SC warns Mayawati for overspending on statues

Uttar Pradesh is in a deep freeze. A severe cold wave has killed 134 people in the past three days. Chief minister Mayawati, though, is unfazed. She’s readying for a party, busy spending crores to celebrate her 55th birthday in pomp.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has issued a notice to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati over her grand plans to install 40 statues of herself, her mentor Kanshi Ram and B R Ambedkar across the state. The statues have cost Rs 2,000 crore of public money.

LUCKNOW: BSP chief Mayawati spent over Rs 86 crore of public money to renovate her 13 Mall Avenue bungalow that she is entitled to as a former chief minister. The renovation work began after Maya took over as chief minister in 2007 but the bulk of the work got completed towards the end of her tenure.

This was revealed in an RTI application that SP leader Shivpal Yadav filed when he was the leader of Opposition during Maya’s tenure. Though the RTI plea dates back a year, the estate department revealed the details recently.

“We are still assessing the total cost incurred and indications are that the money spent might even exceed Rs 100 crore,” a senior estate department official said on the condition of anonymity

The Fodder Scam (Hindi: चारा घोटाला, chārā ghoṭālā) was a corruption scandal that involved the embezzlement of about INR9.4 billion(equivalent to INR25 billion or US$410 million in 2014) from the government treasury of the eastern Indian state of Bihar.[1] Among those implicated in the theft and arrested were then Chief Minister of Bihar, Lalu Prasad Yadav, as well as former Chief Minister, Jagannath Mishra.[2][3] The scandal led to the end of Lalu’s reign as Chief Minister. There is also allegation on Shivanand Tiwari of receiving 1 crore and 60 lakh Rupees respectively from S.N. Sinha.

Laloo Prasad Yadav, then chief ministerof Bihar, was a prime accused in the fodder scam investigation

police rounded up 26 children from three textiles factories and a metal processing plant, but dozens more are believed to have escaped. Those captured had all come to New Delhi from the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Child labourers sit on the floor of the district magistrates office as they wait to be processed after being rescued during a raid at a garment factory in New Delhi, India, June 12.


Child labourers sit on the floor of the district magistrates office as they wait to be processed after being rescued during a raid at a garment factory in New Delhi, India, June 12.

NEW DELHI—Police raids on factories in the Indian capital revealed dozens of migrant kids hard at work Tuesday despite laws against child labour.

Police rounded up 26 children from three textiles factories and a metal processing plant, but dozens more are believed to have escaped. Those captured had all come to New Delhi from the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

“Some of them were working in acid and metal,” with the task of breaking down metals and mixing alloys, said Kailash Satyarthi of India’s charity Save the Child.

Some were embroidering women’s clothing including saris and had been coached to deflect questions from authorities about their work.

“I have just come from my village. I have come here to study,” said 11-year-old Samshad, explaining that he was choosing to work during a “holiday.” His 10-year-old colleague Samthu, however, admitted he did intricate needlework for the plant.

There are at least hundreds of thousands of children toiling in hidden and hazardous corners of India, including brick kilns, pesticide-laden fields or chemical factories.

In New Delhi alone, about 50,000 children are believed to be working in factories, with thousands more begging on the streets and sorting garbage.

India recently passed a law aimed at fighting child labour by making education compulsory up to age 14. But grinding poverty still leads many kids to work, and certain industries that involve intricate machinery or delicate handiwork prefer their smaller hands.

Sometimes, the factories promise the children only food and a place to sleep. Sometimes, they pay for the children’s work in advance to their parents when the kids are taken for work — a situation that Satyarthi said essentially amounts to child slavery.

The charity said it rescued 1,300 children last year from work in Delhi factories.

During Tuesday’s raids, five men were arrested on charges of employing the children.

The kids, some of them crying at being taken from their jobs, were registered at an officials’ office in Seelampur slum district of east Delhi before going to a state welfare home for children.

India has 43.5 lakh labourers in the age group of 5 to 14 years, according to the 2011 census. Uttar Pradesh has the maximum number of child workers with nearly 9 lakh and a majority of them are in the rural areas. This is followed by Maharashtra with close to 5 lakh.

Most of the child labour in UP, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh is in rural areas. Of the 9 lakh children employed in UP, about 7 lakh work in rural areas. Similarly, in Rajasthan, of the 2.5 lakh child labourers, 2.1 lakh are in rural areas. Across the country, there are 32.7 lakh children working in rural areas compared to 10.8 lakh in urban areas.

Children in UP are employed in the carpet and textile industries as well as domestic help in cities. “Many children are employed in carpet and textile industries in the state. We have adopted 200 villages in the state and have successfully weaned away children from these industries,” said Lenin Raghuvanshi, executive director, Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) involved in Varanasi and nearby districts. Campaign and boycott of goods made by Indian children across the world has also lent a sense of urgency to tackling the social evil.

