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Child labor in India: Assessing the efficiency of legal tools and governmental policy

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  1. Introduction
  2. The child labor system in India is intentionally perpetuated because it serves the interests of various actors
    1. The extent of the child labor phenomenon in India
    2. Several actors - companies, unprivileged families, upper castes - collude to preserve the status quo
  3. Legal framework in place against child labor is inefficient and weak
    1. Various laws regulate child labor, but their loopholes and the lack of enforcement make them inefficient
    2. Governmental initiatives, programs and policies in place have limited ambitions and face challenges with regard to their enforcement
    3. International tools, though successful as legal tools on the global level, fail to be concretized at the local level
  4. What are some potential legal and economic solutions to the issue of child labor?
    1. Improving the economic situation on a wide scale: economic development as a prerequisite in the fight against child labor
    2. Creating strong enforcement mechanisms for the existing laws
    3. Establishing compulsory and free primary education in order for schooling to appeal to unprivileged families
    4. Cooperating with domestic and international corporations to dissuade them from employing children
  5. Conclusion

Child labor is a widely condemned practice which can have staggering effects on the health and wellbeing of children, as it can often involve toiling in mines or quarries, being exposed to harmful chemical substances, or sitting and standing for long hours in dreadful conditions. In response to this plight, which is still shared by millions of children in developing countries today, a principle of protection of children's rights has emerged under the aegis of the human rights movement. This principle finds a concrete manifestation in many international conventions and legal texts.

However, in most emerging or third-world countries, economic necessity and the process of economic development demand a very large workforce, prompting companies to resort to abundant and cheap child labor. Under pressure from international organizations and bodies of law, the States fostering this phenomenon have been compelled to adopt laws and policies aimed at fighting child labor. India has notably enshrined the prohibition of child labor in its first independent Constitution, and has since described in more detail the extent of this prohibition (which is not comprehensive), in its 1986 Child Labor Act.

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