A drop in child labour in India

Drastic changes in laws

News - India & You

March 21, 2016

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According to India’s child labour ministry, the number of children working as child labours in India fell to 4.5 million, as compared to 12.6 million 10 years ago and this has compelled the Labour ministry to amend and reinforce the child labour laws in the country.

The number of child labours between the ages 3-14 in India reduced to 4.5 million from 12.6 million in 10 years, according to the country’s Labour minister, Bandaru Dattatreya . This decrease has urged the law makers to further amend the existing child labour legislation in India to control even better this issue.

The government is planning to amend the old child labour prohibition law and called both the houses of parliament to support the change. “I gave a notice in the winter session, but it could not be passed. This session too, it could not be passed though I gave notice,” said said Labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya.

The amendments in the existing child labour laws are expected to be presented during a session of parliament, which ends on 8 May, with a recess between 21 March and 19 April, 2016.

More than half of the child labours in India work in the agricultural sector, including cotton, sugarcane and rice fields, where they come in contact with pesticides, sharp tools and heavy equipments. Around a quarter of labour children work in the manufacturing sector in dim lights, non ventilated rooms and poor conditions. Children also work in the services sector in shops, restaurants and hotels, where they for instance wash dishes or chop vegetables.

The government expressed a need to change the current law defining the child labour rules in the country, which prohibits children under the age of 14 from working in only 18 hazardous occupations and 65 processes, such as mining, gem cutting and cement manufacturing.

The new amendments requested in the child labour law will outlaw the current condition and will ban child labour below 14 in all sectors and include a new category for those aged between 15 and 18 years old. The changes will also double the punishment for those who illegally employ child labours to a maximum of two years of jail with a fine of up to INR 50,000.

According to the new law, children who help their family in family businesses can work outside school hours and holidays, and those in entertainment or sports can work, provided it does not affect their education.

Also, if the new law is passed, children between the ages 15-18 will be restricted from working in dangerous sectors, such as mines, near inflammable substances and hazardous processes.

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