This might come as a shock to some of you, but child labour is NOT illegal in India. Talk about the progressive new India, sometimes I think we are still in the middle ages. Look at the Child labour REGULATION act… regulation … a…
This might come as a shock to some of you, but child labour is NOT illegal in India.
Talk about the progressive new India, sometimes I think we are still in the middle ages.
Look at the Child labour REGULATION act.. regulation .. a word usually used to show controlling something which is actually legal .. just controlling it.
Look at this for example .. an excerpt
8. WEEKLY HOLIDAYS. - Every child employed in an establishment shall be allowed in each week, a holiday of one whole day, which day shall be specified by the occupier in a notice permanently exhibited in a conspicuous place in the establishment and the day so specified shall not be altered by the occupier more than once in three months.
one whole day. didnt the lawmakers cringe while writing this paragraph ? each child shall be allowed a holiday of one whole day in a week .. while other kids not as unlucky as they are .. are at school ?hell, I have two days off in a week.
this is unbelievable and pathetic !!!
By the way, the definition of a child here is
"Child" means a person who has not completed his fourteenth year of ageSo, whenever we talk about children here note that it is very young - below 14 kids we are talking about.
The lawmakers were actually very considerate and mentioned that there were some occupations where you couldnt employ, say a 6 year old kid -
3. PROHIBITION OF EMPLOYMENT OF CHILDREN IN CERTAIN OCCUPATIONS AND PROCESSES. - No child shall be employed or permitted to work in any of the occupations set forth in Part A of the Schedule or in any workshop wherein any of the processes set forth in Part B of the Schedule is carried on
However, there is a cruel twist in the tale, which you understand when you read this addendum :
Provided that nothing in this section shall apply to any workshop wherein any process is carried on by the occupier with the aid of his family or to any school established by, or receiving assistance or recognition from, Government.
I am not very good at understanding legalese, but what I think this means, is that, a child , someone as young as , say six, can be employed in hazardous activity, say making fireworks, as long she is aided by her family
( Definition of family as per the act : (v) "Family", in relation to an occupier, means the individual, the wife or husband, as the case may be, of such individual, and their children, brother or sister of such individual; )
So, if you have this really dangerous asbestos factory, and you want to use your 6 year old kid brother as labour, its perfectly alrite - it wud be legal .
Someone .. please read the act and tell me that i am totally mistaken ... that I misunderstood this act.
Or, if i have understood this correctly -
What can we do about this ?
Any lawyers out there who can explain this mumb jumbo to me ?
If you disagree with an "act" how do u go try to change it ?
Great post shameek! I spoke to Apurv, he is already on it. You guys have been in touch with MVF for so long .. they never mentioned this or anything related ?
Hey Shameek, good post!
MVF keeps complaining and ridiculing the Child Labor Act... As shamz pointed out, the kids who work @ their own homes, or as domestic laborers or even @ "non-hazardous" factories are not considered as child laborers. The Govt of India has identified 17 industries (Carpet weaving, glass making, fireworks, asbestos etc etc) which as classified as "Hazardous".
However, there is a cruel twist in the tale, which you understand when you read this addendum :Provided that nothing in this section shall apply to any workshop wherein any process is carried on by the occupier with the aid of his family or to any school established by, or receiving assistance or recognition from, Government.
I wasnt aware of this evil loophole!
As for what we can do:
1. We can start off a e-campaign on PG, and educate people about this ridiculous act
2. We can start an e-petition and get ppl to sign it, and then submit it to the authorities (we need to find out who that is)
Will add as and when I can think of more...
Interesting question here, made me read up the law a bit and ask a few friends who have spent years working against child labour.
When I first read the Defamation Law, it practically made me feel guilty of spoiling personas and lives in every report I had written in the past 8 months. I almost decided to visit Bethlehem, Mecca, Tirupati and Sarnath in close succession to wash off my defamatory sins.
Then I saw things in the larger perspective. Such are things with laws and the intricate devilry of words. You cannot guage any situation in a huge country like India by reading laws. You look at legal precedents, past questions raised in the parliament and legislative assemblies. You also look at laws in context of other related laws.
