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India ratifies Two Fundamental Global Conventions to combat Child Labour

India has ratified two key global conventions for combating child labour as a step towards creating full respect for fundamental rights at work.

Salient Highlights

India has deposited the instruments of ratification of the two fundamental ILO Conventions with the International Labour Office (ILO). The two key conventions are related to the elimination of child labour- the Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No 138) and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182). 

India has become the 170th member of ILO to ratify the Convention No. 138, which requires the member parties to set a minimum age under which no one should be employed in any occupation, except for light work and artistic performances.

India has become the 181st member of ILO to ratify Convention No 182 which requires state parties to prohibit and eliminate 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.

The elimination of Child Labour from the country is also essential to achieve Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The ratification of these conventions will help in achieving Goal 8 of the sustainable development goals which aims at complete eradication of child labour by 2025 and calls for prohibition and elimination of its worst forms.

Government Initiatives

The government has recently amended the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 which came into effect in September 2016. This amendment prohibits employment of children below 14 years in any occupation or process. It also prohibits the employment of adolescents (14 to 18 years) in hazardous occupations and processes.

The government has also strengthened the National Child Labour Project. It is a rehabilitative scheme that provides bridge education and vocational training to adolescents.

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Cabinet approves ratification of 2 ILO conventions on prohibiting child labour

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for ratification of two fundamental conventions of International Labour Organization (ILO) concerning with Child Labour.

They are Minimum Age Convention (No 138) and Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (No 182). Now these conventions will be legally binding.

Key Facts
  • Minimum Age Convention (No 138) or Convention 138: It is concerned with minimum age for admission to employment. So far, it has been ratified by 169 countries.
  • Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (No 182) or Convention 182: It is concerned with the prohibition and immediate action for elimination of the worst forms of Child Labour. It has been ratified by 180 countries.
Background

The Government has adopted multipronged strategy including both project based approach and stringent legislative measures to address the concerns related to child labour in the country. However, there is a need to further ensure a safe and fulfilled future for the children by ensuring proper implementation of provisions of Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 which completely prohibits children employment below 14 years in any occupation or process. Recent initiatives taken by Government to eradicate child labour also needs to be maintained for elimination of child labour for attainment of Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Comment
  • The ratification of these conventions will be step ahead in direction of achieving goal of eradication of child labour from country as it would be legally binding to comply with the provisions of the Conventions.
  • By ratifying these conventions, India will also join majority of the countries who have adopted the legislation to prohibit and place severe restrictions on the employment and work of children.

About International Labour Organisation (ILO)

  • The ILO is a United Nations agency dealing with labour issues, particularly international labour standards, social protection, and work opportunities for all.
  • It was established in 1919 as an agency of the League of Nations and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. India is a founder member of the ILO. At present, it has 187 members.
  • The principal means of action in the ILO is the setting up of International standards in the form of Conventions, Recommendations and Protocol.
  • So far India has ratified 45 Conventions, out of which 42 are in force. Out of these 4 are Core or Fundamental or Conventions.

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Unemployment in India to increase marginally in 2017-18: ILO

According to recently released World Employment and Social Outlook for 2017, the number of unemployed people in India is expected to rise by 1 lakh in 2017 and another 2 lakh in 2018.

The report was released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) with projections based on econometric modelling carried out in November 2016.  The report has clubbed India in the category of emerging nations.

Key highlights of the report
  • Number of jobless in India will increase from 17.7 million in 2016 to 18 million by 2018 even though the country’s unemployment rate is expected to go down from 3.5% to 3.4% in 2017.
  • India performed slightly well in terms of job creation in 2016, as majority of the 13.4 million new employment were created.
  • Globally, the number of jobless people will increase by 3.4 million in 2017. The global unemployment rate is expected to rise modestly from 5.7 to 5.8% in 2017 as pace of labour force growth outstrips job creation.
  • The increase in unemployment levels and rates in 2017 will be driven by deteriorating labour market conditions in emerging countries.
  • Vulnerable forms of employment, which include own account workers and contributing family workers are expected to stay above 42% of total employment.
  • About 1.4 billion people are likely to be engaged in such employment in 2017, with the number rising by 11 million per year. Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia will be the most affected.
  • In developing countries, the number of workers earning less than $3.10 per day is even expected to increase by more than 5 million over the next two years.
  • Global uncertainty and the lack of decent jobs are, among some of the other factors, underpinning social unrest and migration in many parts of the world.

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