour. The majority of child labourers in India belong to the so called lower castes (SCs), the tribal and Muslim religious minority.
Impact of Prevalence of Child Labour:
1. Child labour impedes children from gaining the skills and education they need to have opportunities of decent work as an adult.
2. Child labour deprives a child of his/her childhood. It not only denies his/her right to education but also right to leisure
3. Child labourers face major health and physical risks: they work long hours and are required to perform tasks for which they are physically and developmentally unprepared. Working in hazardous conditions adversely affects a child’s physical and mental health and impairs intellectual, emotional and psychological development
4. Poverty: Child labour is both a cause and consequence of poverty. Household poverty forces children into the labour market to earn money. Thus the children miss out on an opportunity to gain an education, further perpetuating household poverty across generations

5. Presence of a large number of child labourers has long term effect on the economy; it is a serious obstacle to socio-economic welfare of a country.

International Safeguards
International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions
 The two Core Conventions directly related to child labour are that of ILO Convention 138 (Minimum age convention) and 182 (Worst forms of Child Labour Convention). India has ratified both the Core Conventions of International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions
Declaration of Rights of Child, 1959
Universal declaration of human rights 1948 – stipulates (under article 25) that childhood is entitled to special care and assistance. The above principles along with other principles of universal declaration concerning child were incorporated in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, 1959.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989
It sets out different rights of children- civil, political, economic, cultural, social and health. Article 32 states that the government should protect children from work that is dangerous or might harm their health or their education.

Policy Framework surrounding Child Labour:
Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986
Based on the recommendations of the Gurupadswammy Committee (1979), the Act was passed in 1986. It has following objectives:
 to prohibit the engagement of children in certain employments
 and to regulate the conditions of work of children in certain other employments
Evolution of the Policy on Child Labour
The National Policy for Children, 1974, declared children to be a 'supreme national asset'. It pledged measures to secure and safeguard all their needs, declaring that this could be done by making wise use of available national resources. However pious may be the intent, this did not change the ground reality.
So way back in 1979, the Government formed the first committee called Gurupadswamy Committee to study the issue of child labour and to suggest measures to tackle it. The Committee examined the problem in detail and made some far-reaching recommendations.
It observed that as long as poverty continued, it would be difficult to totally eliminate child labor.
Hence, any attempt to abolish it through legal recourse would not be a practical proposition
The Committee felt that in the circumstances, the only alternative left was to ban child labour in hazardous areas and to regulate and ameliorate the conditions of work in other areas.
It recommended that a multiple policy approach was required in dealing with the problems of working children
Based on the recommendations of Gurupadaswamy Committee, the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act was enacted in 1986. The Act prohibits employment of children in certain specified hazardous occupations below the age of 14 years.
The law does not protect children who perform domestic or unreported labour
Through a recent notification, child domestic workers up to 14 years of age working in hotels and dhabas have been brought within the purview of the Act. It is one step towards the total elimination of child labour.
Later a National Policy on Child Labour was formulated in 1987. The Policy seeks to adopt a gradual & sequential approach with a focus on rehabilitation of children working in hazardous occupations & processes in the first instance.

Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016
• The raw act in the Constitution that was amended in the year 2016 can be stated as:
• “An Act to prohibit the engagement of children in all occupations and to prohibit the engagement of adolescents in hazardous occupations and processes and the matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”
According to this amendment in the Act, the Government of India will provide stricter punishments for employers who violate the Act.
It will also make the employer employing any child or adolescent in contravention of the Act cognizable.
The Act also allows the government to bar the employment of adolescents that are working in any hazardous conditions.

Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Rules,2017
The Government of India decided to make further amendments in the Act after extensive consultation with the stakeholders. Provisions under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Rules are as follows:
• A broad and specific framework for prevention, prohibition, rescue and rehabilitation of children and as well as adolescent workers.
• Clarity on issues related to family enterprises.
• Safeguards for creative workers or artists that have been permitted to work under the Act, with respect to working hours and working conditions.
• Set of specific duties and responsibilities for law enforcement agencies to ensure effective implementation and compliance of the Act.
• Complete prohibition of employment of children below the age of 14
• Children allowed to work only after school hours or during vacations under the condition that the occupations were hazardous.
• Children below the age of 14 years will be allowed to work in Family Business/Enterprises only if they are non-hazardous.
• Children will be able to work in family businesses even if it didn’t belong to the child’s family only if the occupation is non-hazardous.
• Children between 14-18 years are categorised as Adolescents and are not allowed to work in hazardous occupations.
• Regulated working conditions for adolescents working in non-hazardous occupations are in place.
• A child can’t work in any occupation, so the list of prohibited occupations has been made infinite as there is a complete ban on employment.
• Schedule of hazardous processes and occupations provided where an adolescent cannot work.
• The government can provide a positive list of non-hazardous occupations where an adolescent can work and a child can assist.
• District Magistrate or a subordinate officer can be made responsible for enforcement and can be conferred with such powers. Provision for laying specific responsibility on the designated Officer for violating the provisions of the Act – this ensures better enforcement.
• Statutory provision for a child and adolescent labour rehabilitation fund with contribution of appropriate Government also ensured for each child rescued. The statutory provision for a rehabilitation fund will ensure that the child/adolescent is not only rescued but his/her future is secured by the amount collected in the fund. This amount can be used for the education and welfare of the rescued child.

National Child Labour Project (NCLP) for the rehabilitation of child labour. Under the scheme Special Schools/Rehabilitation Centres for the rehabilitation of child labourers are opened. These Centers provide nonformal education, vocational training, supplementary nutrition and stipend to children withdrawn from employment.
INDO-US Child Labour Project (INDUS): The Ministry of Labour, GoI and the US Department of Labour have initiated a project aimed at eliminating child labour in 10 hazardous sectors across 21 districts in five States.
Articles related to Child labour in India

Article 14 (No child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other dangerous employment.
As per Article 21(A) – The child has the right to Education i.e. the state shall provide compulsory and free education to the children of the age six to 14 years.
Right to Education Act (RTE) provided free and compulsory education to children in 2009 and enforced it as a fundamental right under Article 21-A.
Why Right to Education?
The Right to Education serves as a building block to ensure that every child has his or her right to get a quality elementary education.
Constitutional Background
 Originally Part IV of Indian Constitution, Article 45 and Article 39 (f) of DPSP, had a provision for state funded as well as equitable and accessible education.
 The first official document on the Right to Education was Ramamurti Committee Report in 1990.
 In 1993, the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment in the Unnikrishnan JP vs State of Andhra Pradesh & Others held that Education is a Fundamental right flowing from Article 21.
 Tapas Majumdar Committee (1999) was set up, which encompassed insertion of Article 21A.
 The 86th amendment to the constitution of India in 2002, provided Right to Education as a fundamental right in part-III of the Constitution.
 The same amendment inserted Article 21A which made Right to Education a fundamental right for children between 6-14 years.
 The 86th amendment provided for a follow-up legislation for Right to Education Bill 2008 and finally Right to Education Act 2009.
Feature of Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009
 The RTE Act aims to provide primary education to all children aged 6 to 14 years.
 It enforces Education as a Fundamental Right (Article 21).
 The act mandates 25% reservation for disadvantaged sections of the society where disadvantaged groups include:

o SCs and STs
o Socially Backward Class
o Differently abled
 It also makes provisions for a non-admitted child to be admitted to an age appropriate class.
 It also states that sharing of financial and other responsibilities between the Central and State Governments.
 It lays down the norms and standards related to:

o Pupil Teacher Ratios (PTRs)
o Buildings and infrastructure
o School-working days
o Teacher-working hours.
 It had a clause for “No Detention Policy” which has been removed under The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Act, 2019.
 It also provides for prohibition of deployment of teachers for non-educational work, other than decennial census, elections to local authority, state legislatures and parliament, and disaster relief.
 It provides for the appointment of teachers with the requisite entry and academic qualifications.
 It prohibits