The Child Labour Regulation Act does not ban child labour but merely 'regulates' it.
Why has the government not formally 'banned' child labour in all forms?
This brings one to the question of... what would happen if child labout is formally banned by an act of law?
India has roughly 5.5 crore children indulging in labour ranging from mild work such as in hotels to the severe variety eg in leather tanneries, cracker factories etc.
India has 6.5 crores of unemployed adults.
If all the 5.5 crore child labourers are all rescued by banning child labour, their work would have to be taken over by adults.
If adults take over their work, the government would have to ensure that they get salaries according to the Minimum Wages Act. Obviously, no sector in India can afford to pay 5.5 crores of adults according to the Minimum Wages Act. Such kind of money is simply not there.
Whichever government bans child labour completely is destined to fall with a thud. The country in its present circumstances simply cannot take that kind of financial load.
What does one do in that case?
One makes new laws that plugs loopholes in the Child Labour Regulation Act and give space for the society to try and abolish child labour through a 'proxy' route.
Such a law was passed during the Vajpayee government by making the 'Right To Education to children' a fundamental right.
According to this law, any child who is not in school is a child labourer. And if a child is not going to school, its a violation of the child's fundamental rights. And a violation of fundamental rights is simply unacceptable.
But is this Right To Education thingy ensuring that children go to school?
But it is giving governmental and non-governmental agencies enough TEETH to rescue children from forced labour. It has enabled the government to get a massive fund from the UN to kickstart the 'Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan', which you will see in full force at 90 percent villages in India.
Several attempts have been made to make the government ban child labour. Litigations, demonstrations, pressure through the UN, the 80s have seen it all.
The attempts have both succeeded and failed.
However, they have helped FINE-TUNE the Child Labour Regulation Act. The copy of the Act quoted in Shameek's quote has gone further amendments, the last of them being in 1993.
Shaping a law related to an age-old phenomenon is not something you can do at once. Child labour is still perceived as perfectly legitimate in the rural hinterland of India. Just like the country has worked over a century to abolish Sati from the CULTURE and PSYCHE of Indians, abolition of child labour will take some time.
And active participation by the society, NGOs and activists towards the end is happening BECAUSE of the government, and NOT INSPITE OF the government, if you know what I mean.
The work pagalguys have done in Hyderabad is an example of this.
Such work should go on, and only increase.
The government is often projected as an insensitive devil waiting to eat shreds of flesh from its populace.
But that's something Politicians do.
The laws that government as a whole makes, or does not make, are all bound by circumstances. The larger perspective is what makes things clear.
We should start referring to Apurv as the resident encyclopaedia on such issues .. Great detailed work there. After reading your entire post, the first thought that came to mind was ' What would MVF' think of this issue and this line of thinking. I think you hydies should take a print out of this thread and hand it over to MVF so that we can recieve their opinions on the same. What say folks ?
terrific stuff apurv.
yes pg, i think we should get into a dialogue with MVF about this. In the first meet itself they had expressed their displeasure with the child labour act, but we never followed it up with them.
The economic reason justifying child labour has oft been quoted, by grey haired economists, as a totally theoretical justification for child labour.
However, MVF has always countered this particular part - the economic justification of it, by saying that the ground realities were actually totally different.
Since a lot of this is in rural areas, u need to look at this from a local perspective - say, there is a village, with 50 child labourers. in all likelihood, there are 50 adults who are unemployed too.
the landlord or the local factory owner hires children because that maximizes his profits. makes economic sense for him. what if he is not legally allowed to employ children ? he needs to go hire those 50 adults and pay them more.
do you think his business will fall apart because he has to pay his labourers more ?? no sireeee, just that the neat little stash he has, grows a little more slowly.
what MVF has seen on the ground, is that the local economy of a region actually improves when child labour is eradicated from there.
Poverty has always been mentioned as the cause of child labour - but doesnt getting a child to work , means u are extending poverty ? a child who works and does not go to school - when he grows up, what is he more likely to be ? - a poor unskilled adult labourer or a skilled member of the workforce ?
