According to UNICEF, an estimated 28 million children, ages 5-14, engage in child labor in India. While the Indian government claims to prioritize child labor and lessen this skyrocketing number, the Modi administration recently expanded the scope of child labor by redefining “work” in the Child Labour Prohibition Act, which will allow child labor only for “family enterprises.”
According to a report in the Economic Times, it means “children are helping the family in fields, forests and home-based work after school hours or during vacations, or while attending technical institutions.” This includes “carpet-weaving, beedi-rolling, lock and matchbox making.” This also leaves a lot of interpretation for “family enterprise” in a country with high levels of poverty and corruption.
This amendment will likely have devastating consequences to the future of millions of children in India who will either be forced to work to help support their families, or will be sold into a child trafficking ring where they are to “work” for a larger enterprise. Further, the focus will not be where it should – on the education system, which rewards those with money and means and forgets about those without status.