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At 440 million, India has the highest number of children in the world. Equally high is the number of child labourers. As per government figures, around 12.6 million children are involved in labour. For all we know, the numbers may be rising as we speak.

The Right to Education Act ensures free and compulsory education to all children up to 14 years of age. Despite this, many children are found toiling in hotels, dhabas, homes, cigarette and cracker factories and farms. Child labour robs these children off their right to education and the opportunity to grow in a healthy and wholesome atmosphere.

There is an urgent need to put an end to child labour. With this objective in mind Bal Raksha Bharat is organising a 45 day Anti-child Labour Campaign. The campaign started on 30 April which is Anti-Child Labour Day and will go on till 12 June, 2013 which is World Day Against Child Labour. The campaign will run in the national capital Delhi as well as states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir and Andhra Pradesh. In these 45 days, we want to involve the youth, parents, children, community members and policy makers to act against the exploitative child labour practices in India, and ensure that all children are in school.

The campaign was kicked off on 1 May 2013 with the launch event at Select City Walk, a mall in South Delhi. The event witnessed the gathering of a large number of people from all walks of life, pledging their support against child labour. There were musical performances by the Delhi Drum Community and The Sri Ram School band, theatre by Asmita and Badhte Kadam a children’s group and testimonials by former child labourers. Those who were present at the event pledged that they would not employ children in their homes or business establishments, and also not buy products which involve child labour.

The event was a huge success and it was encouraging to see the overwhelming support we received from the general public. The campaign had an equally positive launch in other states as well. In Pune, a group of children had met the Deputy Collector asking for a ban on child labour in the district. They were seen carrying placards and performed street plays to create awareness on issue of child labour. In Odisha people came together to sign the pledge against child labour, formed a human chain and performed skits with the singular aim of spreading awareness against the evil of child labour. Jharkhand, West Bengal and Delhi launched the campaign by organising drawing competitions for children and sensitisation programmes on child labour and its ill-effects.

The fight against child labour, however, doesn’t end here. Bal Raksha Bharat needs the support of children, students, the youth, professionals – everyone- in full measure to make this campaign a success for the millions of children who deserve a childhood. We urge you to make a start by giving a missed call on 080-3008-8424 or by pledging at http://bit.ly/16jUspZ, to show your support against child labour and make it possible for children to be free to pursue their dreams.

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