About the economy not being able to sustain the banning of child labour, thats upto the economists with their arm chair modelling which is so often proved wrong to tell us about. What I do know is that, there a number of multinational companies which have aided and abetted child labour through their indian subsidiaries.
apurv, i assume u are saying that the unorganized sector is the one who wouldnt be able to deal with the economic impact of abolishing child labour ?
the loopholes in the acts are used by MNCs to get stuff done through their indian subsidiaries. who wins and at what cost ? from where i see it, the stakeholders in the MNCs get richer, at the cost of keeping some children tied to poverty, for the rest of their future.
Have a look at this excerpt :
Dr Davuluri Venkateswarlu's study, 'Seeds of Bondage' (2000), states that hybrid cottonseed production in India began in the 1970s. The state government gave the parent seeds to private companies, who multiplied them and sold them under various brand names. Most of the labor in the fields was done by adults. But by the mid-1990s, several MNCs entered the cottonseed production market. And because they offered very low returns to the farmers, the latter were forced to seek underpaid child labor.
Hybrid cottonseed production is more labor intensive and capital intensive. Seeds have to be replaced every year. Also, unlike hybrid seeds like paddy and millet, in cottonseed, cross-pollination (which lasts for four months) has to be done manually. Each individual flower has to be emasculated and pollinated by hand, by a large labor force. In AP, it is mostly girls who do this kind of labor.
The exploitation of girls has also been legitimized by perpetuating myths such as this one: cotton plants wither if touched by adults, and thus girls who haven't attained puberty are ideal for the job. Actually, farmers admit, girls are preferred because they are easy to manipulate. They can be cajoled into working for long hours with cheap incentives like biscuits, ribbons and bindis (decorative dot on the forehead).
One girl does the work of three adults. "For Rs 10, they do work worth Rs 100 for us!" comments a farmer from AP. A child earns 30 per cent less than a woman and 55 per cent less than a man does.
Although the MNCs don't directly employ children - they work through farmers called seed organizers - they have a stranglehold over all aspects of farming. MNCs supply the foundation seed for generating the new crop, they advance capital, ensure quality supervision, and fix the buyback seed prices.
Shantha Sinha, Magsaysay award winner and Secretary Trustee of the Mamidipudi Venkatarangaiya Foundation (MVF), an NGO, says more than half the children working in cottonseed production are employed by about 10 MNCs or their Indian subsidiaries, while the rest work for the AP-based Nuzveed Seed Industry. MVF has been working in AP for over a decade to eliminate all forms of child labor and ensure that every child goes to school.
Some of the prominent MNCs involved are - Hindustan Lever Limited (a subsidiary of Unilever), Mahyco (Monsanto's subsidiary), Proagro Seed Company (subsidiary of Bayer), Emergent Genetics and Syngenta and Advanta.
The MNCs finalize contracts with seed organizers in March/April. The seed organizers pay an advance of Rs 1,500 to a child's family. In effect, the children are like bonded labor - they stay away from their families in cowsheds and camps (10-30 children in one camp) and can be summoned for work at any time by the farmers.
The complete url is
Guys who are going to HLL after ur MBAs, take note.
if there is a loophole, companies will use it to gain a competitive advantage - thats how it has always been. so, close the goddamn loophole !
also a significant percentage of the child labourers are actually bonded labourers, who dont get paid, but have to work for a landlord, because their parents had taken a 1500 rupees loan sometime back which they couldnt pay. the economic impact of taking such a child away from the labour, i doubt.
Just found a very interesting report
Have a dekko
Just found a very interesting report
Have a dekko
Quite interestingly, much of what she has recommended in this 1996 report has already been implemented. Midas Touch!
Talking about arm chair modelling, this here discussion on this thread is itself is an arm chair discussion.
do u have a copy of the 1993 revision of the act somewhere online?
arboreal_tarantula @ Mon Nov 22, 2004 12:26 am SaysIn the first meet itself they had expressed their displeasure with the child labour act, but we never followed it up with them.
