Out of school children comprise the workers and non workers. In our view they together signify a measure of deprivation among children and can be considered as a potential labour pool always being at the risk of entering the labour force
India is sadly the home to the largest number of child labourers in the world.
Poverty and lack of social security are the main causes of child labour. The increasing gap between the rich and the poor, privatization of basic services and the neo-liberal economic policies are causes major sections of the population out of employment and without basic needs. This adversely affects children more than any other group. Entry of multi-national corporations into industry without proper mechanisms to hold them accountable has lead to the use of child labour. Lack of quality universal education has also contributed to children dropping out of school and entering the labour force. A major concern is that the actual number of child labourers goes un-detected. Laws that are meant to protect children from hazardous labour are ineffective and not implemented correctly.
A growing phenomenon is using children as domestic workers in urban areas. The conditions in which children work is completely unregulated and they are often made to work without food, and very low wages, resembling situations of slavery. There are cases of physical, sexual and emotional abuse of child domestic workers.
Bonded child labour is a hidden phenomenon as a majority of them are found in the informal sector. Bonded labour means the employment of a person against a loan or debt or social obligation by the family of the child or the family as a whole. It is a form of slavery. Individual pledging of children is a growing occurrence that usually leads to trafficking of children to urban areas for employment and have children working in small production houses versus factories. Bonded child labourers are at very high risk for physical and sexual abuse and neglect sometimes leading to death. They often are psychologically and mentally disturbed and have not learnt many social skills or survival skills.