India, the state of 100 million child labourers

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‘’ If you are playing with others who skirt around the rules then you just have to play harder and smarter to win. But it’s not just the reward, but what you will have learned along the way that will enable you to win again. It is possible to have your cake and eat it too. You can work fairly in an unfair world. An honest business model can be a successful business model. An honest work ethic can achieve far greater things than a dishonest one.’’ (Putnam, 2005).

Ethical dilemmas:

In todays world we are often facing dilemmas of ethical nature.                          Hotel chains expand and go global, opening-up businesses in third world or less developed states with different rules, laws and regulations.                            The hospitality and tourism industry is dependent on a work force from low-wage states.

Economic sector:

India is a state of extremes, full of incredible culture, unique experiences, and kind people. Famous for the Taj Mahal and the variety in spicy curries.               But India is as well the state of extremes between the rich and the poor and the extremes between wealth and poverty.

The tourism and hospitality industry is the most important economic sector in India and the sector with the highest amount of employees.                                     The sector is increasing and attract millions of investments from outside India. Unfortunately the most important sector in India has an ugly face too.

Most of the states in the world have laws to protect their children against child labour. Because of the increasing of the hospitality and tourism in India the risk at child labour is increasing as well. India is the state with the highest amount of slavery and child labour in the world.

According to Indian official statistics about 13 million children are engaged in tourism industry but unofficial estimates vary between 60-100 million. Children in India begin working at a very young age due the economic reasons to help their families. Because children in India are affected by poverty or other factors they see an opportunity to work in hotels as a cleaner/bellboy to earn money. These jobs don’t require a certain education. Most of the hotels sees opportunities and give these kinds of jobs to children because it is cheaper.

img_4198Hotel chains in India can choose to stop working in areas where child labour is common. But on the other hand: what if child labour is relatively common and there is evidence that removing income-generating opportunities will push children into deeper poverty or other forms of exploitation?

Laws and the current government:  

indian_national_flagThe South Asian state has always stood for: constitutional, statutory and development to eliminate child labour in India. Child Labour in India has a foundation and is consistent with the International Conference resolution of 1979.

The policy of the present government of India is to ban child labour with the help of the 1986 Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act.                           In this act stated that: children under fourteen years of age could not be employed in hazardous occupations.

Furthermore the 1986 act helps to regulate the working conditions of children in other employment. The Act is in my opinion just a formal peace of paper.

The 1986 act has no rules or regulations to protect children who perform in domestic or unreported labour, what is very common in India. As mentioned before:’’ According to Indian official statistics about 13 million children are engaged in hospitality and tourism industry but unofficial estimates vary between 60-100 million.’

Unrecognized workers:

Furthermore the 1986 Child Labour Prohibition and Regulations Act does not protect girls. In the Indian culture girls are seen as unrecognized workers, due there own culture they are seen as helpers and not workers. Sadly the 1986 act would not protect the girls because they are seen as helpers and not as workers. For boys it is different, they are seen as ‘’workers’’ there work is most of the time very different because they often work long hours doing hard labour for very small wages.

Unfortunately in 2016 the Indian parliament approved several controversial amendments to the country’s child labour bill. The new bill prohibits children under the age of 14 from working – but makes an exception for “family businesses”, including extended family.

What now?

The problem of child labour of children can’t be solved easily. Although there are lots of laws accepted against child labour in India it is still not affective in my own opinion. In my opinion the Indian government and the hospitality and tourism industry failed to secure the rights of the Indian children, who are in my opinion the future of India.  All the parties formulate beautiful ideas but they did not implement them in the right spirit.

Furthermore efforts should be made together by the government of India with NGO’s and as well with employees of the hospitality and tourism industry.           All these institutions should raise their hands and work as one and take together their responsibility to stop all forms of child labour. The hospitality and the tourist industry are playing a vital role. They should not only concern about the low wages, they should concern as well for the care of these children and give these children good and fair working conditions and a safe place to work.

At least the government of India has to be realistic as well.                                         The government has made efforts to prohibit child labour by enacting child labour laws in India, but the present government of India might be a little to optimistic with there policy to eliminate child labour. It would be difficult maybe even unrealistic to achieve this goal. Arguments would be that the 1986 Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act is missing many rules to protect domestic or unreported labour and the protection of girls. Secondly in 2016 the Indian parliament accepted amendments to the state child labour bill: children may working under the age of 14 if it is an ‘’family businesses’’    Thirdly the government has to look as well at the cultural aspects.                         Till so far girls are seen as ‘’helpers’’ instead of workers.

As mentioned according to the Indian officials there are about 13 million children working in the tourism and hospitality industry, unofficially estimates vary between 60-100 million child laborers’ working in the industry.                  The act may reduced the numbers in paper but not in actual performance.

As Bound once said:‘Be the best leader you can be’ give an good example to your employees. Let them be aware that you care about them and the company proceeds. ‘‘Rather than pushing a message out . . . you can’t tell people how good you are; you have to show them.’’ (Bound, 2007)

What do YOU think, should hotel chains stop working in areas where child labour is common? But on the other hand: what if child labour is relatively common and there is evidence that removing income-generating opportunities will push children into deeper poverty or other forms of exploitation?

Share your thought and ideas about child labour in tourism and hospitality industry and leave comments behind!

If this article has cleared your mind and you do not want to have your holidays in a place where might be child labour: sign the petition against child labour!

http://www.stopchildlabour.eu/sign-the-petition/

In order to let your voice be heard and encourage you to engage in conversation below.

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