Atanu Dey On India's Development

Outlawing Child Labor

My position is that child labor is not the problem, but rather it is the symptom of a different underlying problem. Merely outlawing child labor will not fix the underlying problem any more than malnutrition will be fixed by outlawing hunger.

Also see related post on Banning Child Labor on this blog.

Your thoughts?

  • http://wateronlotus.blogspot.com Raghuveer

    Atanu,

    You frequently talk about diagnosing a problem completely before formulating or implementing a solution. Reading your previous post and the comments, I do agree child labor is a stark symptom of poverty.

    Given how our governments works, it is futile to expect that the other/follow-up steps you suggested will ever be implemented by our mandarins. But if they do, maybe the ban itself is a good first step. Because if we wait till we get everything right, well, we’ll be waiting forever…

    Unfortunately, the governance in India has gone to such depths that people readily ask how will it be enforced (and this is a valid question) – but I guess the same argument can be made with respect to implementing the mid-day meal scheme and so forth. On the face of it, I feel that stopping child employment is a lot easier to enforce that any of the others. Hence if taken as a first step, with sufficient follow-up, it is a good law.

    One parallel I can think of is Indira Gandhi banning bonded labor…while I do not know what follow-up actions were taken, am VERY sure that a holistic approach was not taken at the time of the decision. Still the problem has been eliminated to a great extent from what we can see.

  • http://apunkadesh.blogspot.com/ Apun Ka Desh

    Pea sized ideas are mooted by people with pea sized brains. The babu’s and neta’s should address the root cause. But why would they – how will they win next elections if they did?

  • http://valluvar.blogspot.com shiv

    Actually the governance of india is par for the course. The great unwashed public of this republic should look inward. Standard of living, poverty etc are measures that are not absolute. They are always relative to some other standard. IMHO, if you dont die of starvation you are above the poverty line. First rule of political science “Every population gets the goverment it deserves”…

  • http://sloganmurugan.blogspot.com SloganMurugan

    nuclear bomb is more important

  • Pankaj

    I think private-public partnership can work in this situation too. Providing access to the ‘business of education’ will free it from regulatory shackles. Private enterprise can make decent educational institutions. Also, availability of choices (in terms of education provider) and thus building of infrastructure to train millions will further the cause of education and create employment simultaneously.
    Stressing on the infrastructure for education is the single most important thing. Children will have to do something of their time. If they do not goto school they will goto work (it may not be what society desires and millions can go astray and cause harm). Banning child labour without creating other avenues can be disastrous in multiple ways. Atanu has mentioned a few effect, to reiterate them and may be a few more: It will lead to more poverty and difficult life for working children and their families. Increase in corruption and behind the closed door employment of children (restricting enforcement of law, worse living conditions for children). Increase in corruption by the enforcement authorities.
    To ensure effectiveness of child labour ban, we can associate ‘social stigma’. Through awareness campaign, employers can be denounced publicly and that will help reduce it. For this solution to work we will need creative and constructive campaigners.
    I shall reiterate the importance of education resources for children and meaningful rewards (day meals or small vouchers to support expenses) need to be established for child labour ban to be effective and have positive impact on the children who sustain such life and for the society in general.

  • http://onepass.blogspot.com/2005/08/no-sarcasm-or-hypocrisy-please.html Jawahar Mundlapati

    I agree.
    Prevention is better than cure for all social and economic problems.