- 5-6 children employed in MT and Canteens
- Working hours from 6 am to 7 pm
- Do not receive formal education
- Wages range from Rs.700 to Rs.1000 a month, much below the minimum wages
- Authorities indifferent, feign ignorance
When we go to have a cup of tea at MT with our friends, how often do we notice the person who is serving us? Do we notice whether this person is a child or not? And even if we do, how many of us are concerned about child labor as an underlying and intangible issue that is encouraged in this campus, consciously or otherwise. Vox Populi decided to investigate further and came up with the following rules that are supposed to be followed in the Institute.
- Any person under the age of 14 years is defined as a child.
- No employment of such a person is allowed in canteens, shops, etc.
- Children cannot be employed between 7 pm and 8 am.
- Their working hours are restricted to 6 hours of work per day and at least 2 hours of education.
- The expense of their education has to be borne by their employer.
- They should have a holiday per week which should be displayed at the notice board.
- Minimum wages to be provided is Rs.104.41/- per day.
In general, The Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 clearly prohibits the employment of children under the age of 14 in factories, mines and hazardous areas and regulates their working conditions in nonhazardous ones. And while these rules are to be followed, we know that children right from the age of 8 or 9 are employed in places like the Shopping Centre and MT. Their working hours, especially those who work in MT, are from 6 am to 7 pm. They have no time to go to school or receive formal education, let alone the expense being paid by the employer. Even the minimum wage rule is violated mercilessly by their employers. And the sad part is that this is encouraged by the general indifference of the public and the apathy of the officials concerned, who are busy in naming each other as the “actual” authorities responsible. When members of the Vox Populi team approached the State Office official, Mr. K. N. Dhakale, enquiring about the rules and the state of child labor prevalent in the campus, he declared complete ignorance of the existence of such a problem here and named a Mr. Niranjan Das as the person responsible for handling cases of child labor. On repeated enquiries and assertions on our side, he sent one of his officers to enquire upon this and finally reported that they could not find a single child under employment! (which speaks volumes of the degraded system we live in). There are a few attempts to redeem the situation of these children, taken up independently by a few concerned individuals. For e.g., “Jagriti” is a rehabilitation centre run for these children where they are provided with food, shelter and education and is run by a fund by the faculty and staff. Also, the education of some of the children in MT is funded by a few students. Attempts were even made by few other students to provide them with night coaching. NGOs like Prayas and Shiksha Sopan also are working for the cause of such children. But these endeavors are few and far between, and not enough to improve the situation as a whole. And improve it cannot, when such an evil is thriving because of the unconscious support it is receiving from the majority of the people, because most of us here are too busy to stand for something as basic as the Right to Education of a fellow human being. It is us who are responsible for the ineffectual system that does nothing to improve the situation, because we never raise our voices against it. We are supposed to be the future of this country, but as we enter into this world, we have to remember that it is our responsibility to provide this country with another generation of a bright future, something we are not fulfilling presently. It is time we woke up to the situation and join forces to erase this stigma from the campus for a start, and the country as a whole. (Information as per the survey done in September’06)
This article was published in Vox Populi, October 2006 and raised the issue of the then prevalent problem: Child Labour