“States which have more children in employment should set up taskforces as done in Delhi. In many northern states, there is lack of will to implement various laws to prevent employment of children in harzardous industries,” said Varun Pathak of Justice Ventures International. “In Delhi, many bureaucrats and affluent people employ children from Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal as domestic help. Only stringent laws can prevent this,” said Pathak.

Assessing Child Domestic Labour in India

Domestic child labour in India
© UNICEF/India/2007
Domestic child labour in India

By Jyoti Rao

Child domestic labour (CDL) is culturally accepted and widely prevalent in India. The classification of CDL applies to children who are engaged to perform domestic tasks in the home of a third party or employer and not their family.

As defined in the International Labour Organization (ILO) Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (No. 182), 1999, where child domestic labour is exploitative and includes trafficking, slavery, or practices similar to slavery, or work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is hazardous and likely to harm the health, safety, or morals of the child, it constitutes a worst form of child labour.

Despite legislation, child labour continues to flourish in both rural and urban India.  On October 16, 2006 two important notifications to the existing Child Labour Prohibition (And Regulation) Act 1986 came into effect. The notifications ban the employment of children below the age of 14 as domestic servants and in the hospitality trade such as in roadside dhabas, restaurants, hotels, motels and spas.

Two decades after a nationwide ban on child labour in hazardous industries was introduced, over 12 million Indian children, aged between 5 and 14, continue to work in dangerous occupations like construction, and the manufacture of beedis (an indigenous cigarette in which tobacco is rolled in a tendu leaf), bangles and fireworks.

Based on the 2001 census, 252,000 children are engaged in beedi manufacturing and 208,833 in the construction sector. An estimated 185,595 children are employed as domestic help and in dhabas (small roadside eateries); 49,893 children work in auto-repair workshops.

While child rights activists in India say the notifications are an important step in the battle to stop child labour, the major concern is that the government is still not doing enough to provide alternative options for families that depend on income from their children.

Besides, the ban does not address the reasons that compel children to work: poverty, family debts, marginalization, and migration of their parents.

NGOs are demanding that the ban be extended to include all children below the age of 18.  It is estimated that 74 percent of child domestic workers in India are between the ages of 12 and 16.

Children working in bangle factory
© UNICEF/India/2007
Children working in bangle factory

There is also a need to change the mindsets of people who traditionally employ young children, typically the middle-class and the affluent. The widely prevalent notion that it is actually benevolent to employ children in households and thereby provide them shelter, food and clothing.

The long-term harm done to them in terms of denying them opportunities to go to school and develop their own capabilities and eventually contribute as citizens is generally overlooked.

In actual fact, a majority of domestic working children work long hours for low wages and are exploited and abused physically and mentally.

According to a recent Ministry of Labour press release (09.05.07), 2,229 violations of the recent notification banning employment of children under 14 as domestic help and in hospitality sector were detected. 38,818 inspections were carried out by some State Governments from whom reports were received and 211 prosecutions were filed.

The Government of India has been implementing a successful programme, the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) since 1988 where in 7,328 special schools were opened for the children withdrawn from work.

The National Child Labour Project scheme is implemented in 250 districts of 20 states of the country. Under the Scheme, children withdrawn from work are provided education, nutrition, vocational training, stipend and health care etc. and are finally mainstreamed to regular education system.

The highest number of 1,651 schools opened so far under the National Child Labour Project Scheme State-wise is in Orissa followed by 1,347 in Uttar Pradesh and 1,126 in Andhra Pradesh. The project is targeted at children working in the unorganized sector such as construction sites, carpet weaving, brick-making and other labour-intensive industries.

Click here to read UNICEF’s position on Child Domestic Labour.

Diamond industry[edit]

In the year 1999, the International Labour Organisation co-published a report with Universal Alliance of Diamond Workers, a trade union.[57] The ILO report claimed that child labour is prevalent in the Indian diamond industry. International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) in a separate 1997 press release observed that child labour continued to flourish in India’s diamond industry.[58] Not everyone agreed with these claims. The South Gujarat Diamond Workers Association, another trade union, acknowledged child labour is present but it is not systematic, is less than 1% and against local industry norms. Local diamond industry businessmen too downplayed these charges.[59]

According to the 1999 ILO paper,[57] India annually cuts and polishes 70 per cent of the world’s diamonds by weight, or 40 per cent by value. Additionally, India contributes 95 percent of the emeralds, 85 percent of the rubies, and 65 percent of the sapphires worldwide. India processes these diamonds and gems using traditional labour-intensive methods. About 1.5 million people are employed in the diamond industry, mostly in the unorganized sector. The industry is fragmented into small units, each employing a few workers. The industry has not scaled up, organised, and big operators absent. The ILO paper claims that this is to avoid the complex labour laws of India. The export order is split, work is subcontracted through many middlemen, and most workers do not know the name of enterprise with the export order. In this environment, claims the ILO report, exact number of child labourers in India’s diamond and gem industry is unknown; they estimate that child labourers in 1997 were between 10,00 to 20,00 out of 1.5 million total workers (about 1 in 100). The ILO report claims the causes for child labour include parents who send their children to work because they see education as expensive, education quality offering no real value, while artisan work in diamond and gem industry to be more remunerative as the child grows up.[57]