o Physical punishment and mental harassment
o Screening procedures for admission of children
o Capitation fee
o Private tuition by teachers
o Running of schools without recognition
 It focuses on making the child free of fear, trauma and anxiety through a system of child friendly and child centred learning.
Achievements of Right to Education Act,2009
 The RTE Act has successfully managed to increase enrolment in the upper primary level (Class 6-8).
 Stricter infrastructure norms resulted in improved school infrastructure, especially in rural areas.
 More than 3.3 million students secured admission under 25% quota norm under RTE.
 It made education inclusive and accessible nationwide.
 Removal of “no detention policy” has brought accountability in the elementary education system.
 The Government has also launched an integrated scheme, for school education named as Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, which subsumes the three schemes of school education:

o Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)
o Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA)
o Centrally Sponsored Scheme on Teacher Education (CSSTE).
Limitation of Right to Education Act, 2009
 Age group for which Right to Education is available ranges from 6 – 14 years of age only, which can be made more inclusive and encompassing by expanding it to 0 – 18 years.
 There is no focus on quality of learning, as shown by multiple ASER reports, thus RTE Act appears to be mostly input oriented.
 Five States namely Goa, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim and Telangana have not even issued notification regarding 25% seats for underprivileged children of society under the RTE.
 More focus is being given over statistics of RTE rather than quality of learning.
 Lack of teachers affect pupil-teacher ratio mandated by RTE which in turn affects the quality of teaching .
Steps to Be Taken
 Minority Religious Schools need to be brought under the RTE.
 More focus on teacher training programs.
 Quality of education needs to be emphasized over quantity of education.
 Steps should be taken to make the teaching profession attractive.
 Society as a whole needs to be supportive of education for children without biases.

Article 24: Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc.
No child below the age fourteen years shall be employed in work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.

Article 39-E ( The state shall direct its policy towards securing that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused, and that they are not forced by economic necessity to enter vocations unsuitable to their area and strength.
Article 39-F (Children shall be given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity, and that childhood and youth shall be protected against moral and material abandonment.

Rescue & Repatriation:

• During inspections and raids, children identified are rescued, and rehabilitative measures are set forth in motion by way of repatriation, in case of migrant child labour, and providing bridge education with ultimate objective of mainstreaming them into the formal system of education. Besides pre-vocational training is also provided to the rescued children.


• With regard to educational rehabilitation, the government is implementing National Child Labour Project Scheme (NCLP) in 266 child labour endemic districts in 20 States. Objectives of the Scheme are:

I. This is the major Central Sector Scheme for the rehabilitation of child labour.
II. The Scheme seeks to adopt a sequential approach with focus on rehabilitation of children working in hazardous occupations & processes in the first instance;
III. Under the Scheme, survey of child labour engaged in hazardous occupations & processes has been conducted;
IV. The identified children are to be withdrawn from these occupations & processes and then put into special schools in order to enable them to be mainstreamed into formal schooling system; and
V. Project Societies at the district level are fully funded for opening up of special schools/Rehabilitation Centres for the rehabilitation of child labour.

