Like many other laws in this fabian socialist country of ours, the ban on child labour, fits neatly into the category of well-intentioned-but-moronic. When legislators, no doubt high on the dopey red book, unfortunately, feel the sudden urge to help India’s exploited, malnourished and illiterate children, they do what they are best at; draft showcase laws that make them look noble but screw-up the situation anyway. The ban, at it’s essence, is discriminatory against children by denying them an opportunity to earn, an opportunity to feed themselves. If the government really wants to help children, it could start by deregulating the archaic labour laws, which in effect would generate valuable employment, which in turn would mean increased income for families, and increased affordability, of education and a better future. It could start by integrating the large unorganised labour sector into the mainstream, which would encourage the use of legally binding employment contracts. It could start by recognising that contracts are essentially a mutual agreement between two parties, and that the government’s job isn’t about determining what this agreement should contain, but only about seeing to the non-violation of this contract by either parties involved. Instead the government, in all it’s wisdom, expects poverty stricken children to magically transform into regular school going kids, who can suddenly afford the opportunity cost that education involves. oh wait, did i just say school going kids? where are the schools? Ah, damn the schools. They will have to wait for yet another law. And till then my dear children, you can sit at home and well…stay hungry. Apparently that is somehow better than being underpaid. Hail the nobel socialists. They must feel like such studs.
Footnote: Child labour poster girl still working