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Q. Amendments to child labour act: Do recent amendments to Child labour act demonstrate a lack of national commitment to abolishing all forms of child labour? Discuss.
Aug 02, 2016 Related to : GS Paper-2

Ans :

Introduction-

Recently both houses of Parliament have passed the Child Labour (Prohibition and Amendment) Bill, 2016. The Bill seeks to amend the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, which prohibits the engagement of children in certain types of occupations and regulates the condition of work of children in other occupations. The amendments brought in by government have led heated debate among its supporters and opponents.

Changes made in child labour act-

  • It prohibits employment of children below 14 years in all occupations except where the child helps his family after school hours.
  • It adds a new category of persons called ‘adolescent’ i.e. a person between 14 and 18 years of age. It prohibits employment of adolescents in hazardous occupations.
  • The central government may add or omit any hazardous occupation from the list included in the Bill. It enhances the punishment for employing any child in an occupation.  It also includes penalty for employing an adolescent in a hazardous occupation.
  • It empowers the government to make periodic inspection of places at which employment of children and adolescents are prohibited.

Does it demonstrate a lack of national commitment to abolishing all forms of child labour?

  • Some argues that instead of curbing child labour completely, the amendments allow children up to the age of 14 to be employed in family business and created new category adolescents, who can be employed in non-hazardous occupations.
  • The amendments tweak the law in such a way that children are in some form or other available for employment. Such amendments violate the natural rights of children.
  • Amendment also reduced the list of hazardous activities has been from 83 to 3. Under the garb of family enterprises, children can be made to work in brick kilns, slaughterhouses, carpet, zari and bidi units, etc. Hence they argued that amendments demonstrate a lack of national commitment to abolishing all forms of child labour.
  • But considering the socio-economic realities of India, exemption to family enterprises will helps to children to contribute economically while studying.
  • Working outside of school hours and earning valuable income for the family will surely have a positive impact on family as well as children.
  • Hence allowing children to work in family business is nowhere harmful, but to the some extent worries of slashing of hazardous occupations may have negative impact.

Suggestions-

  • Government should reconsider the Hazardous list again, as slashing those to only 3 have negative impact on children.

Conclusion-

Changes brought through amendments have raised debates on child labour in India. But considering the socio-economic realities in India, most of the changes are indeed required except slashing the number of hazardous occupations. Government should relook on this aspect. Hence changes in child labour act do not demonstrate any lack of commitments on abolition of child labour.


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