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Australian Parliamentary Report on Child Labour in India

GS-2 Mains : Child Labour 

Revision Notes


Question : Analyze the concerns raised by the Australian parliamentary committee regarding child labour in India in the context of the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (A-IECTA). Evaluate the implications of the A-IECTA for international labor rights and India’s efforts to combat child labour.

Why In News ?

  • An Australian parliamentary committee raised concerns about child labour in India during discussions on the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (A-IECTA).

Key Points:

  • The report criticizes the A-IECTA for not recognizing international labour rights.
  • India has a documented issue with child and forced labour, contributing significantly to modern slavery.

Child Labour in India:

  • Defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO) as work that harms children’s development and deprives them of their childhood.
  • As per the 2011 census, India has approximately 1.01 crore working children between 5 and 14 years old.
  • A 2011 Indian parliamentary report identified Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra as employing over half of India’s child labourers.
  • While the number has decreased since 2001, child labour remains more prevalent in rural areas due to migration.

Causes of Child Labour in India:

  • Poverty: Many families rely on children’s income to survive.
  • Debt Bondage: Families are forced to send children to work to repay loans.
  • Conflict and Migration: Disruptions from internal strife, natural disasters, or economic instability expose children to labour.
  • Demand for Cheap Labour: Industries like agriculture, manufacturing, and domestic work benefit from cheap child labour.

Constitutional Provisions Against Child Labour:

  • Article 23: Prohibits human trafficking, forced labour (begar), and similar practices.
  • Article 24: Bans employing children under 14 in factories, mines, or hazardous activities.
  • Article 21-A: Guarantees free and compulsory education for children aged 6-14.

Steps Taken Against Child Labour in India

Government Initiatives:

  • Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986: Bans children under 14 from hazardous work.
  • National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme: Provides education, vocational training, and support to rescued child labourers (aged 9-14).
  • PENCIL Portal: An online platform for collaboration between government, NGOs, and citizens to tackle child labour.
  • ILO Conventions: Ratified Conventions 138 (Minimum Age) and 182 (Worst Forms) in 2017.

International Measures:

  • UN International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour (2021): Aims to end child labour by 2025.
  • SDG Target 8.7: Calls for eradicating forced labour and child labour.
  • ALLIANCE 8.7: Global partnership to achieve SDG Target 8.7.

The Way Forward:

  • Debate exists on balancing immediate enforcement of high labour standards with economic development.
  • Trade agreements should include enforceable labour rights to prevent a “race to the bottom” on worker protections.

Source : https://indianexpress.com/article/business/economy/india-australi-trade-deal-australian-parliamentary-report-questions-deal-over-concerns-of-child-labour-in-india-9314654/

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