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Do not buy Mica from Child Workers, Appeal Indian Officials

The International Labor Organization estimates there are 5.7 million child workers in India aged five to 17, out of 168 million globally

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Children working with Mica. Image source: www.terredeshommes.nl
  • Thousands of children risk their lives working for a pittance in India’s crumbling mica mines
  • Many of these mines are illegal and they hire child workers to keep costs down
  • The current law bans children under 14 from working in only 18 hazardous occupations and 65 processes including mining, gem cutting and cement manufacture

MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Indian officials appealed to local traders on Tuesday asking them to stop buying mica mined by child workers. The government comes under pressure from activists to clamp down on child labor as thousands of children risk their lives working for a pittance in India’s crumbling mica mines, extracting the sparkly mineral used in lipsticks and eye-shadow as well as electronics.

Officials from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) visited the eastern state of Jharkhand this month to assess the extent of child labor in its mica mines. The state, along with Bihar state, produces about three-quarters of the mica mined in India.

“Many of these mines are illegal and they hire child workers to keep costs down. But legal or not, no one should be engaging child workers – it is against the law,” said Yashwant Jain, a member of NCPCR, who visited Jharkhand.

“We met with some traders and told them not to buy mica from child workers. We told them we would take strict action against anyone caught doing so,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Thousands of children climb down narrow mine shafts with no safety equipment, and cut mica with hammers and chisels for up to eight hours a day, activists say.

The work puts children at risk of skin disease, respiratory infections, injury and death.

Child labor at a mine Image Source: Numero Unity

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The International Labour Organization estimates there are 5.7 million child workers in India aged five to 17, out of 168 million globally. Up to 20,000 children may be working in the mica mines in Jharkhand and Bihar, according to some estimates.

The current law bans children under 14 from working in only 18 hazardous occupations and 65 processes including mining, gem cutting and cement manufacture.

India wants to amend the three-decade-old law to outlaw child labour in all sectors. But children who help in family businesses will be permitted to work outside school hours, a loophole that activists say may be exploited by unscrupulous employers.

The mica from illegal mines is sold to traders or intermediaries, who sell it to exporters, who in turn sell it to manufacturers of cosmetics, chemicals and electronics. Few have systems to check the use of child labour, activists say.

Indian Nobel Laureate and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi has said big corporations must do more to clean up their supply chains and ensure that no child labour is involved in the products they manufacture.

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Jain said it would not be fair to target the children’s families, who are usually poor and illiterate.

“We realise it is poverty that is driving these villagers to send their children to the mines, not to schools,” he said.

“So we are putting the onus on the traders, who are benefiting from the situation. Only by raising awareness that what they are doing is wrong can we solve the problem.”(Reuters)

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WHO Accuses Tobacco Industry of Luring Children Into Usage of Tobacco By Marketing Practices

WHO is launching a campaign to alert young people to the dangers they face from the industry’s manipulative practices

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Children wear strings of cigarette and chewable tobacco and rehearse for a play on World No Tobacco Day in Gauhati, India. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

The World Health Organization accuses the tobacco industry of devious tactics to get children and young people hooked on their deadly tobacco and nicotine products.  In advance of World No Tobacco Day (May 31), the WHO is launching a campaign to alert young people to the dangers they face from the industry’s manipulative practices.

More than 40 million young people aged 13 to 15 smoke and use other tobacco products. The World Health Organization says the tobacco industry tries to get children and young people hooked on tobacco early in life, knowing this will turn them into life-long smokers. Unfortunately, WHO says many smokers do not live very long.  Every year, it notes millions of people have their lives cut short because of cancers, heart disease and other smoking-related illnesses.

Coordinator of WHO’s No Tobacco Unit, Vinayak Prasad, says the tobacco industry invests more than $9 billion a year to advertise its products.  He says much of this huge budget targets young people with attractive promotional campaigns. “At the moment, they are spending a million dollars an hour, which is by the time we finish our press conference, that is a million dollars spent,” said Prasad.  “And, why are they doing it?  They are doing it to find replacements users.  Eight million premature deaths every year.  So, they need to find new replacements.”

