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See Dick and Jane “Tote That Barge and Lift That Bale”

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COMMENT: In FTR #795, we noted that Narendra Modi was politically evolved from the Hindu nationalist/fascist milieu of the RSS. (An “alumnus” of that political environment murdered Gandhi.)

In addition, we have seen that Modi’s election was heavily buttressed by Ebay’s Pierre Omidyar, who has underwritten Glenn Greenwald’s recent journalistic ventures and partially bankrolled the 2014 Ukraine coup that brought the heirs of the OUN/B to power.

Modi is implementing the laissez-faire agenda favored by Omidyar, a cynical “corporatist” agenda that is poised to restore child labor in India.

The laissez-faire/corporatist agenda championed by Omidyar and Morsi is at one with the “austerity” doctrine promulgated by the GOP, Germany, the IMF and the Underground Reich.

“Get to work, kids! And be sure to bring your wages home to your [unemployed] mom and dad.”

“The Modi Gov­ern­ment Is Send­ing Mil­lions of Kids Back into Exploita­tive Labour” by Rashme Seh­gal; Quartz; 5/4/2015.

An amend­ment to the Child Labour Pro­hi­bi­tion Act pro­posed by the Naren­dra Modi-led gov­ern­ment is about to undo years of hard-won progress in the area of child labour—and con­demn mil­lions of kids to exploita­tive employment.

The amend­ment will allow chil­dren below the age of 14 to work in “fam­ily enter­prises”—a euphemism for indus­tries such as carpet-weaving, beedi–rolling, gem-polishing, lock-making and matchbox-making. The new norms will also apply to the enter­tain­ment indus­try and sports.

The amend­ment flies in the face of the Right to Edu­ca­tion Act (RTE), 2009, which guar­an­tees edu­ca­tion to every child. After the RTE came in, child labour dropped from 12.6 mil­lion in 2001 to 4.3 mil­lion in 2014. The amend­ment will undo much of that progress. It will also be a seri­ous set­back to all the work done by activists, such as Swami Agnivesh and Nobel lau­re­ate Kailash Sat­yarthi, to res­cue chil­dren from bonded labour and exploitation.

Mirzapur-based Shamshad Khan, pres­i­dent of the Cen­tre for Rural Edu­ca­tion and Devel­op­ment Action, calls the move “retrogressive.”

“All our cam­paigns to end bonded child labour, start­ing from the eight­ies, will go up in smoke,” Khan said. “Schools will be emp­tied out, and poor chil­dren in states like Bihar, Jhark­hand and Uttar Pradesh will be back to work­ing in sheds and makeshift fac­to­ries that will all go by the nomen­cla­ture of ‘fam­ily enter­prises.’ The worst-hit will be the chil­dren of Dal­its, Mus­lims, tribal fam­i­lies and those belong­ing to mar­gin­alised communities.”

The amend­ment can also be used to deny edu­ca­tion to the girl child, who will be sucked into all forms of house­work. Accord­ing to gov­ern­ment sta­tis­tics, male lit­er­acy lev­els in 2014 stood at about 82%, while female lit­er­acy lev­els were as low as 64%. The school drop-out rate for girls is almost dou­ble the rate for boys.

An uncon­sti­tu­tional change

Ban­daru Dat­ta­treya, India’s min­is­ter of labour and employ­ment, announced in early April that the gov­ern­ment planned to intro­duce amend­ments to the Child Labour Pro­hi­bi­tion Act in the cur­rent ses­sion of Parliament.

His min­istry, while seek­ing the amend­ments, said the Act will not apply to chil­dren help­ing fam­i­lies in home-based work, and espe­cially fam­i­lies work­ing in agri­cul­ture and animal-rearing. The objec­tive of these amend­ments, accord­ing to min­istry offi­cials, is to help chil­dren nur­ture a spirit of entre­pre­neur­ship. They will par­tic­u­larly help chil­dren of fam­i­lies cur­rently liv­ing at sub­sis­tence lev­els, the min­istry claims.

Child rights activists say the move will ben­e­fit fac­tory own­ers in India’s cow belt. Their prof­its will esca­late four­fold as chil­dren could be made to work longer hours and paid less than adults.

Enakshi Gan­guly Thukral of HAQ Cen­tre for Child Rights believes this is an attempt by the Modi gov­ern­ment to ensure a size­able chunk of the pop­u­la­tion remains in the infor­mal sec­tor, deprived of min­i­mum wages and social security.

“The gov­ern­ment is not in a posi­tion to pro­vide jobs for mil­lions of young peo­ple,” said Thukral. “Such a ret­ro­grade step will help ensure mil­lions of kids remain illit­er­ate and, there­fore, unemployable.”

Bad old days again

Major cut­backs in the 2015 bud­get in the areas of health, women and chil­dren, and edu­ca­tion will fur­ther com­pound this prob­lem. Thukral said labour offi­cials are already guilty of under-reporting child labour. “But once child labour is per­mit­ted under one guise or the other, then even a min­i­mum [level] of account­abil­ity will cease to exist,” she said.

Labour offi­cials at the dis­trict level are empow­ered to file cases against employ­ers hir­ing chil­dren but few employ­ers are ever con­victed. Sta­tis­tics from the labour min­istry for 2004–2014 show that there have been 1,168 con­vic­tions for chil­dren employed in haz­ardous indus­tries with about Rs83 lakh col­lected in fines. This money has been des­ig­nated for the reha­bil­i­ta­tion and wel­fare of child labour. How­ever, in this period, only Rs5 lakh was dis­bursed from this fund.

Khan recalls the period before the RTE Act, when dalals (touts) openly knocked on the doors of rich seths (mer­chants or busi­ness­men) to sell traf­ficked children.

“In the eight­ies, kids were being paid a daily wage of as lit­tle as Rs4 per day,” he said. “We kept up pres­sure on the gov­ern­ment, insist­ing that all out-of-school kids be cat­e­gorised as child labour. This open traf­fick­ing of kids declined sharply with the RTE Act. If the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) suc­ceeds in intro­duc­ing such a dan­ger­ous amend­ment, we will be back to those old days.” . . . .




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