The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has been constituted by the Government of India, as a statutory body under section 3 of the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005 (No. 4 of 2006) for dealing with the protection of child rights and related matters. Under section 13(1) of the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005, certain functions have been provided to ensure the rights of children.
CARPET INDUSTRY IN INDIA : The 400 year old Indian carpet industry currently supports the livelihoods of about 2 million households, directly or indirectly. Carpet Export Promotion Council (CEPC)- the designated organization under Ministry of Textiles, Government of India has been taking concerted efforts coupled with many other simultaneous initiatives taken by the Governments (both central and state) to alleviate the status of weavers and carpet artisans by undertaking various welfare activities and help eradicate the problems of child labor from the Indian carpet industry.
CEPC has undertaken significant self-regulating initiatives, both on its own and in cooperation with the Government of India. CEPC has Formulated a Code of Conduct whereby it was mandatory for allits members to adhere to a Code of Conduct, which prohibits the use of child labour, unregistered looms and the sale or trading of such products, which are made with the use of child labour. The CEPC initiated the exercise of Registration of Looms in which the owners of the looms furnish an oath
on affidavit that they do not and will not employ child labour. To create demand for the registration of looms, the CEPC formulated a strategy whereby only the registered looms get the weaving orders through its member-exporters. As informed by CEPC, the council also initiated the exercise of random inspections of the registered looms for verifying the veracity of their legal undertakings for not employing child labour.
Legislations , Mechanisms and Programmes Prohibiting Child Labour in India
India has passed a number of laws on child labour since independence. Article 24 of the Constitution of India prohibits employment of children below the age of 14 in factories, mines, and other hazardous employment. Article 21A and Article 45 of the constitution of India promise to provide free and compulsory education to all children between the age of 6 and 14.
Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE), 2009: In 2009, India passed the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE).A subsequent section was added to the constitution of India making it a fundamental right and thus strengthening its implementation. It mandated private schools to shoulder the responsibility of providing easy and free access to children from low socio-economic background preventing child labour and promoting education.
Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016: The Government of India has initiated various measures and realization of a multipronged strategy on ground to move firmly towards a child labour free society. A landmark step in the endeavor to have a child labour free society was the enactment of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Prevention) Amendment Act, 2016 in August 2016 that provides for complete prohibition on employment of children below 14 years in all occupations and processes and prohibits employment of adolescents (14-18 years) in hazardous occupations and processes. The age of admission to employment has been linked to the age of compulsory education under Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009.
In order to facilitate compliance of the provisions of the Act, Government of India has also notified the amendment in the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Central Rules after extensive consultation with the stakeholders. The Rules for the first time provide a broad and specific framework for prevention, prohibition, rescue and rehabilitation of child and adolescent workers. To clarify on issues related with help in family and family enterprises and definition of family with respect to child, specific provisions have been incorporated in rules. Further, it also provides for safeguards of artists which have been permitted to work under the Act, in terms of hours of work
and working conditions. The rules provide specific provisions incorporating duties and responsibilities of enforcement agencies in order to ensure effective implementation and compliance of the provisions of the Act. In order to clarify the issues on schedule of hazardous occupations andprocesses, the schedule has been reviewed and the intent notification has been issued to include a comprehensive list of about 118 occupations and processes.
For fulfillment of the objective of a strong legislation, it requires equally strong tools on field to be implemented and to provide this, the Ministry of Labour and Employment has already prepared a comprehensive strategy for effective enforcement. Labour being in the concurrent list, an elaborate Action Plan was sent to all State Governments after enactment of the legislation for implementation and all the State Governments’ have been sensitized about the major shift in the legislation with the direction to spread the same to the ground level. To remove all ambiguities a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is being framed for all stakeholders, particularly to enforcing agencies. This would be supported by IT Platform “PENCIL”.
PENCIL is an IT platform which has components ensuring enforcement of the Act, mechanism for redressal of complaints, child tracking system and a monitoring mechanism. This platform integrate all the State Governments with the Central Government for effective coordination and convergence
of various measures being taken for compliance of the Act.
