Organised lobbying may be a grey area in India but the government has recruited a lobby firm in the US, Sidley Austin LLP, to clear the stigma of child labour hitting India's garment industry.
The US government had included Indian garments in the executive order list and trafficking victims protection reauthorisation list issued by the US Department of Labour in September last year. The list will be finalised in the next three to four months and if Indian garments are not excluded then it may hit Indian exports to US heavily.
“From time to time allegations of use of child labour have been raised against Indian exporters and it is high time that such misconceptions are cleared once and for all,” said a textiles ministry official. “After the meltdown, exports to the US have only recently started showing revival and it will be unfortunate if India is made to pay for such unsubstantiated claims.”
Textiles secretary Rita Menon has already written to Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao to take up this issue with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to New Delhi later this month.
“We have strongly denied any use of child labour within our industry but remain committed at the same time to ensure that there is no child labour in any factory in India,” said Premal Udani, chairman, Apparel Exporters Promotion Council.