The Indian government on 13 June 2017 ratified two fundamental Conventions of the International Labour Office (ILO) concerning the elimination of child labour, the Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No 138) and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182).
Speaking on the development, Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said that the ratification of the two ILO Conventions reaffirmed India’s commitment to creating a child labour free society.
The ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder welcomed India among the member states party to the two fundamental Conventions and stated that the body recognises the great progress India has made against child labour in recent years and the major role played by its convergence model of coherence between public policies and services.
Further, Ryder added that India’s recent move is a positive step on the country’s path towards full respect for fundamental rights at work.
• India is the 170th ILO member state to ratify Convention No 138 that requires states party to set a minimum age under which no one shall be admitted to employment or work in any occupation with the exception of light work and artistic performances.
• It is 181st member state to ratify Convention No 182 that calls for the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including slavery, forced labour and trafficking, the use of children in armed conflict, the use of a child for prostitution, pornography and in illicit activities such as drug trafficking and hazardous work.
• Prior to this, India has taken a series of measures to end child labour including the amendment to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 that came into effect in September 2016.
• India also strengthened the National Child Labour Project, which is a rehabilitative scheme providing bridge education and vocational training to adolescents.
• The current amendment will now completely prohibit the employment and work of children below 14 years in any occupation or process and also prohibits the employment of adolescents (14 to 18 years) in hazardous occupations and processes.
According to Dattatreya, the momentum of the recent initiatives taken by India to eradicate child labour has to be maintained as the elimination of child labour is also crucial for the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
With India’s decision of ratifying the conventions, universal ratification of the conventions is within reach, according to Ryder. As of now, only six member states remain to ratify the conventions.