Govt needs to take child rights issues seriously: Satyarthi

The Hindu

Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi has suggested that the central government take child labour issues seriously if it wants ‘Make in India’ to become a success and want global investors to invest in the country.

Mr. Satyarthi said he has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to take child labour issues seriously and introduce stricter punishments.

“No global venture will invest in India if they know that the products they are investing in have been made by children. I have written a letter to Mr. Modi also in this regard, raising my concerns. But I have not heard anything from them,” Mr. Satyarthi told The Hindu during an interaction.

“If India wants to make a good image globally, the government needs to take issues related to children with seriousness. If the Prime Minister is investing so much in the ‘Make in India’ idea, the government should also make sure that no children are employed in the industries, which are being run in the name of family trade,” he added.

Mr. Satyarthi has been championing for the cause of child rights for more than 36 years now with his organisation Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), which was founded in the year 1980. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for his “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”.

In the last two years, BBA has rescued 5,300 children working in various industries, including family-run business.

Further stressing upon the fact that the best way to fight child labour is to revise the amendments in the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Bill (CLPA), he said: “The amendments in CLPA are regressive and need to be revised. It is ironical that India has a law against child labour which is obsolete but also contradictory.”

In early 2015, the Union Cabinet had given its approval to move official amendments to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012. The proposed amendments allowed children below 14 years of age to work in family enterprises or entertainment industry and the list of prohibited occupations was reduced to three from the earlier 83.

“The present law prohibits the entry of children in hazardous occupations but allows them to work in family-run enterprises. Most of the industries like embroidery and garment are family-run businesses only and children are employed in them in the name of some distant relative,” he added.

Mr. Satyarthi and his team have been making efforts to get the list of prohibited occupations to the earlier 83.