Activists write to Modi on plan to dilute child labour law

Article Source :The Times of India

Date of Issue :4h May, 2015

Title of Article :Activists write to Modi on plan to dilute child labour law

Details :The Centre’s proposal to amend the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, is not something Bengaluru’s activists agree with. The amendment will allow children between 14 years and 18 years to work in non-hazardous, select family enterprises without letting it affect their education.

In an email to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other MPs, activists have demanded that the Centre revisit the proposal that will exempt certain family enterprises like farming from being labelled child labour. “All forms of child labour must be prohibited (up to 18 years) and it must be ensured that children get a good education,” said the appeal which was prepared through a resolution passed at an emergency meeting convened at the Centre for Child and Law (CCL) in National Law School of India University on April 23.

Arguing that the proposal to divide children into two categories—children (0-14) and adolescents (14-18) based on the recommendations of the National Advisory Council is unacceptable, CCL said: “It is ridiculous from the point of progressive realization of child rights.” The Parliamentary Standing Committee has also asked the government to review its proposal regarding the definition of a child. While the Act aims to abolish child labour, a sub-section of the proposed Bill provides immunity to family businesses that are not hazardous.

CCL said the standing committee had asked the labour ministry to review the meaning of hazardous processes and widen the definition to include all those processes that may jeopardize health, safety and morals of adolescents, which the ministry paid no heed to. Stating that exempting certain occupations from child labour laws is a violation of the Right to Education Act Niranjan Aradhya VP, fellow, CCL, said: “If we propose another law that takes away this right to education, how will children attend school? Any activity that prevents a child from attending school is child labour and must be abolished.”

Samuel Sathyaseelan from CCL said that even if the work is after school hours, it will obstruct a child’s right to rest and indulge in recreation, which may eventually result in the child discontinuing from school. Komal Ganotra of Child Rights and You said, “Agriculture-based work, for instance, requires seven to eight hours a day. In some cases, children have to wake up at 3am to pluck jasmine flowers. The work is done by 6.30am and then they leave to school. This will affect their performance in school.”