• Under the Scheme, children found working in hazardous occupations are withdrawn from work and put into bridge schools, where they are provided with formal/non-formal education, vocational training, health care, mid-day meal, and stipend of Rs.150 per month, with ultimate objective of mainstreaming them into formal educational system.
• At present, 7311 special schools are in operation with enrolment of 3.2 lakh children. Under the Scheme, about 8.52 lakh children have been mainstreamed into formal system since inception.
M.C. Mehta v. State of Tamil Nadu and others
Background: This case arose out of a public interest litigation filed by M.C. Mehta in the Supreme Court of India under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, in respect of employment of children in the match industry in Sivakasi. Since the problem of child labour was rampant throughout the country, the court thought it appropriate to deal with the issue in a wider manner treating it as a national problem.
Recommendations made by court-appointed committee:
In the course of the hearing, the court appointed an advocates committee to visit the area and make a comprehensive report relating to the various aspects of the matter, as mentioned in the order of 14 August 1991. The committee was to consist of three advocates: Shri R.K. Jain, Ms Indira Jaisingh, and Shri K.C. Dua. The committee submitted its report on 11.11.91. The report contained many recommendations:
a) The State of Tamil Nadu should be directed to ensure that children are not employed in fireworks factories.
(b) The children employed in the match factories for packing must work in separate premises.
(c) Employers should not be permitted make the children work for more than six hours a day.
(d) Proper transport facilities should be provided by the employers and the state government.
(e) Facilities for recreation and education should be provided in or around the factory.
(f) Employers should make arrangements for providing basic diet to the children. In case they fail to do so, the government may be directed to provide for basic diet – the ‘one meal a day’ programme of the State of Tamil Nadu for school children may be extended to the child worker.
(g) Piece-rate wages should be abolished and payment should be made on a monthly basis. Wage should be proportionate to the work done by the child.
(h) All workers working in the industry should be brought under the Insurance Scheme.
(i) For Sivakasi area, a committee should be headed by a retired High Court judge or a person of equal status along with two social workers, who should be answerable either to the Supreme Court or to the High Court. Employers of all the industries should be directed to deposit Rs 2 per month per worker towards a welfare fund, and the State should be directed to make a matching contribution.
(j) A National Commission for children's welfare should be set up to prepare a scheme for child labour abolition in a phased manner. It should be answerable to the Supreme Court and report its progress at periodical intervals to the Supreme Court.
Observations made by the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court recognised that Sivakasi had ceased to be the only centre employing child labour; the malady was no longer confined to that place. The court also recognised that child labour was an all-pervasive national problem in India even after 50 years of independence – and despite the enactment of various legislations. Further, the Supreme Court recognised poverty as a basic cause for child labour. The court observed that until an alternative income was assured to the family, child labour could never be effectively tackled.
Directions given by the Supreme Court
To resolve the problem of child labour, the Supreme Court gave the following directions:
• Every state government must conduct a survey, to be completed within six months, on the types of child labour carried out in the state.
• The survey could begin with the modes of employment mentioned under Article 24 of the Constitution of India. The most hazardous employment would rank first in priority, to be followed by a comparatively less hazardous employment, and so on.
• To ensure compliance with Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, an employer must be asked to pay a sum of Rs 20,000 as compensation for every child employed in contravention of the provisions of the Act
• The employer would be liable to pay this amount even if he were to disengage the child presently employed.
• The inspectors, appointed under Section 17 of the Act, would bear the responsibility of ensuring this.
• The sum paid as compensation should be deposited in a fund to be known as Child Labour Rehabilitation-cum-Welfare Fund.
• Such a fund should be established district-wise or area-wise.
• The fund so generated should be used only for the concerned child. The income earned through the fund would also be a part of the fund. To generate greater income, the fund could be deposited in a high-yielding scheme of any nationalised bank or other public body
• The State should ensure that an adult member of the family (whose name would be suggested by the parent/guardian of the concerned child) whose child is in employment in a factory or a mine or in other hazardous work gets a job anywhere, in lieu of the child.
• The employment could be combined with other assured employment as this would not require generation of much additional employment.
• The employment so given could be in the same industry where the child was employed or a public undertaking, and could be manual in nature. The undertaking chosen for employment shall be one that is nearest to the place of residence of the family.
• In those cases where it would not be possible to provide employment to the adult member, the appropriate government would deposit a sum of Rs 25,000 every month for each child employed in a factory, a mine, or any other hazardous employment, in the Child Labour Rehabilitation-cum-Welfare Fund.
• In case of obtaining employment for an adult, the parent/guardian shall have to withdraw their child from work. Even if no employment was provided, the parent/guardian shall have to see that the child is spared from the requirement to work, as an alternative source of income would have become available to him.
• The employment given or payment made would cease to be operative if the child is not sent by the parent/guardian for education.
• On discontinuation of the employment of the child, his education would be assured in a suitable institution. It would be the duty of the inspector to see to it that free and compulsory education up until the age of 14 is provided to the child.
• Penal provision contained in the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, would be used where employment of a child labour prohibited by the Act is found.
• Also, wherever child labour is employed in non-hazardous jobs (which is permissible under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986), the working hours of the child must not be more than four to six hours a day. Every child so employed must receive education for at least two hours each day. The entire cost of education must be borne by the employer. It would be the responsibility of the inspector to ensure this.
• Monitoring Authorities
 The district collector would be responsible for monitoring the functioning of the inspectors

 In view of the magnitude of the task, a separate cell in the Labour Department of the appropriate government would be created.

 The Secretary of the Labour Department would be responsible for monitoring the scheme.

 Overall monitoring by the Ministry of Labour, Government of India, would be beneficial and worthwhile.

Eradication of Child Labour:
Children are the most valuable asset of the country and ensuring their proper education, health, safety and overall development is the utmost priority of the Government of Tamil Nadu. The Government have adopted multipronged strategy which includes both stringent legislative and project based approach. Effective enforcement and implementation of the provisions of the various legislations, convergence of resources of Government both horizontally and vertically, co-ordination between various stake holders and active involvement of the community is the key in attaining the ambitious goal of a child labour free society. The concerted efforts taken by the State Government have resulted in perceptible decline of the number of child labour in the State.

Enforcement :
The Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 and the allied Acts prohibiting employment of Children are implemented in the State by the officials of the Commissionerate of Labour and the Directorate of Industrial Safety and Health.
The State has notified Assistant Commissioners of Labour (Enforcement) as Nodal Officers for each district vide G.O.(Ms) No.130, Labour and Employment (U1) Department, dated 28.07.2017. Consequent upon strengthening the legislative framework for complete prohibition of employment of children below 14 years, the Government of India have provided a vibrant enforcement mechanism in the form of an online portal ‘PENCIL’ (Platform for Effective Enforcement of No Child Labour).
Awareness Generation:
Every year, June 12 is observed as ‘Anti Child Labour Day’ to create awareness among the public. At districts level, many awareness activities like oath taking in schools and Government offices, rallies, human chains and awareness meetings are being conducted. At the State level, Anti Child Labour Day message from the Hon’ble Chief Minister was published in various Tamil and English dailies. Mainstreamed students from National Child Labour Project Special Training Centres who scored high marks in 10th and 12th Standard Public Examinations were given cash awards and the best Special Training Teachers were felicitated for their work.
Every year, in the All India Industrial and Tourism Trade Fair organised at Island Grounds, Chennai, various awareness generation activities such as signature campaign, distribution of pamphlets and administering of pledge against employment of child labour is taken up in the pavilion earmarked for this department.

National Child Labour Project
In Tamil Nadu the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) funded by the Government of India is implemented in 15 Districts. The NCLP society is headed by District Collector, who is the chairperson of the District Child Labour Monitoring Committee. Currently, 312 Special Training Centers are functioning in the 15 NCLP project districts in which 7,040 rescued child labourers are studying. During 2017-18, the number of mainstreamed children into regular schools was 3,482.
A stipend of Rs.400/- per month, educational materials, free uniform, free medical check-up etc., are provided to children supported by NCLP. The State Government is providing a monthly cash assistance of Rs.500/- to the erstwhile child labour from NCLP schools to pursue higher education. During the academic year 2017-2018, 782 students have been benefited to the tune of Rs.46.92 Lakh.

