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‘Amendments will promote child labour’

Article Source :HT Syndication

Date of Issue :13th April, 2015

Title of Article : ‘Amendments will promote child labour’

Details : Child rights activists have expressed apprehensions that the proposed amendments to the Child Labour Prohibition Act will promote the menace, besides being difficult to implement.

Reacting to the amendments, Komal Ganotra of child rights advocacy group CRY said given their experience, children have to work for six to seven hours in family-owned enterprises after spending hours in school.

The government is likely to introduce a number of amendments such as exempting children working in family-owned enterprises from the purview of the law.

Reacting to the amendments, Komal Ganotra of child rights advocacy group CRY said given their experience, children have to work for six to seven hours in family-owned enterprises after spending hours in school.

No nutrition survey in India in last 10 years

Article Source :Times of India

Date of Issue :5th April, 2015

Title of Article : No nutrition survey in India in last 10 years; Bangladesh performs better

Details : They may have lower growth rates than India, but Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal are more prompt about conducting regular surveys on the nutritional status of their population. The last nutrition survey done in India was ten years ago despite its unacceptably high levels of malnutrition. During this period, neighbouring nations have completed two surveys.

There has been no district level nutritional survey in India since 2002, more than 13 years back. National Statistical Commission chairman Pronab Sen when speaking at a round-table event on nutrition data said that there was “too little nutrition data” for policy makers and the new National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data would be crucial for rolling out new policy programmes to address malnutrition and other health issues.

“There is enough evidence to show a huge variance in the status of nutrition of children in tribal and non-accessible areas in a state vis-a-vis urban areas. For any nutrition or health scheme to be planned and implemented, it is therefore essential to have the district level data. However, it is ironic that the ‘latest’ government data for districts available is 13 years old (DLHS -2, 2002). It is appalling that the planning of our nutrition related schemes is being done primarily based on the state data, without taking into consideration the critical variance within the states with respect to the most affected and marginalized,” said Komal Ganotra, director of policy, research and advocacy in the NGO CRY – Child Rights and You.

The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), a maternal and child nutritional programmes, is supposedly on a mission mode in almost 200 backward districts to address malnutrition. Districts are supposed to draw up a project implementation plan (PIP). But district ICDS officers are expected to draw up the PIP on the basis of 13 year old data.

After NFHS 3 in 2005-06, the field work for NFHS-4 is currently on. After data collection there is the laborious and time-consuming process of checking data quality, verifying data, cross checking and then analysis. The data is not expected before the end of this year and district level data from it might not be available till well into 2016. The first round of NFHS survey took place in 1992-93, the second round in 1998-99 and the third round in 2005-6, after which there have been none.

Data from the Rapid Survey on Children (RSOC) carried out by Unicef and the women and child development (WCD) ministry in 2013 is yet to be made available. The data was sent to the health ministry for review about six months back by the WCD ministry, but nothing has moved since. Even the district level household and facility survey (DLHS) in 2013 did not provide any district-level nutritional data. Even if, as RSOC national level data suggests, stunting levels among children has fallen from 48% to 39%, it is still very high and probably masks much higher levels of undernutrition at state and district level.

Are we ready to protect our children

Article Source :IBN LIVE

Date of Issue :15th May, 2015

Title of Article :Are we ready to protect our children from the spectre of Child Labour?

Details :The Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act (CLPRA) enacted in 1986 was based on the recommendations of various committees and prohibits employment of children less than 14 years in certain specified hazardous occupations and processes and regulates the working conditions in others.

In 1992 India ratified the United Nation Convention on Rights of Children (UNCRC), a reservation on Article 32 of the Convention was made, wherein the Government of India articulated that it will ban all forms of child labour in a progressive manner and in accordance to the resources available.

In 2009, the right to free and compulsory act said that children between 6-14 years should have access to free and compulsory education and since then there has been a need to re-look at the CLPRA and amend it. The 2012 Amendment Bill was introduced in the Parliament and was subsequently referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee in 2013. The Standing Committee in its report on December 13, 2013 laid down certain observations and recommendations on the Amendment Bill.

The Ministry of Labour on June 16, 2014 uploaded their comments to the Parliamentary Standing Committee and is soon set to re-introduce the bill in the Parliament. The bill is not presently available in the public domain and therefore this stance is based on information provided in media reports.

Defining Children
Internationally children are defined as those in the 0-18 age group, but in India, the definition of child is different as per different laws. The provisions of the bill bans all forms of employment for children up to 14 years but bans only a small set of employments including that of in factories, mines and explosives for children in the age group of 14 – 18 years.

