BBC News reported today that India is taking a tougher stance on child labour. Tougher than government notification issued by the Ministry of Labour and Employment this August, that prohibited children below the age of 14 years being employed “as domestic servants or servants or in dhabas (roadside eateries), restaurants, hotels, motels, teashops, resorts, spas or in other recreational centres” and imposed penalties for the same.

But, the current push in the form of a proposal sent around by Ms. Renuka Chowdary, Minister for Women and Child Development to legal experts and state governments seeks to completely ban any child below the age of 11 working. Period.

According to the BBC, Ms. Chowdary said “”The idea behind the proposal is to ensure the right to education and a life of dignity to every single child as enshrined in our constitution.” The report does not explain how this suggestion will acheive this.

The Hindustan Times reports that the proposal also seeks to give “the government the power to notify rules to impart education to child labourer.” While education is a right for every child embodied in the Indian Constitution, the mechanics of this have been stuck in the ‘corridors of power’ making education possible only for the children of the rich.

And child rights NGOs say that every child not in school is vulnerable to child labour, and hence are advocating for the immediate roll out of the ‘Right to education’ act. And the consensus is that these ‘tough stances’ are nothing but half measures.

Education made available free for every child is the only way to end child labour in India.

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