Child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi, named co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, is credited with freeing tens of thousands of children working as cheap labour in homes, factories, construction and other jobs.
Satyarthi, 60, has been a leading activist against child labour in India, home to the largest number of working children in the world, according to the charity ChildLine, despite a 2010 law decreeing all youngsters between six and 14 must attend school.
Satyarthi, who trained as an electrical engineer, founded in 1980 the Bachpan Bachao Andolan or Save Childhood Movement which rescues children working in horrifying conditions. The movement has rescued 80,000 children till now across India.
The magnitude of Satyarthi's fight
According to census data, there were 12.6 million child labourers in 2001. In 2011, the number was 4.3 million. But according to many NGO sources there are 60 million child workers in India at present.
As per the latest data available, around 1.2 million children are working in hazardous conditions. Pan, bidi and cigarette manufacturing industries employ the largest number of child labourers, followed by construction business and domestic work.
The most challenging part of the struggle against child labour lies in bringing employers to justice. A large number of cases are filed against people who employ children but the conviction rate is very low.
Between 2011 and 2013, 35,151 cases were registered under child labor (prohibition and regulation) act, 1986. Out of which only 13,578 were prosecuted while a mere 3,077 (8% of the total cases registered) cases resulted in conviction.
In the same time period, Delhi had the highest number of cases (18,235) registered under child labour act, followed by Andhra Pradesh (8,866) and Punjab (2,393). However, the conviction rate in Delhi and Andhra Pradesh was less than 1%, while Punjab did better with a conviction rate of 60%.
With more than 4.3 million children out there to be rescued and with the conviction rates dwindling at less than 1% in some states, Kailash Satyarthi's fight against child labour is a tough one.
*It must be noted that the conviction rates for Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are not available yet. Moreover, these are the official statistics, the actual numbers may be higher.
Story Ideation and written by : Sourjya Bhowmick (@sourjyabhowmik)
Edited and visualized by : Vignesh Radhakrishnan (@vinuthewriter)