Hyderabad, Nobel Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi on Friday demanded a ban on all forms of labour by children up to 14 years in India, saying the country can’t sustain economic growth and eradicate poverty without educating all children.
He urged the government to bring a bill in the next part of the budget session of parliament to amend the existing child labour law, which prohibits child labour only in hazardous industries.
Satyarthi, who bagged the Nobel Prize for Peace for his work in the area of child rights, termed the existing law obsolete and contradictory to the Right to Education Act, which made education compulsory for every child upto 14 years.
The child rights activist also wants the government to ban all worst forms of child labour up to the age of 18 so that it can match with the existing Juvenile Justice Act.
“It is a paradox rather shameful that India has enacted two new progressive laws over the years – Right to Education Act and Juvenile Justice Act – but the child labour law of 1986 allows all forms of child labour except hazardous form up to age of 14,” said Satyarthi at a ‘Meet the Press’ event at Hyderabad Press Club.
Satyarthi also demanded that that all rescued child labourers should be entitled for rehabilitation under government schemes.
He also wanted India to ratify two international conventions banning child labour, saying it was unfortunate that India has not ratified the convention banning worst forms of child labour like slavery and child prostitution upto age of 18.
Satyarthi, whose idea and worldwide march led to this international law, said 179 countries have ratified it but India is in the club of Sierra Leone, Cuba and other smaller countries who have not ratified it.
He said India had also not ratified another convention banning all forms of child labour up to age of 14. As many as 168 countries have already ratified this international law.
Satyarthi said the Nobel Prize had given sense of pride to people in India and increased awareness on child labour with judiciary, honest officers and media playing proactive role but there is a need to prioritize children on the political radar.
“What we need is change of culture of politics. Politicians look for next elections. We have to shift from next elections to next generation.”
He said it was the responsibility of every section of society to play its role in eradication of child labour and underlined the need of religious leaders in fighting the evils like child labour, child prostitution, killing of girl child and gender discrimination.
The activist said that globally there are 17 crore child labourers but there are 20 crore unemployed adults.
He said abolition of child labour should be made part of new sustainable development goals for 2016-2030.
He also called upon the United Nations and the international community to include abolition of child slavery in the development agenda. Globally there are about 55 lakh child slaves.