19-year-old Amarlal who dreams of being a human rights lawyer on Wednesday was working as bonded labor at the age of four. He knows what a big difference education has made to his life. “I know what it is like to be stuck in that darkness. There is a world of a difference between that life and this,” Amarlal said.
Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed amendments to the Child Labour law which permits children below 14 to work in family enterprises after school and on holiday.
“The government is on the verge of a demographical disaster,” said Samajwadi Party MP Ravi Prakash Varma.
But his words didn’t have the desired impact. Union Labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya defended and said the government aims to completely eradicate child labour. “The only exception is for family enterprises. There is no employee/employer relationship in family businesses,” he said.
The Bill passed with little opposition in the Upper House drastically cuts down on the number of industries that are considered hazardous for children, from 83 to just 3, effectively knocking off zari work, bangle-making, garment industry, leather and tanneries among others in the list.
Nobel Lareaute Kailash Satyarthi too expressed his disappointment, “There is a thin line between family enterprise and employers. In the past, there have been many instances where employers have claimed to be the fathers, uncles or children, sometimes of up to 30 children. Now, they will have legal backing.”
The Bill backed by the ruling BJP has to be passed in Lok Sabha before it becomes a law, which will not be a problem given the NDA’s numbers in the house.