For the last decade or two, an interesting debate has been in progress over the definition of child labour and child work and the contribution of children's work in the informal economy. This paper examines the definitions of child labour and child work, specifically looking at the case of child labourers and workers in India. This paper argues that the distinction at the conceptual level between child labour and child work is essentially flawed, and that it should be abandoned both at the level of theory and practice. It also argues that while child labour narrowly defined is difficult to eradicate, child labour broadly defined can be easier tackled. The author concludes that what is required is a nationwide discussion on the issue of child labour and child work so that there is greater conceptual clarity about the economic contribution of children to the economy. The children’s rights movement and public policy and programme needs to understand the extent to which the Indian economy, in all its varied forms, is built on the life and work of its children. It is only when there is recognition of the widespread use and abuse of child labour in its many forms, that India's people and the state will recognise that economies cannot be built on the backs of children.