Child Labour in India: Abolished or No one cares about it anymore?
The parliament of India passed the THE CHILD LABOUR (PROHIBITION AND REGULATION) AMENDMENT BILL, 2016 in the recent session of parliament. This particular amendment has attracted much debate in the country and many international organizations. Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) founder and Nobel Peace prize winner Kailash Satyarthi had earlier told TOI that the changes would lead to further “victimisation of children” in their poverty. UNICEF along with other organisations had also expressed concerns regarding the provisions made in this amendment. However the government defends its stand saying the amendment would only strengthen the process of child labour abolition in India. But seems like, hardly anyone among the common citizens in India are aware of it or care for it anymore?
In 1979, Government of India had constituted a committee called Gurupadswamy Committee to study the issue of child labour and to suggest measures to tackle it. The outcome of the recommendations by the Gurupadswamy Committee was Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, that was enacted in 1986. Many amendments have been made in the past including the 2012 amendments and the most recent ones which were passed by the parliament in July 2016. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, prohibits the employment of children younger than 14 in 83 occupations and processes, and “regulates the conditions of work of children” in all others. The CLPR Amendment Bill, 2012, however, bans all child labour, irrespective of sector, up to age 14.
The key changes made in the 2016 amendments are:
- Any child under the age of 14 cannot be employed in any occupation or enterprise
- The only notable exclusion will come in the form of family enterprises
- Children below the age of 14 can work for their family enterprise or farms only after school hours or during holidays
- The bill also bars the employment of adolescents in occupations that deal with hazardous working conditions, such as chemical plants and mines.
The major concerns are expressed on the facts that this amendment slashed many occupations in the “hazardous” category, which allows children to work at a few places which were banned previously. Also, the act allows children below 14 years of age to work in their family enterprises. The government justifies this inclusion by the fact that there are many traditional family businesses in India that are passed on the children and the act facilitates to carry forward those traditions, further giving a push to the skill development programme of the government.
Although the past and present governments have passed various amendments to strengthen the process of child labour abolition, the problem has been in the implementation of these acts at grass root levels. Even after more than 35 years since the first act was passed, child labour is very much prevalent in many parts of India today. However, an important point that needs to be made is how many of the common citizens in India are concerned about it anymore? Is anyone aware of what would be the repercussions of the decisions taken by government, good or bad? No! The answer is a NO!
The fact of the matter remains that most of our policies or acts are paralysed by implementation problems. Yes, it is the government responsibility to look into the implementation. But it is also a citizen’s responsibility to LOOK AROUND themselves in their society and think as to what could be their little contribution in aiding the government! Unless we start giving a push to our own society, we have no grounds to blame the ones in power.
Child labour is an effect of poverty and lack of education. Children working in industries or family businesses start with working part time to help their families financially, soon to drop out of their schools to join the work full time. Along with acting against poverty, one also needs to emphasize the need for education to these kids. One contribution that we the citizens could make is save 1% of our salaries every month and donate it to a child’s education! Or make groups of friends and sponsor a child’s education every year! Difficult? May be not! Just needs a mindset.
Every 1 in 11 children in India are working as child labourers (source: International Labour Organization’s World Report on Child Labour 2015 and CRY recent analysis of the Census 2011). A group of 11 people should be sufficient to fund a child’s education and well being ? Just a thought! Look around you! And you would find someone that needs that tiny hand of help and motivation to get rescued from child labour exploitation!
LETS ALL STAND UNITED TO STOP CHILD LABOUR!
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