Our experience tells us that children between the age group of 15 to 18 years are equally if not more vulnerable to exploitative and abusive situations and need to be treated as children. Children in the age group of 14-18 are employed as labourers in multiple sectors, including construction work, at motor garages, transport sector, agricultural fields, domestic labour, leather units, bangle making etc that render them vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and hazards. Hence there was an insistence towards a complete child labour ban up to the age of 18 years.

Hazardous and non hazardous occupations
In the 1986 CLPRA, the list of hazardous employments includes 18 occupations and 66 processes listed in the schedule. This list was arrived at by recommendation of the Central technical Advisory committee over the years and various Supreme Court Judgements. Although the bill bans the employment of children in the age group of 14-18 in hazardous employment but the list of hazardous employments is re-drawn and restricted to include employment in Mines, Explosives and factories only, which remains a very narrow interpretation of the term hazardous.

In reality there are no specific parameters or standards used to derive this interpretation of hazardous and therefore many employments like construction labour, domestic labour, working at brick kilns and all other forms of unorganized labour could technically and in reality employ children in the age group of 14-18 years. What is worrisome is that the amendment proposal limiting the hazardous employments is a blatant attempt at aligning it to the existing list that falls in the Factories Act of 1948. Do labour legislations take prominence over our social obligations to our children? CRY strongly recommends that the list of hazardous occupations be looked at comprehensively.

There needs to be a clear consensus on the fact that the Factories Act is essentially regulatory in nature while the Child Labour Act is protection oriented and has greater social implications. We advocate for a scientific, evidenced based process of determining hazardous labour. It is vital that the additions of the Central Technical Advisory Committee as well as the Supreme Court judgments which were based on evidence and discourse be taken into account and included in the proposal.

Work of children below 14 years not prohibited in family based employments
The bill allows that children below 14 years be allowed to engage in home based work (as part of the assistance child may provide to his or her family). This becomes a clear violation of the child’s right to protection as well as development specially children from the poor and marginalized sections who may end up taking up economic roles very early in life. How will the state ensure that children will ‘assist’ only after school hours? It is hard to miss the irony here! Are we ok with the fact India will then be a country that implicitly allows for Child labour to remain alive covertly in homes?

Provision for Rescue and Rehabilitation of children
A CRY study done in Mumbai along with DCPCR (Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights) reveal major concerns about rescue procedures and reflect that most rescued children are restored to families but not rehabilitated and therefore continue to remain vulnerable to be employed again. The Parliamentary Standing Committee had recommended that the act should be comprehensive to cover all the aspects viz. identifying child labour or adolescents in hazardous occupations, rescuing them, rehabilitating and retaining them in schools till the completion of elementary education.

Given that this is the primary legislation that covers rescue and rehabilitation of child labour, there needs to be explicit reference to the roles of the labour department beyond inspection. There is a need to strengthen the role and accountability of the enforcement machinery (labour department) in rescue, post rescue processes, interstate coordination for restoration and rehabilitation. The framework of rehabilitation is presently based on the recommendation of the Judgement of the Supreme Court in the MC Mehta case. According to the judgement a sum of Rs 20,000 is recovered from the employers of rescued child labour. This amount along with additional Rs 5000 from the state government is deposited in the district child labour fund for each rescued child and the said fund is supposed to be used for rehabilitation of the rescued children. Experiences in many states reveal that money has been recovered and deposited in these funds but in most cases the benefit has not reached children.

For instance, the study conducted by DCPCR in Delhi revealed that rescued children were restored to their families in the other states by the Child Welfare Committees under the Juvenile Justice System and the recovered money was transferred by the Labour department to respective states/ district but there was no coordination. The benefit of this fund was never channelized to the children. Mechanisms of interstate transfer and the disbursal process need to be spelt out along with the setting up of specific mandates on the responsibilities of different stakeholders.

Destined to direct

Article Source :The Hindu

Date of Issue :14th May, 2015

Title of Article :Destined to direct

Details :“It all happened serendipitously,” says Pravin. When he was learning French at the Alliance Francaise, one of his professors asked him why was he not in the drama class. “I really don’t know what he saw in me,” says Pravin. Out of respect for the teacher he casually attended one of the classes. “The energy there instantly attracted me. I became a regular thereafter,” he adds.

