Raises Concerns About Misuse
Recently the Indian Cabinet approved a proposal that legalised children above 14 years working in family enterprises. The clause however exempts children from any kind of work in the hazardous sector.
Though this law is perhaps addressed to serve the cause of families who are economically challenged and many a times avoid sending their children to school for fear of losing an earning member but my fear is without the right kind of padding, it is one such provision that can be easily misused and may work against the interest if the very kids for whose betterment it is being aimed at.
For example a child above 14 years of age is at a crucial juncture in his or her academic career too. They are preparing for their main exams that pave the pathway for higher education. Hence by legalising work after school for them, am not sure if it deprives them of precious study time to prepare for their Class X and Class XII exams. Also if the motivation of this proposal is to ease the burden of the education related costs on the overall family, a batter approach would be the state adopting these children and handling their education expenses through a scholarship or a subsidy programmes. This I believe will also be a greater incentive for the families to send their children to school.
Another fact is after a hard day in school, kids need time to relax and rejuvenate and prepare for the next day. If they get to work soon after coming from school, their body gets no time to recoup. This tiredness and fatigue can also harm their academic performance. On the contrary if the Govt organised well planned and selective tutorial classes for these kids after school and eased the family’s worry in terms of providing both resources and the money to get these would be far more constructive for the child’s future.
Finally I believe that many times economically challenged families resort to engaging every member of the family in their chosen means of livelihood. Legalising the children’s participation beyond 14 years might also impact the child’s aspiration for future. Therefore I believe this provision opens up a Pandora’s Box of potential misuse. The policymakers need to take a more comprehensive view point and there is urgent need to pad-up this provision with safety clauses to avoid forcing children into labour.