Target: Bandaru Dattatreya, State Minister of India’s Ministry of Labour & Employment
Goal: Revise India’s child labor laws and close loopholes that lead to the continued exploitation of child workers.
India’s new child labor laws still enable the exploitation and mistreatment of the nation’s youngest workers thanks to loopholes that allow children the opportunity to work in “family” enterprises. Under the new law, any child younger than 14 is forbidden from working. However, the law allows children to work in the home and in family businesses.
Many of India’s most popular industries are home-based. Seamstresses, furniture makers, almond huskers, and ironsmiths are only some of the home-based family enterprises that children will still be allowed to work in. Furthermore, because the children will work from home, their pay and working conditions cannot be regulated like that of a factory environment.
Critics of this new bill argue that it favors tradition over progress and safety and prevents young children from learning the importance of schooling. Economic pressures faced by families will force children to work in the home, preventing them from acquiring the education they need to better their lives and financial situations.
Employers in the country are already looking to take advantage of the situation. The definition of “family” is blurred. Not only sons and daughters, but nieces, nephews, and cousins can work in the businesses of family members. In India, underage children are severely underpaid. In some cases, a child is paid only one third of the amount an adult would make for doing the same job.
Children across the country are being taken advantage of. The new child labor bill is a start, but there is still much to be done to protect India’s youngest workers. Closing these loopholes is the first step. Sign the petition and let the Indian government know that children deserve the chance to be children and that the future and growth of the nation depends on the education of its youngest generation.
Dear Shri Dattatreya,
India has recently taken steps to protect child workers by updating the nation’s child labor laws. Such a move is an important action in ensuring that children have the opportunity to grow and learn. However, there are several alarming loopholes in the law that directly negate any improvements the law may have. Under the new law, children are still allowed to work in “family” enterprises.
This loophole is disturbing for several reasons. Many of India’s most lucrative industries are in the home. It is also much more difficult for home businesses to be regulated compared to factories. Finally, as the definition of family is blurry, employers can take advantage of this by employing distant “family” members in their businesses. Children will continue to be pulled away from school and into businesses where they are used as cheap and dispensable labor.
I urge you, as Minister of the Ministry of Labor and Employment, to take actions necessary to amend the nation’s most recent laws and close these loopholes. The future of the country depends on its children and it is education that will be needed to advance and grow the nation. This cannot happen if children are being exploited for labor.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Sayamindu Dasgupta