Amendments to child labour bill come in for criticism

Varun Gandhi, Kailash Satyarthi point out shortcomings regarding the clause on allowing children to work in family enterprise, among others

GN Bureau | July 27, 2016


#Varun Gandhi   #Lok Sabha   #amendments   #Child labour bill   #Kailash Satyarthi  

Arun Kumar

The Lok Sabha passed the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012 but also received heavy criticism from a member of BJP, the majority party in the house. The bill prohibits employment of children below 14 years in any occupations and of adolescents (between 14-18 years) in certain hazardous occupations.

It, however, does not call children as labourers if they are employed by their own family members in family enterprises. This was strongly criticized by BJP MP Varun Gandhi who said that children are often forced to work in their family enterprises and that it is a form of slavery. Referring to the clause of punishment, Gandhi said that it [the amendment] was not leniency, but lunacy. 

He added that the country should expect a future where a child is holding a book in his hand and not an agricultural implement or a broom.
Child rights activist and Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi, in an interview to Governance Now, said that he doesn’t see the end of child labour in the near future with this new law.

Talking about complexity of the family enterprise clause, Satyarthi said, “The amendment allows children to work in family enterprises after school hours. But the monitoring of attendance in schools is so poor that it is often seen that children are shown to be enrolled in school registers and their attendances as marked, but in reality they are being trafficked. Who is going to check every day that children are being employed by their immediate or extended family members? Till now, we have not been able to ensure minimum wages for adult workers, so how can we be so meticulous in cases of children.”

He added, “In 1986, the government had the excuse of not being able to put a blanket ban on all forms of child labour due to socio-economic conditions at that time. But today, our GDP and per capita income have tripled since then, so why continue with the same argument.”

As per the bill, the child would not be called a labourer if he “helps his family after his school hours or helps his family in fields, home-based work, forest gathering or attends technical institutions during vacations for the purpose of learning, but does not include any help or attending technical institutions where there is subordinate relationship of labour or work which are outsourced and carried out in home.”
 

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