India's Census 2001 office defines child labour as participation of a child less than 17 years of age in any economically productive activity with or without compensation, wages or profit. I definitely support this and would condemn any such scenario where not just a child even if a grown up is employed but not paid. There is a big difference between unethical labour and an ethical work.
The meaning of labour is already known to you where in the child is deprived of its childhood and the work is harmful to its physical or mental development. However there are other types of simple work such as distributing newspapers, milk, vegetables to houses, assisting in accounting in general and provisional stores, painting pictures and making handicrafts for sale etc. There are a lot more of such examples which will not involve much of labour and are not at all hazardous in any format. These types of simple work just require few hours and dedicated interest and efforts for completions. The best part about them is that they pay back those who work as well. I honestly feel that children must be enrolled in such kinds of work for them to understand that 'every pie counts' as I said in my previous blog.
But what's the right age to put children for work? We have heard and seen that children in some of the foreign countries start earning their own living at the age of 11 or 12 and leave their homes to become independent. India is a different country for sure and hence the same model doesn't work out. Hence I recommend that 14 years must be an ideal age for children to start working part-time for at least 2 hours in a day. One main restriction should be that this work should be known and monitored by the child's parents. Though 18 is when Indians get the right to vote constitutionally, I feel that today's generation matures far ahead at the start of their teenage. By 14, when the child is in the high school, he/she would have understood the basics of adult work-life in this world and that must be the right time for them to experience it part-time as well.
This part-time work will definitely increase the seriousness towards life, cut off the unnecessary distractions, provide financial education and practical education of life, help them to develop time management skills and more positive impacts. Would really love to discuss more on this topic with all of you. Please write your opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org