Professionally trained in theatre at the Strasbourg school of Theatre, France, Pravin co-founded Magic Lantern Theatre along with Hans Koushik and E. Kumaravel. Having directed ‘Don Juan’ and ‘Caligula’ for Koothu-p-pattarai, Pravin went on to direct ‘Wings and Masks’ (contemporary dance), ‘Fables’, ‘Jeremy’, ‘Veshakkaran’, ‘Mashali Mohalla’ and ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ for Magic Lantern. He has played a pivotal role in many theatre and artists symposiums in Europe and theatre forums in India.

A chance meeting with abstractionist Bhagwan Chavan at an art exhibition in Alliance Francaise drew Pravin into the world of painting. “Initially, I went to ask him about his painting as I was not able to comprehend. At that time he was not familiar with French and wanted to learn the language. We came to a mutual agreement that I would teach him French and in turn he would teach me painting. In fact, he taught me the importance of observation. I got the feel of the light and shadows, dimensions and perspectives. The ‘barter’ system worked well for me,” he chuckles.

Pravin has showcased his art works in Chennai, Bombay and Bangalore. Born and brought up in coastal towns of Kochi, Mangalore and Chennai, images of coastal life unfailingly find a way into his paintings.

Pravin came to Alliance Francaise as a Zoology student more interested in genetics and cytology and with an urge to learn the language. But by the time he finished his French classes his focus was more on theatre. Pravin learnt the theatrical nuances from French theatre director Sylvain Pieplu, who was in charge of the classes. When Sylvain left, Alliance Francaise entrusted the job of directing plays to Pravin. Pravin’s professionalism earned him a scholarship to France to hone his skills in theatre.

In France, he had the privilege of visiting the Avignon Theatre Festival. “It is one of the biggest theatre festivals in the world. Spread over 14 days, classical and cotemporary plays from all over the world were staged. For the first time I was exposed to theatre activity of that magnitude. I watched over 60 plays in 15 days,” he says.

At the Theatre du Soleil he met the famed directors Peter Brookes and Ariane Mnouchkine. “By that time I had watched the film version of Peter Brookes’ Mahabharatha. I also had the opportunity to act with the final year students of Theatre National De Strasbourg.”

Impressed by Pravin’s ebullience, Michel Ladj, the technical course director at Strasbourg offered him a free three-month technical course on lighting and sound. He rejoined Ariane Mnouchkine, who was then planning to do major Greek tragedies in stylised Kathakali dance form.She organised a workshop and auditioned more than 900 people who had applied from all over the world for the workshop.

“I was one of the 120 persons selected for the workshop. At the end of the workshop she organised a performance by Kalamandalam Karunakaran to exemplify what all we had learnt in the workshop. Karunakaran performed a small excerpt from Mahabharatha of Kunti visiting Karna and Karna promising Kunti that she will continue to have five sons even after the war. The two-and-a-half hour kathakali show reminded me of the cultural richness of my home town and I decided to come back knowing pretty well that it would irk Ariane,” he smiles.

On his return he joined his friends Jayakumar and Pasupathy in Koothu-p-pattarai. Since he knew French, he staged Moliere’s Don Juan with grants from the French embassy.He did three plays with Koothu-p-pattarai. “We would work on a play for three months and stage the play for three days for 30 to 40 people. Then go on to next play as our objective was to reach out to more people,” he says.

‘Pinocchio’ the popular wooden puppet that comes to life was the first play with Magic Lantern which he started with his friends. The play focussed on child labour. “We took the play to more than 100 schools. Child Relief and You (CRY) joined us in the project,” he says. This was followed by the Panchanthanthira tales, Dreamtime Australian Aboriginal tales and fables with CRY as the partner. “During the first two years, the plays were staged both in English and Tamil as the actors were well-versed in both the languages,” adds Pravin.

Jeremy was Magic Lantern’s first play staged for the public in association with the Alliance Francasie. A year later Pravin staged ‘Veshakkaran’, based on Moliere’s ‘Tartuffe’ and was about a fake godman. “Since our main objective was to reach out to the audience, we took the play to many villages in and around Cheyyar and Vandavasi. It gave us a tremendous opening and overnight we were popular,” he says.

Filmmakers Swarnavel and Arunmozhi, who saw one of the performances at Akhoor village, sowed the seeds for bringing Ponniyin Selvan to stage. “Like so many other things happening spontaneously in my life, Ponniyin Selvan too was conceptualised for the stage over a dinner. My only condition was for me to direct the play, Kumaravel had to be the script-writer,” says Pravin. And everything fell in place, he adds.

Pravin’s next project is ‘Sooravali’ based on writer Indira Parthasarthy’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’. “It will be a 90-minute laugh riot,” promises Pravin.

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