Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
Mr Cliff, Mr Joshi, Diwan Chaman Lall and Miss Power dissent from this view and are of the opinion that the minimum age of employment in factories coming under the Factories Act should be raised forthwith to 13 years, and that five years thereafter Government should reconsider the position with a view to bringing the age into conformity with the standard laid down in Article II of the International Convention dealing with the minimum age for admission of children into industrial employment. In Article VI of that Convention, which came into force in June 1921, special provision was made in the case of India, allowing for a minimum age of 12 years. They hold that the intervening ten years has given both the community and organised industry, with which we are concerned in this chapter, a reasonable period in which to become adjusted to a higher minimum age standard. In no part of India did the physique of the children working in regulated factories appear to them to be of a standard higher than that of Western children of similar age or to be such as would justify the continued retention of a lower minimum age standard. Nor do they consider that the attainment by India of the standard laid down in Article II of the Convention should be dependent upon the establishment in the industrial areas of compulsory primary education. Moreover, in their opinion the amount of dislocation caused should not be great since they believe that it will be found that many children now employed in regulated factories will not leave their villages for the industrial areas till such work is available for them. The majority of the Commission fear that the result will be that some children may seek work in unregulated factories, replacing younger ones whose continued employment in such places will become illegal if our recommendations in a subsequent chapter are adopted, and that the hours in such places will continue for some time to be longer than those at present operative, or now proposed, in respect of regulated factories. The minority believe, however, that this will apply only in a limited number of cases and that it represents a temporary phase, pending the synchronising of the minimum age in both classes of establishment. Even if there were greater force in this argument than they believe to be the case, it would in their opinion be unreasonable to defer any longer the raising of the minimum age for employment of children in establishments coming under the Factories Act. Their recommendation is made in the belief that it will be in the national interest for this age to be increased to 14 years and that the method suggested will achieve this end without undue economic dislocation to parents or industry.