WHY NEED CHILD DEVELOPMENT IN INDIA
New Delhi, Bhubaneswar, August 28, 2012: In a significant move to curb the rampant spread of child labour across the country, the Government of India is set to ban the all forms of child labour under the age of 14 years, making the employment of children below 14 years a criminal offense. The Union cabinet of India approved the Child & Adolescent Labour (Prohibition) Act today putting a blanket ban on employing anybody below 18 years in hazardous occupation. Such hazardous occupations have also been re-classified in line with the increase in the minimum age of child labour from 14 to 18 years.
However, it will allow employing children only between 14-18 years in non-hazardous industries like forest gathering, child care etc. Children between 14-18 years have been defined as “adolescents” in the amended Act. Employing a child below 14 years in any kind of occupation is set to become a cognizable offence, punishable with a maximum three years imprisonment or fine up to a maximum of Rs. 50,000 (~US$ 900).
Ministry officials said that banning any employment of children below 14 years will go a long way in enforcing the Right to Education Act, 2009 which mandates free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of 6-14 years.
Pursuing justice and policy changes through the courts both Supreme Court of India and the High Courts for protection of children’s rights is another strategy that has reaped benefits in favour of strong legislations and child friendly policies.
Child Labour Free India Campaign, by the djss and Global March has strongly encouraged and demanded amendments in the Child Labour Act, all of which have been accepted by the government:
In the course of the campaign, during the National Consultation on Child Labour Free India on 10-11 May 2012 opened by the Honourable Minister Shri Mallikarjuna Kharge, the Minister made a clarion call to take immediate steps to curb child labour and bring forth the amendments as demanded by the BBA and Global March. Demand letters were also presented to Honourable Prime Minister Shri Manmohan Singh, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Mrs Sushma Swaraj as well as all Members of the Parliament, and 65 MPs strongly supported the demand for a complete ban on child labour.
It is heartening to see that the government has accepted the key demands of the campaign for a child labour free India through the proposed amendments, and a step forward in protection of children’s rights in India.
“It is a remarkable victory for the vibrant civil society today and a major step towards ending all forms of child labour. We have been advocating and demanding for more than a decade to bring all forms of child labour under this legislation and for a stronger child labour law in consonance with the ILO’s child labour conventions. Now that the Union cabinet has accepted these demands, we urge the government to table this amended bill in the Parliament in this session. And, the entire political class must demonstrate political will and keep to the commitments it made us this May and ensure unanimous passage of this bill in both the Houses. The entire government machinery must make it its mission to ensure effective enforcement of the legislations by putting in adequate efforts, resources, accountability and an achievable timeframe for abolition of child labour,” extolled Mr Kailash Satyarthi, founder of BBA and Chairperson of Global March on the Union cabinet’s approval.
He further recommended that, “with the new amendments, this is the right time for the Government to ratify the ILO Conventions 138 on minimum age of employment and ILO Convention 182 on worst forms of child labour.”
Over 1,05,000 citizens of India have already signed the e-petition to make India child labour free. Celebrities like Salman Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Mahima Chaudhary, Boman Irani, Deepti Naval and sportspersons like Adam Gilchrist have wholeheartedly lent their support to this campaign. The campaign and the consultations are part of a series of dedicated campaigns and activities to mobilize support for amendment in the child labour law in India and advocate for the ratification of the ILO’s child labour conventions, by the BBA and Global March.