The recent amendment to the child labour law has evoked mixed reactions among sociologists and child rights activists in Mumbai.
The Union government, in the amendment approved on Wednesday, has allowed children under 14 years to work in family or family enterprises after school.
While some welcomed the move, others slammed the decision, claiming children are not responsible for nation’s socio-economic development.
“On the whole, we welcome the amendment that prohibits children from working in industries, but they should have been also kept kids away from family enterprises, as many are hazardous in nature and involve long hours of work. Can we really hold children responsible for the country’s poverty and its upliftment?,” said Komal Ganotra, director of Child Rights and You (CRY).
Dr BV Bhosle, sociology professor at the University of Mumbai (MU) who specialises in labour studies, disagreed. “I don’t see a problem at all,” he said, citing his own example how he worked as a leather artisan at the family workshop during school days. “It never became a hindrance in my education. In fact, now people put a lot of emphasis on skill management, but I was already a skilled artisan as a child,” said Bhosle.
Dr Prahlad Jogdand, sociology professor and dean of the faculty of arts, MU, too was of the opinion that a child’s education or development wouldn’t be affected if one worked at a family enterprise. “As far as the occupation is not hazardous, I think the children are only helping the family cope with poverty,” he said.
Farida Lambey, co-founder of NGO Pratham, however, called the move regressive. “It’s very difficult to monitor family businesses. If one needs to improve the socio-economic condition, give the poor families a minimum wage they are entitled to under the labour act,” she said.