India’s decision to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour and Convention 138 on Minimum Age of Employment, after a long wait of 2 decades
Some of the worst forms of child labour:
- Child slavery including the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage, and forced recruitment for armed conflict
- Child prostitution and their use in pornography
- Use of children for illicit activities such as drug trafficking
- Exposure to any hazardous work which is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children
Impacts of child labour:
- About 4.3 million children wake up to a day of labour and not school
- Another 9.8 million are officially out-of-school
- Child labour, thus, perpetuates illiteracy and poverty
- It is the root cause of organised crimes such as human trafficking, terror and drug mafia
Why so late?
- Our failure to ratify the two conventions, which are two of the eight core labour conventions, despite being a founder-member of the ILO, reflected poorly on us as a nation
- The bottlenecks in ratifying the conventions were:
- Addressing forced or compulsory recruitment of children, and
- Appropriately raising the age of employment in hazardous occupations from 14 to 18 years
- Consequent to the passing of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2016 by the Indian Parliament prohibiting the employment of children up to 14 years of age, and children up to 18 years of age in hazardous occupations, it was imperative that we ratified Conventions 182 and 138
What after ratification?
- As a matter of urgency, the government will take immediate and effective measures to prohibit and eliminate the worst forms of child labour
- Under the provisions of the ILO Conventions 182 and 138, India will not adhere to a fixed deadline by which the worst forms of child labour must be eliminated
- It will ultimately depend on the level of moral courage, public concern, social empathy, political will and the implementation of resources invested in the development and protection of children
What to expect now?
- We cannot alter the circumstances overnight. To achieve great reforms, one must continue to move in a singular direction with sincerity.
- Our government has shown steadfastness and strong resolve to uphold the rights of our children, and so must we. Investment in children is an investment in the future
- Safe childhoods for a safe India
Signing these conventions can be asked in prelims or an essay on child labour or a mains question on the same can be expected.