How The Chahal Foundation is Fighting Child Labor in India

Gurbaksh Chahal visiting a school in the slums of Mumbai, India.

The Chahal Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that was renamed by Gurbaksh Chahal on 17th July 2014 to broaden its scope. The Foundation strives to restore dreams and hopes of different communities across the world. Today, the organization is making meaningful impact on the lives of the less fortunate across the world. This was the ambitious mission of this organization when it started. Chahal Foundation is based on the premise that people all over the world share universal rights and common dreams. These include dreams and rights to happiness, better education, fearless and better life. Currently, the Foundation is transforming the lives of the less privileged children in India and several other countries. Chahal Foundation is working hard to bring hope, save the future, and restore dreams of children that are subjected to child labor in India.

The Big Picture

Students being provided with basic necessities, customized for each school.

According to a 2011 census by UNICEF, India has more than 10.2 million children that are economically active. These are children aged between 4 and 14 years. The census showed that 8 million children were working in the rural areas while 2 million were working in the urban areas. It further revealed that the most prevalent forms of child labor included manual work, cotton growing, domestic work, and informal sector jobs at match box, lock and brass making factories. Other factories that engage children in manual work include rag-picking, embroidery, mining, stone quarrying, tea gardens, and brick kilns among others.

In India, child labor is usually gender-specific. For instance, girls perform more home-based or domestic work while boys engage in wage labor. Older children have larger workloads and they tend to work for more hours. Getting detailed and accurate information about child labor in India is a challenge due to the informal nature of the sectors that employ children.

Hazardous Work Environment

Children playing outside their schools in rural India.

The Chahal Foundation has established that many children in places like Utter Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra work in hazardous conditions. For instance, in 2015 the National Child Labor Project rescued over 35,000 children from hazardous work and conditions and took them to rehabilitation centers. Some of these children were engaged in the worst types of child labor like hybrid cotton seeds and garments production.

Unfortunately, India has a legal framework that is inconsistent with the international standards. That’s because it does not prohibit labor from children that are below 14 years of age. Additionally, the framework does not prescribe hazardous work for kids or provide legal protection against domestic or household-based child labor. Therefore, Indian children have persistently been employed because they provide cheap labor and they are pliable to employers’ demands. Even worse, children don’t know their rights.

Long-term Effects

Gurbaksh encouraging girls to stay in school and supporting the school infrastructure. Millions of girls drop out each year, because they don’t have access to gender specific toilets.

Child labor exposes innocent children to risks that can have irreversible physical, moral, and psychological impact on their health, wellbeing, and overall development. For instance, since children are not skilled, experienced, or strong like adults, they are likely to have more physical accidents while working in hazardous conditions. Ideally, most working conditions that are healthy and safe for adults are unhealthy and unsafe for children due to their physical differences. That means Indian children are exposed to greater risks and possible long-term effects of child labor.

Children that provide labor in the agricultural sectors are exposed to pesticides, sharp tools, and machinery as well as conditions that put them at a higher risk of developing health problems, injuries, and even fatalities. Psychologically, working on regular basis hurts the educational and social development of children.

For instance, children that work for long hours are associated with aggression, substance abuse, and misconduct. Overworking children can also cause problems like sleep deprivation and possible school dropout. Generally, some forms of child labor can have traumatic impact not just on the children but also on the society. That’s because when kids drop out of school or fail to concentrate on their education, they will most likely not amount to important people in the future. That means the society will lack skilled people or professionals that can lead to its development.

The Chahal Foundation in Action

The Chahal Foundation’s Ground Team in one of the sponsored schools in New Delhi, India.

The Chahal Foundation is working round the clock to end child labor. Currently, the Foundation has programs that focus on ending child labor in India. For instance, the Foundation is enabling children to go to school and ensuring that they have safe learning environments. It’s also working hard to provide basic facilities that kids in other places take for granted. These include libraries, meals, and playgrounds. Currently, there are many children that go hungry in India. Some schools don’t have toilets and this compels many kids to drop out of school every year.

In fact, The Chahal Foundation is restoring the dream of getting an education among kids that considered it impossible in the past. Remember that though many NGOs say that there are about 12 million kids that are engaged in child labor in India, the actual figure might be higher. According to UNICEF, India has more laborers that are aged less than 14 years than any other country in the world. And, majority of these laborers engage in hazardous jobs. The Foundation strives to make a difference by sharing hope and dreams as well as saving the future of children that are already engaged or likely to be engaged in child labor.

Play your Role

Children making a pledge to stay in school as founder Gurbaksh Chahal gives his speech.

The community has a role to play in ending child labor. Remember that child labor’s complex nature makes combating it difficult. That’s because child labor is mostly in the informal sectors like motor repair shops, restaurants, home-based industries, and agriculture. Therefore, a coordinated action that involves all stakeholders is required to end child labor in India. Thus, NGOs, mass media, educational institutions, and other community stakeholders including employers, trade unions, and individuals have a significant role to play.

The entire community needs to change its mindsets and attitudes towards child labor. It should be more determined to ensure that all children attend school and get an opportunity to learn, socialize, and play with other children.

Education is important in ending child labor. Therefore, the Indian community should work hard to expand access to education or schools by children. It should also improve relevance and quality of education, address violence in learning institutions, and provide relevant vocational training.

The community should also support other non-profit organizations like The Chahal Foundation that are working hard to end child labor in India.

The Chahal Foundation “Let’s Make Them Smile” Campaign

To read more about, our founder, Gurbaksh Chahal and you can read his blogs at BeLimitless.
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