Child Labour: A case of Patna, Bihar
COVID-19 Pandemic has adversely affected many families especially people with underprivileged background. With increasing unemployment and uncertainity, school drop-outs have increased, thereby pushing more children into the shackles of child labour. However the situation in Bihar, before the pandemic, was not satisfactory either. An article in TOI stated that almost 11% of child workers are from Bihar. The numbers are alarming, and the pandemic has only made the situation worse.
The following articles gives a picture of Bihar before the pandemic hit it:
The articles projects a very grim picture. Next up is an article focusing on the situation prevailing during the pandemic:
Paid only Rs 2000, beaten up: One of the 900 children trafficked from Bihar to work in Jaipur bangle factories
All these articles are enough to give us an idea about the pervasive nature of child labour in Bihar. After reading articles dealing with child labour and keeping Bihar in the backdrop, following are my assessments:
Due to poor governance and negligence, literacy rate is only 70.9% which is the third worst performance in the country. Poor literacy rate have various implications from unemployment among adults to child labour among children.
Bihar has an agriculture driven economy. Due to inaccessibility of machines and lack of knowledge about technology based farming, most farmers in Bihar resort to manpower. As a result, more children are pushed into child labour. This situation is in tandem with global reports that agriculture sector is the biggest contributor of child labour.
Being situated in the plains Bihar is prone to flood. Every year Bihar is affected by flood. Many people are rendered homeless and jobless. As a result, many children are forced to assume the role of breadwinners.
Inspite of producing maximum numbers of civil servants and IITians, Bihar doesn’t have a role model to look upto. People excelling in studies leave their native place and situate in a different state. Hardly esteemed individuals pay a visit to their homeland. With no real life story to look upto, poor families don’t see the wonders that education is capable of performing.
Mismanagement in Public Distribution System(PDS) have resulted in irregularities in food grains supply. Poor quality of food grains or giving less than the quantity fixed by the government are some other corrupt practices prevalent in PDS. This has resulted in more number of starving families, and more number of child labourers.
People in Bihar have a primitive mindset. They believe in carrying forward their family profession. A farmer expect his child(preferably son) to take up his role in future. To fulfil this, he starts taking his son on field visits and discourage him to take up any other profession.
These are some of the many factors causing the menace of child labour in Bihar. Any development in this regard will require a systematic change in governance and mindset. The starting point could be the redressal of above mentioned problems by:
Enhancement of primary and secondary education in government schools
Introduction of tech-based farming in the agricultural sector. Subsidizing the procurement of seeds and machines so that maximum investment can be done by the family in their child’s education.
Prompt disaster mechanism should be set up in Bihar to deal with the havoc of floods
People moving out of Bihar should acknowledge their roots and make visits to their villages to raise awareness about education.
Corruption in the PDS should be thoroughly investigated to ensure continuous availability and accessibility of food grains
Changing mindsets will require a lot of awareness but their has been progress. Gradually people are realising importance of education and are encouraging their children to pursue higher education. The effort should continue.
Sukanya Samriddhi Account
The scheme was launched by PM Modi as a part of Beti Bachao, Beth Padhao campaign. The scheme is meant to meet the education and marriage expenses of a girl child. Its a national level scheme.
Beneficiary/Eligibility : The following people are eligible to open SSA
Age of girl child should not exceed 10 years
She should be a resident citizen of India
Account cannot be opened for more than two girl children in a single family
Minimum investment amount to Rs.250
The following article guides to open a SSA: