Perhaps inspired from his own childhood, when he use to sell tea to help his father, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government tweaked 1986 Child Labour law on Wednesday, reports The Indian Express
. The proposed changes have to now be approved by parliament.
The cabinet approved amendments that aimed at imposing a broader ban on childhood work but also allowed children below 14 years of age to work in family enterprises and in the entertainment industry, except the circus, provided their school education is not affected.
The government justified the exceptions by stating:
“It is to strike a balance between the need for education for a child and reality of the socio-economic condition and social fabric in the country”.
The government also proposed stricter punishment for parents and employers for violating the Act. Parents and guardians will not be penalized for the first offence but, for a second offence, they would be fined up to Rs 20,000. For employers, the first offence of employing any child or adolescent would attract imprisonment between six months to two years or and a fine ranging between Rs 20,000 and 50,000, or both.
The move has drawn the ire of child activists who say it would allow more child exploitation. Amod K Kanth, who runs a non-profit organization, Prayas, told Reuters:
“It is a regressive step as children are mostly employed with the consent of their parents. A child who goes to school has to spend all the time in school. He is not supposed to work. How would you peep into a house to see whether parents are obeying the law or violating it?”