On the World Day against Child Labour on June 12, 2020 the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) and the V.V. Giri National Labour Institute (VVGNLI) in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO), New Delhi organized a National Stakeholder Webinar on “COVID-19: Protect Children From Child Labour, Now More Than Ever”. This World Day against Child Labour in 2020 focuses on the impact of COVID-19 crisis on child labour.
The webinar was inaugurated by Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Minister of State for Labour and Employment (I/C). He acknowledged the efforts of Shri Kailash Satyarthi and also the efforts of the ILO towards the elimination of child labour. He stated that children are an integral part of any country and need to be empowered with protection of their rights. He mentioned that in observing 12th June as the World Day against Child Labour, the Government of India has reiterated its commitment towards eradication of child labour. The Amendment of the child labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016 is a noteworthy achievement of the Government of India, he stated. He also spoke about the various initiatives taken by the government in the eradication of child labour including the increase in the NCLP training centres stipends to Rs 400 from Rs 150 per month per child. He emphasized that the ratification of ILO conventions 182 and 138 reflect on India’s commitment towards this cause. At the end, he highlighted on the need for collective efforts by all stakeholders towards the eradication of child labour.
Shri Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Laureate in his special address, acknowledged the children participating in the webinar. He also referred to the historical decisions taken in the context of child labour in the past. He stated that the efforts of the government of India has contributed immensely in reduction in the numbers in child labour. The ratification of ILO Conventions 182 and 138 reflect on India’s commitment towards the elimination of child labour. He referred to studies which have reflected on the need to invest in children’s education. He highlighted that in order to revive the economy, it is important to attract foreign investment but there is a need to ensure no child labour is engaged in supply chains. He emphasized on the need to ensure adults receive employment instead of children so that the employed children get liberated to pursue education and grow into healthy citizens.
Shri Heeralal Samariya, Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, presided over the inaugural session. He highlighted the various labour legislations and policy initiatives taken by the government which have led to amelioration of the child labour problem. He further highlighted the efforts of the Ministry of Labour and Employment during the COVID-19 pandemic by opening up grievance handling centers throughout the country by the chief labour commissioner office and the efforts of Employees Provident Fund Organization in promptly clearing the disbursals apart from the medical succor provided by the ESIC hospitals. He said that the Ministry is continuously monitoring and taking immediate necessary steps so that the common man and the vulnerable children are taken care of.
Dagmar Walter, Director, ILO India, gave her perspective on the global child labour problem and said that the so called ‘normal’ is getting redefined as today this programme is being held virtually. She called upon all the stakeholders to contribute to reduce the child labour problem.
Earlier, Ms Kalpana Rajsinghot, Joint Secretary in her welcome address highlighted the problem of child labour and also the steps taken by the government in addressing the challenges, from time to time. She also outlined the contours of the webinar.
The inaugural session was followed by Two Technical Sessions on the themes ‘COVID-19: Protect Children from Child Labour-Across Sectors’ and ‘Barriers and Solutions in addressing the Rehabilitation Programme’. Resource Persons from the Central and State Government, ILO, NCPCR, Employers Organizations, Workers Organizations, VVGNLI Faculty, and NALSAR shared various technicalities of the child labour problem.
Dr. H. Srinivas, Director General, VVGNLI proposed the vote of thanks and also provided consolidation and way forward. Dr. Helen Sekar, Senior Fellow, VVGNLI coordinated the programme. The webinar was attended by around 450 government representatives, representatives from ILO and other international organizations, trade unions, employers’ organizations, academicians, representatives from research institutions and faculty and officers from VVGNLI.