Modi government mulls new norms that will allow children below 14 years to work


Young street vendor with smoke, Varanasi Benares India

By NewsGram Staff Writer

The government is all set to make a controversial change in the Child Labour Prohibition Act during the current session of Parliament. The new amendment will allow children below the age of 14 years to work in select family enterprises if it doesn’t curb their right to education.

The prohibition will not apply if children assist the family in fields, forests and home-based work after school hours or during vacations or while attending technical institutions, states a draft provision in the Child Labour Prohibition Act.

A proposal by the Labour Ministry declared that the new standard will also be valid in the entertainment industry and sports excluding the circus. However, children between the age of 14 and 18 will not be allowed to work in industries dealing in perilous work.

An official from the Labour Ministry told an English daily that the new norms will be in agreement with the International Labour Organization (ILO) convention. Therefore, it is likely to be passed smoothly even in the Rajya Sabha where the government is in minority.

“While the provision will especially help poor families where children help in family subsistence, we have enough safeguards to ensure that these children are not forced by families to work in any industry,” he stated.

Census data have revealed that the numbers of child labourers in India have fallen to 4.3 million from 12.6 million in the last decade. Industries dealing in matchboxes, footwear, fireworks and carpet making are the biggest employers of children below the allowed age.

The current child labour law prohibits the employment of children below 18 years in hazardous industries. However, it was in 2012, during the UPA government, when the ban was extended to all industries.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Bill, 2012, introduced in the Rajya Sabha, suggested a complete ban on child labour until they finish elementary education, guaranteed under the Right to Education Act.

“The effort is to push two more legislation in the current session, including the Small Factories Act and amendment to the Employees Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provision Act,” said the ministry official.