Uhhhh... Not quiet! Infact the Child Labor Regulation Act and the economic/social justifications for existence of child labor come into discussion in almost every meeting.
As I posted earlier, MVF had suggested that if we can start off an e-campaign against Child Labor, that wud be the best thing we can do for the cause!
I have an FAQ on Child Labor (given by MVF), will start posting from it dheere dheere...
And hey PG, can we plz move this thread into Chit Chat or Your Interests? mebbe we can reach out to more ppl?
BTW, did you know that out of the approximate 250 million Child Laborers in world, almost 100 million are from India alone?
If the Govt continues to adopt this strategy, how will the issue ever get resolved?
Working in family-based occupations, these children also develop skills in certain traditional crafts, thus augmenting the human capital formation of India's developing economy.
You hit the nail on the head Uday. Its the attitude .. the completely wrong attitude from government and a number of intellectuals - of accepting child labour as a necessary evil which rankles me. Rather than trying to understand the exact causes, we love taking the easy way out and explaining it away using the magic wand of poverty. We dont listen when
results from the field show that poverty IS one of the factors, but mostly not the most important factor. Results like, drop-out rates being lower even in a lower income group, in villages where proactive steps have been taken as compared to drop out rates in comparatively better off strata, but without any redressal for the other causes of child labour.
Uday, I think we need to take this up more seriously with MVF, than we have done in the past - we need to be totally convinced with MVF's rebuttal to the poverty argument before we open up an e-petition or get into any activism regarding it.
Can you arrange a discussion session with MVF and PG and helix folks, with the focus JUST on this ? Hammer out every possible argument, every possible angle, and see if u come out of the meeting convinced. We will take it forward after that.
These 2 sites might have the updated act :
The changes made are :
" Through a notification dated May 26, 1993, the working conditions of children have been regulated in all employment which are not prohibited under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act. Following up on a preliminary notification issued on
October 5, 1993, the government has also prohibited employment of children in occupation processes like abattoirs /slaughter houses, printing, cashewnut descaling and processing, and soldering. "
according to http://www.indianchild.com/child_labor_india.htm
Something else it talks about..
" Children perform a variety of jobs: some work in factories, making products such as carpets and matches; others work on plantations, or in the home. For boys the type of work is very different because they often work long hours doing hard physical labor outside of the home for very small wages.
The government has made efforts to prohibit child labor by enacting Child labor laws in India including the 1986 Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act that stated that children under fourteen years of age could not be employed in hazardous occupations. This act also attempted to regulate working conditions in the jobs that it permitted, and put greater emphasis on health and safety standards.
However, due to cultural and economic factors, these goals remain difficult to meet. For instance, the act does nothing to protect children who perform domestic or unreported labor, which is very common in India. In almost all Indian industries girls are unrecognized laborers because they are seen as helpers and not workers. Therefore, girls are therefore not protected by the law. Children are often exploited and deprived of their rights in India, and until further measures are taken, many Indian children will continue to live in poverty. "
Laws in India are often driven by social and economic considerations. Most of us think that marriage of a guy below the age of 21 and a female below the age of 18 is prohibited, but the reality is that if such a marriage takes place it is a perfectly valid marriage. The only thing that is possible is to punish the boy or girl who marries the child , or the parents , that too with a 15 days imprisonment and a fine of some 1000 Rs. Or someone can get an injunction from a court to stop the marriage but again if the marriage takes place violating the injunction it is still a valid marriage. The consequences are same, 15 days imprisonment and a meagre fine. The reasoning given by the lawmakers is that since child marriages are so common in India if we were to declare such marriages invalid it would affect 80-90 % of the population. Therefore the law aims at preventing, not prohibiting and also gradually spreading awareness in people. I was pretty surprised when i studied this in college, but the fact is that there are many such laws in our country. What we can do is make people aware, voice our opinions and work towards changing such laws . Ultimately the law only reflects the society. Change must start from the grassroots. A law, in order to be effective, has to be enforceable. Only then can it serve its purpose..
