Child Labour is a big menace in India. According to the 2011 census, as many as 10.1 million children are working in the country, as “main” or “marginal” workers. In addition to this, more than 42.7 million children in India are out of school.
In India itself, some states are doing worse than others when it comes to this. - Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are the country’s biggest child labour employers, with over half of India's total child labour population working here.
There are several reasons for the child labour epidemic in the country, Parents make children work in cigarette and firecrackers factories, as daily labourers and as rag pickers in the hope of gaining incremental income from their efforts. The inefficient schooling system and the prominent role of caste in our society also influence parents in the lower strata of society to make them work. Another reason is that since these families have all their members working outside on a daily wage, there is no option but to take their children to work, due to the inability of the option of leaving them at home.
The State of Bangalore
The city of Bangalore has pegged the number of child labourers at 3,344. With the developing city having numerous construction projects in full flow, many people from lower-income groups come to Bangalore in search of work and often take up construction work to earn wages daily.
However, the workers who have kids are often known to bring their kids to these construction sites as well, due to lack of an alternative.
This act in itself is dangerous, due to the ever-present threat and unhygienic conditions at a construction site. Therefore, the chance of a dangerous injury or an uneventful mishap is always high, posing a threat to the children’s safety.
To counter this problem, the Labour Department in Bangalore has come with a unique solution to cater to this problem. The state government is all set to start its first mobile crèche service in Bangalore.
Old Buses Converted To Crèches!
The Karnataka Government has decided to launch a first of its kind crèche service for kids of labourers which will be placed near the construction sites where their parents go to work. These buses will be procured and, painted in bright colours to attract kids, revamped with the help of artists.
For this, the government plans on using old discarded Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation(BMTC) and Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses, intending to turn them into play stations for the children. The procurement of 100 such buses has already been given permission.
With 25 lakhs allotted to the project, these mobile crèches are expected to be fully decked up with several facilities to offer. Stocked with toys and books, the mobile vans hope to keep the kids interested, offering a safe space for them to learn and spend their day. The department also plans to provide healthy snacks to the kids in the morning.
Once the buses have been procured and refurbished, the department will hand over these buses, they will be handed over to NGOs who will be in charge of running them.
Several steps are needed to completely eradicate Child labour from our country. Stringent laws, improved education services and increased awareness can go a long way in eradicating this social evil. This unique step taken by the Karnataka government is surely in the right direction. Here’s hoping that other states learn from this and follow suit!