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Preamble to the Indian Constitution says: "We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to�secure to all its citizens justice, social, economic and political liberty�and equality of status and opportunity��
With the birth of girl-child named Astha, India's population officially hit the one billion mark, second only to China that stands at 1.4 billion. There are more children under the age of fourteen in India than the entire population of United States. This might have been a rosy picture but for the fact that India has the largest number of working children in the world ranging between 60 to 115 million.

In the tender age of five or six these children are made to work upto fifteen hours a day in stone quarries, fields, picking rags on city streets or as domestic servants. They are the children of a lesser God, they do not go to school, and through out their lifetime they possibly wouldn�t even have the barest skills of literacy. The Indian society is slowly being poisoned. The issue of child labor is not a social evil in isolation, hot on its heels are the consequences of child bondage and child prostitution.

Sandeshkhali (West Bengal), Oct1,2000.
Binu Sardar, the Oraon tribal girl from Gumla district of Jharkhand was sold off to mahajans in South 24 Parganas at the age of 3 as bonded labor to hunt tiger prawn larvae in the knee-deep muddy waters of Vidyadhari. Binu, at an age of 10, is today an invalid after she lost her right leg in a shark attack in the shallow waters. The mahajans pay about Rs 2,000 (about $45) per child. Once bought, these children never return home.

The Telegraph Oct 2, 2000

The most important fact that one has to keep in mind is that labor for these children is not just for a means of living but often a compulsion for mere existence. These children belong to extremely poor families where if they do not earn then the family does not get to eat. At times in our society riddled with cruel obligations, child labor comes to be a natural expectation for his or her cast.

The first Legislative Act relating to child labor was the Enactment of Children (Pledging of Labor) Act of February 1933. Since then the Government of India has passed nine different acts to stop child labor. The strategy of progressive elimination of child labor underscores India's legislative intent, and takes observance of the fact that child labor is not an isolated phenomenon that can be effectively handled without simultaneously taking into account the socio-economic elements that are at the root of the problem. Within the Indian social fabric child labor comes to be accepted very naturally. In a case similar to abolition of slavery in America, child labor needs to be first accepted as a grave social evil first, which even after so many legislations is not an accepted fact.

New Delhi, September 19, 2000
The Delhi Police rescued 19 children between the age groups 6 to 12 in a village east of Kailash. Their parents for Rs 1500 each sold these children. They worked upto 16 hours daily and were allowed 1 meal daily, be it lunch or dinner.

Indian Express, Sept 11, 2000
    The Bonded Labor System (Abolition) Act, 1976 prohibits the use of children in any "hazardous employment", which includes most industries into which children are bonded like fire works, match
sticks etc. However one needs to understand that bonded labor is an outcome of debts. Looking beyond legislative corrections, the government needs to understand the basic socio-economic building blocks that lead to child labor. The children who are sold off as bonded labors work long hours over several years to pay off the debts. Due to the outrageously high rates of interest charged and very low wages, they are usually unsuccessful. As they reach maturity, the employer in favor of a newly indebted and younger child may release some of them. Many others will pass the debt on, intact or even higher, to a younger sibling, back to a parent, or on to their own children. Thereby an entire generation gets roped into free labor. It is very obvious that mere Acts cannot break the vicious circle of poverty; for this we need active participation of NGOs at mirco level within the broad legislative framework.
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