Over 58,000 Rescued In 2020-21 From Child Labour: Basics Explained

The number of children rescued or withdrawn from work has increased for the past four years, according to Union Labour and Employment Ministry data provided to the Lok Sabha.

                   In 2020-21, over 58,000 children were rescued across India from work, rehabilitated and mainstreamed under the National Child Labour Project, according to figures tabled by Minister of State for Labour and Employment Rameshwar Teli.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment is also implementing the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme since 1988 for the rehabilitation of child labourers. Under the NCLP, the children in the age group of 9-14 years are rescued/withdrawn from work and enrolled in the NCLP Special Training Centres, where they are provided with bridge education, vocational training, mid-day meal, stipend, health care, etc. before being mainstreamed into the formal education system.  The children in the age group of 5-8 years are directly linked to the formal education system through a close coordination with the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

Child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide – an increase of 8.4 million children in the last four years – with millions more at risk due to the impacts of Covid-19, according to a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Unicef.

“Child Labour: Global estimates 2020, trends and the road forward” – released ahead of World Day Against Child Labour – warns that progress to end child labour has stalled for the first time in 20 years, reversing the previous downward trend that saw child labour fall by 94 million between 2000 and 2016.

the UN has made 2021 the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, calling urgent action needed to meet a goal of ending the practice by 2025. Target 8.7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals calls for an end to child labour in all its forms by 2025.


  Complete eradication of child labour is a crucial issue for India as children are a major component of its population. According to the 2011 Census, the share of India’s population below 14 years is as high as 29 per cent while the young in the 14-18 age group constitute another 10 per cent.

  • India, in its 2011 census, estimated the country had 8.3 million child labourers. Uttar Pradesh state alone accounted for 1.8 million of that total. UNICEF says child labour has declined overall in India but its urban areas have seen an increase.
  • The Indian government’s 2011 census records about 4.3 million children between age of five and 14 years are working in hazardous and non-hazardous jobs. A damning report by International Labour Organization is claiming a much higher number.
  • ILO claims India has 10.3 million child labourers. Of these, whopping 70 percent are girls.
  • India in 2017 ratified two core ILO Conventions on child labour, namely ILO Convention 138 regarding the age of admission for employment and ILO Convention 182 that deals with the worst forms of child labour.

The Fundamental Rights enshrined in our Constitution prohibit child labour below the age of 14 years in any factor or mine or engaged in any hazardous employment under Article 24.

Article 21A and Article 45 promise to provide free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of 6 and 14.

Article 39(e) directs the state to ensure that health of workers be protected and children not to be exploited.

In 2009, India passed the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE).

In July 2016, India amended the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986, paving way for juveniles aged below 14 years to work in specific jobs only.

  1. It prohibits “the engagement of children in all occupations and of adolescents in hazardous occupations and processes” wherein adolescents refers to those under 18 years; children to those under 14.
  2. The act has completely banned employment of children below 14 in all occupations and enterprises, except those run by his or her own family, provided that education does not hampered.
  3. The number of hazardous occupations has been brought down from 83 to 3. The three occupations are mining, inflammable substances, and hazardous processes under the Factories Act.
  4. The act makes child labour a cognizable offence.

The Factories Act of 1948 prevents the employment of children below 14 years in any factory.

Further, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of children Act made the employment of children a punishable offence.


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