A more recent study from 2005, conducted at 663 manufacturing units at 21 different locations in India’s diamond and gem industry, claims incidence rates of child labour have dropped to 0.31%.[60][61][62]

Fireworks manufacture[edit]

The town of Sivakasi in South India has been reported to employ child labour in the production of fireworks.[63] In 2011, Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu was home to over 9,500 firecracker factories and produced almost 100 percent of total fireworks output in India.[64] The fireworks industry employed about 150,000 people at an average of 15 employees per factory. Most of these were in unorganised sector, with a few registered and organised companies.

In 1989, Shubh Bhardwaj reported[65] that child labour is present in India’s fireworks industry, and safety practices poor. Child labour is common in small shed operation in the unorganized sector. Only 4 companies scaled up and were in the organised sector with over 250 employees; the larger companies did not employ children and had superior safety practices and resources. The child labour in small, unorganised sector operations suffered long working hours, low wages, unsafe conditions and tiring schedules.

A more recent 2002 report by International Labour Organisation claims[66] that child labour is significant in Tamil Nadu’s fireworks, matches or incense sticks industries. However, these children do not work in the formal economy and corporate establishments that produce for export. The child labourers in manufacturing typically toil in supply chains producing for the domestic market of fireworks, matches or incense sticks. The ILO report claims that as the demand for these products has grown, the formal economy and corporate establishments have not expanded to meet the demand, rather home-based production operations have mushroomed. This has increased the potential of child labour. Such hidden operations make research and effective action difficult, suggests ILO.

Silk manufacture[edit]

A 2003 Human Rights Watch report claims children as young as five years old are employed and work for up to 12 hours a day and six to seven days a week in silk industry.[67]These children, claims, are bonded labour; even though the government of India denies existence of bonded child labour, these silk industry child are easy to find in Karnataka, andTamil Nadu, claims Children are forced to dip their hands in scalding water to palpate the cocoons and are often paid less than Rs 10 per day.[68]

In 2010, a German news investigative report claimed that in states like Karnataka, non-governmental organisations had found up to 10,000 children working in the 1,000 silk factories in 1998. In other places, thousands of bonded child labourers were present in 1994. But today, after UNICEF and NGOs got involved, child labour figure is drastically lower, with the total estimated to be fewer than a thousand child labourers. The released children were back in school, claims the report.[69]

Carpet weaving[edit]

Siddartha Kara finds about 20% of carpets manufactured in India could involve child labour. He notes, “determining the extent to which the hand-made carpet supply chain from India to the U.S.A. is tainted by slavery and child labor requires an additional exercise in supply chain tracing.”[70] Kara’s study also finds variation in child labour practices between ethnic and religious groups. Kara and colleagues report highest level of child labour in Muslim community carpet operations,[71] and the presence of debt bonded child labourers in Muslim villages.[72]

Domestic labour[edit]

Official estimates for child labour working as domestic labour and in restaurants is more than 2,500,000 while NGOs estimate the figure to be around 20 million.[73] The Government of India expanded the coverage of The Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act and banned the employment of children as domestic workers and as workers in restaurants,dhabas, hotels, spas and resorts effective from 10 October 2006.

Coal mining[edit]

Despite laws enacted in 1952 prohibiting employment of people under the age of 18 in the mines primitive coal mines in Meghalaya using child labour were discovered and exposed by the international media in 2013.[56]

Mayawati spends crores on guards for memorials

Mayawati spends crores on guards for memorials
LUCKNOW The memorials and parks that she spends crores building are being studied by the Supreme Court. The reason: taxpayers are being forced to fund them.

But that hasn’t stopped Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati from stubbornly going ahead with her plans. So now, she’s shelling out another 9 crores – once again, taxpayers’ money – on creating a special force to guard the memorials. Recruitment begins on Saturday for a thousand retired policemen who will be asked to watch over the statues of Dalit icons, including her own, in nine parks across Uttar Pradesh. They won’t be overworked for long. The Chief Minister wants to eventually have a 2-lakh-strong force that is estimated to cost 67 crores. But this first battalion has to be hired within a week.

Meanwhile, there are 26,000 vacancies in the police force in her state, which has the country’s worst crime statistics, including the highest amount of sexual crimes against children.

”What is the need for protecting her statues? Will they lose height or weight? Is someone planning to disfigure them?” asked an incredulous Ambika Chaudhury, a member of the Opposition Samajwadi Party earlier this year, when the Chief Minister announced her plans for her memorial guard in the State Assembly.

The Chief Minister has made it clear in the past that her own residence – which she considers a Dalit monument in its own right – will also be patrolled by her new A-Team.

Apparently, it’s her way or the highway – now if only she’d spend some money on developing some of those, for example.

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