Great post Neha. Our government loves to wash its hands off the matter, and accept everything as inevitable.
arboreal_tarantula @ Tue Nov 30, 2004 5:38 pm SaysGreat post Neha. Our government loves to wash its hands off the matter, and accept everything as inevitable.
Is that what she said? I have my doubts!
With due respect, isn't it surprising as to how this discussion is continuing with such a baggage of preconceived notions. How can one pass judgements on a complex country like ours by just reading a law!
And even if we insist continuing with this, we must ensure that the chairs we are sitting on has arms on its sides.
no point playing a blame game here.. im nt saying the government is totally at fault, but im nt absolving it too.. fact is like apurv said.. the situation is more complex than we think.. its nt easy to make a law, n come up with radical changes, and its even tougher to make sure its implemented.. but who said a government's job is easy!
A lot goes into making of a law, its nt a one step process.. but there has to be a start somewhere..
I dont think anyone's passing judgements here apurv.. its jus tht on the face of it.. it looks like if only the government could come up with a stricter law it would really be a big step towards preventing child labor..
i cn understand though.. the complexity of the situation.. sometimes even the law is nt enuf.. a law can only force things upon people, unless we realize tht something is wrong.. even a law is nt going to really help..
Apurv, my comment was not meant for the whole of Neha's post. Of course, her points are closer to what u say - that things are not black and white and there are complexities involved.
The reasoning given by the lawmakers is that since child marriages are so common in India if we were to declare such marriages invalid it would affect 80-90 % of the population. Therefore the law aims at preventing, not prohibiting and also gradually spreading awareness in people
this is exactly the part I was referring to when I mentioned the government avoiding the issue - trying circular reasoning - u have a law which allows X to happen, and then u say we cant change the law because X has happened. it just doesnt make any sense to me.
neha, its not a blame game we have here - just a good ol fashioned debate from our creaky armchairs 😃
Err... no creaks for a while here, so here I come creaking again :p
Anyway, some inside info
About a hundred Supreme Court and High Court judges, legal experts, social workers, advocates, members of the National Women's Commission and National Human Rights Commission, professors from National Law School, IIM A, IRMA and IIFM had gathered at the National Judicial Academy, Bhopal (that's where all of India's judges are trained before they can conduct a court) to formulate the next set of amendments to 10 labour laws in India. They included...
Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986
Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976
Workmens Compensation Act, 1923
Minimum Wages Act, 1948
Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970
Cine Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1981
Cinematograph Act, 1952
These people held brainstorming sessions for 2 days this weekend in five groups, the transcripts of which have been made public (they run into 8,600 pages ).
As I understand, the process from this point onwards will be like so...
These transcripts will be studied and a document containing recommended amendments to the laws will be sent to the central and all state governments. Each government will study them and send their feedback based on the situation in their state.
The document will undergo scrutiny from various sections of the society over the next couple of years.
Finally, it will reach the Labour ministries of the central and state governments. The minister at the helm would be free to introduce the amendment in the parliament/legislative assembly.
The relevant point here is that,
In the 1,000 odd pages of discussion on the Child Labour laws, the idea of abolishing Child Labour by law was VETOED OUT ON 100 PERCENT VOTE due to economic considerations in the country.
Only five evil government representatives participated in the discussion.
interesting info apurv!!
i didnt noe this was how a law was amended.. some procedure it is!
all the legal experts and the social activists..everyone vetoed abolition of child labor?? there must be some strong reasons .. i mean even ppl who work against child labor dont want it to be abolished by law??
u really hv a strong case in favor of the 'evil government representatives'
About a hundred Supreme Court and High Court judges, legal experts, social workers, advocates, members of the National Women's Commission and National Human Rights Commission, professors from National Law School, IIM A, IRMA and IIFM had gathered at the National Judicial Academy, Bhopal
In the 1,000 odd pages of discussion on the Child Labour laws, the idea of abolishing Child Labour by law was VETOED OUT ON 100 PERCENT VOTE due to economic considerations in the country.
Speaks volumes in itself.....Looooong way to go for Mrs. Shantha Sinha and M.V.Foundation !!!
Shall remember to bring this up next time i go there...