WHO says the industry sets its sights on the next generation of users by targeting children and young people in markets where tobacco products are not regulated and they can be manipulated easily. WHO is launching a new kit for school students aged 13 to 17 to protect them from the tobacco industry’s exploitative practices.  WHO Director of Health Promotion, Ruediger Krech says the kit alerts young people to the industry’s devious tactics and teaches them to say no.

Smoking Tobacco
WHO tool kit exposes tactics such as parties and concerts hosted by the tobacco and related industries. Pixabay

“The tool kit exposes tactics such as parties and concerts hosted by the tobacco and related industries, e-cigarette flavors that attract youth in like bubble-gum and candy, e-cigarette representatives presenting in schools, and product placement in popular youth streaming shows,” said Krech.

WHO is calling on all sectors of society to prevent the tobacco industry from preying on youth.  To reach a young audience, the agency is spreading its no tobacco message on  TikTok, Pinterest, YouTube and other social media. Health officials urge schools, celebrities and influencers to reject all offers of sponsorship from the industry.  They call on TV and streaming services to stop showing tobacco or e-cigarette use on screen.

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They say governments should ban all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship and should enact strict tobacco control laws. (VOA)

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Dangers From Deep-Sea Mining Hazardous: Reports

Scientists and environmentalists are urging an international moratorium on deep-sea mining

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Deep Sea Mining
Impact on the Pacific Ocean and island states of deep-sea mining would be severe. Pixabay

Scientists and environmentalists are urging an international moratorium on deep-sea mining after releasing a report indicating its impact on the Pacific Ocean and island states would be severe, extensive and last for generations.

The report also said mining for polymetallic nodules, potato-sized lumps found in the seabed that contain metals used in battery manufacturing and high-tech industries, would cause “essentially irreversible damage” to the region, including Kiribati the Cook Islands, Nauru, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Tuvalu. Entitled “Predicting the Impacts of Mining Deep Sea Polymetallic Nodules in the Pacific Ocean,” the 52-page report represents a scientific consensus based on 250 peer-reviewed articles, and 80 NGOs are now calling for a moratorium as a result.

“There’s the removal of the nodules themselves and the sediment that will be stirred up and also the waste that’s going to be discharged from the mining process,” said Helen Rosenbaum, coordinator for the Deep Sea Mining Campaign. “At this point we don’t know what’s going to be in that sediment, what kind of heavy metals might be there, how bio-available they are, that is how readily they might be taken up in the food chain.”

Exploration licenses

Increased demand for the metals — cobalt, nickel, copper and manganese — has bolstered deep-sea mining for polymetallic nodules.

Deep sea life
Scientists and environmentalists are urging an international moratorium on deep-sea mining (Photo by Luis ACOSTA / AFP)

The International Seabed Authority, an intergovernmental organization based in Kingston, Jamaica, has issued about 30 exploration licenses – 25 in the Pacific Ocean, and 18 of those in the Clarion Clipperton Zone, which stretches from Kiribati to Mexico, where DeepGreen — a Canadian mining company that plans to mine these metals with an eye toward electric vehicles — hopes to be the first to begin operations by 2024.

DeepGreen Chief Executive Officer Gerard Barron was unimpressed by the report, saying deep-sea mining offers the best alternative to surface mining, which has a long history of pollution and the destruction of forests, habitats and wildlife. “I think it was a bias, narrow view, which doesn’t address any the issues, by a group of people that have their hearts set on trying to stop the progress of this industry,” he said.

He added, though, that severe shortfalls in metals used in high-tech industries are emerging. Some were available under rainforests in countries such as Indonesia but extracting those metals would exact an enormous toll on the local environment, he said. “The argument should be what has the lowest impact from an environmental and a societal perspective,” he said, adding the Clarion Clipperton Zone contained “enough nickel and cobalt there to electrify a billion electric vehicles.”

