Wednesday February 21, 2018
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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
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  • 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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  • Aparna Gupta

    This is a great step to curb the evil of child labour and will surely help in child upliftment.

  • Shubhi Mangla

    Strict action must be against those who hire child laborers in hazardous jobs. It is justified that those children should be allowed to work who belong to poor families but after school. But making them work in much mines is putting their life at stake.

  • AJ Krish

    New laws must be passed so that no child works in such hazardous conditions. The loopholes present in the current law must be overcome so that child labor can be put to a complete stop.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Hiring children for such dangerous jobs is a crime. People should take action against these workers who hire children for such work. These children are not only exposed to harmful conditions but are also paid very less

  • Aparna Gupta

    This is a great step to curb the evil of child labour and will surely help in child upliftment.

  • Shubhi Mangla

    Strict action must be against those who hire child laborers in hazardous jobs. It is justified that those children should be allowed to work who belong to poor families but after school. But making them work in much mines is putting their life at stake.

  • AJ Krish

    New laws must be passed so that no child works in such hazardous conditions. The loopholes present in the current law must be overcome so that child labor can be put to a complete stop.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Hiring children for such dangerous jobs is a crime. People should take action against these workers who hire children for such work. These children are not only exposed to harmful conditions but are also paid very less

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Punjab National Bank detects $1.8 bn fraud at a Mumbai branch, Links to Nirav Modi

Punjab National Bank, the second largest public sector bank in India

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Punjab National Bank is India's second largest bank. Wikimedia Commons
Punjab National Bank is India's second largest bank. Wikimedia Commons
  • Punjab National bank has detected a $1.8 billion fraud
  • The fraud happened in their Mumbai branch
  • The matter has been referred to law enforcement

Punjab National Bank, the second largest public sector bank in India, has detected a $1.8 billion fraud in one of its branches here, the bank said in a regulatory filing to the stock exchanges on Wednesday.

Punjab National Bank experiences a fraud of $1.8 bn.
Punjab National Bank experiences a fraud of $1.8 bn.

“The bank has detected some fraudulent and unauthorised transactions (messages) in one of its branch in Mumbai for the benefit of a few select account holders with their apparent connivance,” the filing by the bank said.

It had quoted the quantum of such transactions was to the tune of around $1,771.69 million (around Rs 11,515 crore).

The amount of fraudulent transactions is equivalent to eight times the bank’s net income of about Rs 1,320 crore ($206 million).

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This case has happened at a time when the Indian banking system is already grappling to tackle its swelling non-performing assets.

“Based on these transactions other banks appear to have advanced money to these customers abroad. In the bank these transactions are contingent in nature and liability arising out of these on the bank shall be decided based on the law and genuineness of underlying transactions,” the filing said.

Punjab National Bank's Mumbai branch is now under high scrutiny. Wikimedia Commons
Punjab National Bank’s Mumbai branch is now under high scrutiny. Wikimedia Commons

The bank informed: “The matter is already referred to law enforcement agencies to examine and book the culprits as per law of the land.”

On February 5, the Central Bureau of Investigation had booked billionaire diamond service provider Nirav Modi, his brother, wife and an enterprise companion for allegedly cheating Punjab National Bank of over Rs 280.70 crore last year.

Also Read: Con man in Delhi Duped Amazon for over Rs. 50 Lakh; Arrested by Delhi Police for Fraud

Following the complaint, the CBI registered a FIR under the Indian Penal Code sections related to criminal conspiracy, cheating and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act against the four.

The stock of Punjab National Bank was trading at Rs 149.20 per share, down 7.70 percent at the BSE at 1.59 p.m. IANS