Labour Investigation Committee (1946)||
One black spot of labour conditions in India is the illegal employment of children in certain industries. There are no doubt legal provisions, such as the Employment of Children Act (1938), amended in 1939 so as to cover a number of small unregulated industries, and sections in the Factories Act
and the Indian Mines Act, prohibiting the employment of children below a certain age. Nevertheless, in several concerns, the law appears to be infringed openly and with impunity In large factory industries, generally speaking, the evil is non-existent. However, in mica-splitting, shellac, bidi-making, carpet-weaving, glass and other small-scale industries, whether covered by the Factories Act or by the Employment of Children Act, child labour is still largely employed. In the match industry, especially in South India and in the cement industry in Rajputana also, child labour is employed to a very large extent. In the States, the situation is probably worse. For example, we found little girls employed in the Cochin State, in the spinning sections of the cotton textile industry, while in Kashmir children of 5 or 6 years work in carpet-weaving. There are many spacious arguments advanced by employees—who openly infringe the law—why children have to be employed: e.g., that the income of the family needs supplementing; that, in any case, the children will be idle owing to lack of educational facilities; etc. Those who employ children clandestinely, on the other hand, resort to various subterfuges, to which often the parents and relatives of the children are party. We think that it is not enough merely to prohibit the employment of children, but that it is essential to adopt simultaneously positive measures to wean away child labour from industrial employment. Government owe a duty to the future generations of workers to see that childhood is not wasted in the dingy corners of factories and workshops, instead of being educated in schools and brought up in nurseries and on playgrounds. We have no doubt that this is the accepted policy of Government but the policy needs the fullest enforcement through proper inspection and provision of educational and other facilities for workers' children.