New labor law drastically sets backs children’s rights in India

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Modi’s government agreed to table an amendment to a 1986 law that banned employing children below 14 years of age in hazardous industries. While this seems a progressive step, the amendment in effect works against children. The law gives provisions children younger than 14 years of age to work in non-hazardous family enterprises because of the “social fabric” of India.

The so-called “social fabric” is one that is caste based, propping up a poverty-stricken social system, where millions of children help poor families in the fields and at home. This amendment would effectively open the floodgates for hundreds of thousands of children joining “family enterprises” created for exploitative employers.

This will push an equal number of adults out from the labor market, affecting the nation’s economy. Poverty, analysts say, does not cause child labor — it is the other way round. Child labor perpetuates poverty. When children work, they are actually doing what able-bodied adults should be doing. Children replace adults in the work force earning no or low wages.

This keeps general wages and the purchasing power of the people low. Poor purchasing power ensures that the national economy remains poor.