India today ratified two fundamental global conventions on combating child labour which a top ILO official described as a “positive step” on the country’s path towards full respect for fundamental rights at work. The Indian government today deposited with the International Labour Office (ILO) the instruments of ratification of the two fundamental ILO Conventions concerning the elimination of child labour — the Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No 138) and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182). Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said ratification of the two ILO Conventions reaffirmed India’s “commitment to a child labour free society,” according to an ILO statement. ILO Director-General Guy Ryder welcomed India among the member states party to the two fundamental Conventions.
“We all recognise 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, which was strongly supported by the ILO,” he said. India’s ratifications of Conventions 138 and 182 “solidifies further – in treaty obligations – that commitment to the global fight against the scourge of child labour in all its forms. They also represent a positive step on the country’s path towards full respect for fundamental rights at work,” he added. India is the 170th ILO member state to ratify Convention No 138, which requires states party to set a minimum age under which no one shall be admitted to employment or work in any occupation, except for light work and artistic performances.
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The second most populous country in the world is the 181st member state to ratify Convention No 182, which 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. Dattatreya outlined a series of measures taken by India to end child labour, including the amendment to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 which came into effect in September 2016. This amendment now completely prohibits employment or 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.
Another key measure taken recently by India to meet the objective of a child labour free society is the strengthening of the National Child Labour project, which is a rehabilitative scheme providing bridge education and vocational training to adolescents. “The momentum of the recent initiatives taken to eradicate child labour has to be maintained as elimination of child labour is also crucial for the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” Dattatreya said. Ryder said universal ratification of the conventions is “within reach” and as of today, only six member states remain to ratify this fundamental convention.
“This reflects the overwhelming global consensus, as re- affirmed by the adoption of the sustainable development goals and more particularly Goal 8….which aims at the complete eradication of child labour by 2025 and calls for immediate action to prohibit and eliminate its worst forms,” the head of the ILO said.