“We have a choice to continue to go into these biodiverse areas and destroy these biodiverse habitats. “Or we can ramp up ocean science studies and say: ‘Look if ever Mother Nature was to put a large abundant resource somewhere out of harm’s way, 4,000 meters below sea level, a thousand miles from the nearest land mass would seem to be a pretty good place.'”

Unrealistic financial expectations

However, environmentalists remain skeptical, warning cash-strapped island states – already feeling the effects of climate change – against unrealistic financial expectations from mining and the poor track record of surface miners in the region. That includes a nine-year war fought on Bougainville which emerged from a dispute over a copper mine, extensive damage to the Fly River system in Papua New Guinea caused by the Ok Tedi open pit gold mine and long-running disputes over phosphate mining on Nauru.

Deep sea mining
Deep-sea mining poses a serious threat to the habitat. VOA

Last year Canadian company Nautilus Minerals went bankrupt, abandoning its deep sea mining ambitions, which cost PNG about $120 million. “We don’t know if there’s going to be other toxic substances such as processing agents in the mine-ways,” Rosenbaum added. “One thing we know is, it’s going to be constant plume of sediment and whatever the sediment is carrying for the life of the mine.” The report found sperm whales, whale sharks, Leatherback turtles and bird life could be at as much risk from nutrient enrichment and metal toxicity as commercial fish such as tuna.

“Also, local communities in the Pacific are worried about their way of life being disrupted because they’re very connected to the ocean environment,” she said. Emeline Siale Ilolahia, executive director of the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organizations, echoed her sentiments. “For me it was really like, ban the whole system from any mining until we have more scientific information available for our decision makers,” Ilolahia said.

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“We are now in a situation of COVID-19 and we see in our countries are struggling to have funds to support the response in-country and then you always question in your mind, thinking; where has the money coming from mining gone?” she said. (VOA)

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Understand Your Kids’ Perspective to Make Them Exercise

Parents need to put themselves in children's shoes to make their kids take time off the screen and exercise

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little kid
Being strict parents will not help, you need to understand your kid's perspective. Pixabay

Strict parenting may not always yield the best results, especially when it comes to making your kids take time off the screen and do some exercise, suggests new research Lifestyle news.

Rather, parents who know a child’s preferences and participate in the activities become more successful in keeping him/her motivated to do exercise, showed the findings published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Parental control, meaning varying degrees of coercion and disregarding the child’s role in exercise-related decision-making, was perceived as undesirable and reduced enthusiasm for exercise.

“For example, strong, public and overt encouragement in tournaments and games was perceived in some cases as embarrassing and even shameful,” explained postdoctoral researcher Arto Laukkanen from University of Jyvaskyla in Finland.

kids team
“For example, strong, public and overt encouragement in tournaments and games was perceived in some cases as embarrassing and even shameful,” explained postdoctoral researcher Arto Laukkanen. Pixabay

“In addition, underestimating and ignoring the temporary cessation of exercise motivation, for example, was perceived as controlling and reducing enthusiasm for exercise.”

The study involved interviews with 79 first-, second-, and third-grade students.

The researchers found that children aged 7 to 10 years had a clear distinction between parenting that increases and reduces exercise motivation.

A very typical unpleasant exercise experience for children was related to limiting screen time and the associated command that the child should go out to exercise.

baby-girl-kid
Parents want to limit the screen time of their kids and want them to exercise. Pixabay

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“This is very contradictory, as parents try to take care of the children’s screen time and adequate level of exercise, but at the same time they may be contributing to alienation from exercise,” Laukkanen said.

“Perhaps exercise should not be set in opposition to screen time, but one should strive to organize independent space for both of them in everyday life.”

However, the researchers said that further research on this topic was urgently needed from the perspectives of both children and parents. (IANS)