Abolition of Bonded Labour System
The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 and the bonded labour rehabilitation scheme provide for economic and social rehabilitation of the freed bonded labourers including their skilling and capacity building. The subject of rehabilitation of bonded labour is with the Labour Department from 01.04.2017.
All the Assistant Commissioners of Labour (Enforcement) have been appointed as Nodal Officers for the implementation of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 and the Central Sector Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourer 2016 for their respective administrative jurisdiction.
A Standard Operating Procedure for identification, release and rehabilitation of bonded labour is being prepared in order to provide guidelines to various stake holders for effective implementation of the Act and the 2016 Scheme.
The rescued bonded labourers are rehabilitated with immediate assistance amount of Rs.20,000/-, Public Distribution System Ration Card, Community Certificate, Employment, Education, Skill Training, enrolment in SHG and medical needs. Further, the rescued bonded labourers are being enrolled in the relevant Unorganized Workers Welfare Boards so as to enable them to avail the benefits eligible to them under the respective schemes.
Labour Department has developed a comprehensive data base, which includes all details from the initial stage of survey to the end of prosecution of the case including rescue and rehabilitation of bonded labour.
Education lays the foundation for the development of a society and hunger becomes an impediment to learning. Keeping this vision, the Nutritious Meal Programme was introduced by the then Chief Minister Puratchi Thalaivar Dr. M.G.R. on 01.07.1982. The main objective of the programme is to emphasize on education along with nutrition. Under this programme free hot cooked nutritious meal is being provided to children in Government Schools, Government aided Schools, Special Training Centres, Madarasas, Maktabs supported under Sarva Shiksha Abiyan and also in Special Schools functioning under National Child Labour Programme.

Objectives of the Programme
• To maximize enrolment and reduce school dropout rates with a view to universalize elementary education.
• To provide nutrition to the under fed and under nourished children.
• To encourage children from disadvantaged background to attend school regularly and to help them in attaining formal education.
• To empower women by providing employment opportunities

Milestones of Nutritious Meal Programme
The Nutritious Meal Programme was introduced on 01.07.1982 for the Children in the age groups of 2 to 5 years in anganwadi and 5 to 9 years in primary schools. The scheme was extended to urban areas with effect from 15.09.1982 and further extended to all the children in the age group of 10-15 years from 15.09.1984.

Salient Features of the Scheme
• Primary School children in the age group of 5-9 years and Upper Primary School children in the age group of 10-15 years are provided with hot cooked nutritious variety meals in the school for five days in a week for a total of 210 days in a year.
• The children enrolled under National Child Labour Project Special Schools in 16 Districts viz., Kancheepuram, Vellore, Tiruvannamalai, Namakkal, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Salem, Coimbatore, Erode, Tiruppur, Thiruchirappalli, Dindigul, Virudhunagar, Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Chennai are also provided with hot cooked nutritious variety meals for 312 days in a year.
• Food grains (rice) @ 100 gm per child per school day for primary school children (1st Std. to 5th Std.) and @ 150 gm for upper primary and high school (6th Std. to 10th Std.) is provided.

Way Ahead:
1. Child labour is a vicious circle of poverty, unemployment, underemployment and low wages. There should be concerted effort towards social protection programmes and cash transfers to improve the economic situation of families and to reduce the “need” to send children to work
2. There is urgent need to revamp educational infrastructure- to ensure access to educational institutions, improvement in quality and relevance of education
3. There is a need to brig uniformity in existing Indian laws dealing with child labour. The laws must expand the definition of a child by prohibiting the employment of and ensuring free and compulsory education (RTE, Act, 2009) for children below 18 years
4. There is need to launch a national campaign to invoke public interest and large-scale awareness onexploitation of children and the menace of child labour.
5. Government should take adequate measures to raise awareness among families and communities. Parental literacy can play an important role in ensuring the rights of children are upheld.
6. Elimination of child labour demands commitment from the society e.g. family, state, civil society and those who employ children in any enterprises
7. Many NGOs like Bachpan Bachao Andolan, ChildFund, CARE India, Talaash Association, Child Rights and You, Global march against child labour, RIDE India, Child line, Kailash Satyarthi Children Foundation etc. have been working to eradicate child labour in India.