New Delhi: Accelerating its fight against child labour, India is now preparing a roadmap for ratification of an international convention that prohibits child labour in hazardous occupations.
The Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act 1986 prohibits employment of children below 14 years of age in certain occupations and processes considered hazardous but
remains silent on the agriculture sector where the majority, or 70 percent, of the working children are engaged.
Addressing a conference on child labour recently, Minister of State for Labour and Employment Harish Rawat announced that the Government is making a roadmap towards
ratification of ILO convention 182 on worst forms of child labour that bars employment of children under the age of 18.
"Even if there is a single child engaged in child labour, it is a challenge for us as government and to all of you as citizens and civil society partners," Rawat told the South
Asian Regional Consultation on Child Labour on Agriculture held here last week.
Experts said the announcement by the minister can be viewed as a step forward towards elimination of child labour in agriculture -- the most ignored and least discussed issue
in the country.
"It`s certainly a good news for us. If the government ratifies the ILO Convention and follows it strictly, it would certainly benefit thousands of children working in hazardous
conditions across the country," JR Sharan of NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) told a news agency.
"Agriculture is a segment where child labour is available in abundant and the government has no figure as to how many children are employed in this sector."
But the ratification of ILO Convention, he hoped, would at least push India to act accordingly to match up with other countries.
The 1999 ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention held in Geneva calls for member countries, which ratify the Convention, to take immediate and effective measures to "secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency".
According to the convention, a child is a person under the age of 18, who should be prevented from slavery, trafficking, forced or compulsory labour, prostitution and all
kinds of illicit activities.