The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016 & the Carpet Sector:
As per the Act, Child & Adolescent Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Rules have been framed in 2017. One of the significant provisions provided under section 2 (B) 2 mandates the school principal to report to the district Committee/Authority regarding any child who remains absent in the school continuously for 30. This has been an enabling provision to identify and address the issues of child labour through various interventions including counseling to the parents, re-engaging in school,
assessing the situation if the child is need of care and support to provide shelter home facility. The prohibits employment of children below 14 years in all forms of work and regulating the work for adolescents (15-18 years) including prohibiting their employment in hazardous labour. The purpose of this amended act is to further the constitutional mandate by linking the age of child labour prohibition to the age of compulsory education under the Right to Education Act, 2009. The amendment also reflects strong commitment to achieve international goals such as the Sustainable
Development Goals to eliminate of all forms of child labour by 2015. So far carpet industry and carpet weaving is concern; it falls under the hazardous category.Therefore, children under 14 are prohibited to work and their employment is prohibited in the carpet industry. There is also an established procedure to report on any kind of child labour. Anyone having any information about a child labour, may contact the designated agencies like; Police Station, Special Juvenile Police Units, District Task Force under District Magistrate, State Labour Department, Labour Inspector , Child Line (1098) Emergency helpline for children in distress or district nodal officer. These agencies will verify the complaint, either through direct site visits or through resources identified by the District Task Force within 24 hours of the receipt of the complaint. If the complaint is found to be genuine, all agencies are to report the complaint to the police department who may begin the process for rescue.
UDISE: Unified District Information System for Education: U-DISE is a database of information about schools in India. It is the largest EMIS in the country, provides the necessary data for planning and managing school education. Besides, the U-DISE data are used extensively for planning and monitoring development interventions in the SSA and RMSA..
The database was developed at the National University for Educational Planning and Administration. It records information both school- wise and student-wise with other information including the level of dropouts and the condition of
facilities in the schools.
A new initiative is the student database (SDMIS) which with over 260 million students from Grade 1st to 12th would be the largest such systems across the World. The system will keep record of academic journey of every student studying in about 1.5 million Government and Private schools in India.
National Child Labour Project (NCLP): The Government had initiated the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme in 1988 to rehabilitate working children in 12 child labour endemic districts of the country. The Scheme seeks to adopt a sequential approach with focus on rehabilitation of children working in hazardous occupations & processes in the first instance. Under the Scheme, a survey of child labour engaged in hazardous occupations & processes has been conducted. The
identified children are to be withdrawn from these occupations & processes and then put into special schools in order to enable them to be mainstreamed into the formal schooling system. Project Societies at the district level are fully funded for opening up of special schools/rehabilitation Centre’s for the rehabilitation of child labourers. The special schools/rehabilitation centre’s provide: Non-formal/bridge education, skilled/vocational training, Mid Day Meal, stipend @ Rs.150/- per child per
month, Health care facilities through a doctor appointed for a group of 20 schools. This scheme has been strengthened recently in terms of improving its quality and extending its coverage to all the districts of the country. There are 17 districts currently covered under NCLP projects in Karnataka and 16 districts of Tamil Nadu including the districts of Ramanagara (Bangalore Rural) in Karnataka and
Krishnagiri & Salem in Tamil Nadu.
Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK): The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, under the National Health Mission launched the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK), an innovative and ambitious initiative, which envisages Child Health Screening and Early Intervention Services, a systemic approach of early identification and link to care, support and treatment. This programme subsumes the existing school health programme.
Child Health Screening and Early Intervention Services basically refer to early detection and management of a set of 30 health conditions prevalent in children less than 18 years of age. These conditions are broadly Defects at birth, Diseases in children, Deficiency conditions and Developmental delays including Disabilities – 4D’s.
The RBSK programme corresponds to the Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child Health and Adolescent Health strategy (RMNCH+A), Incheon Strategy to “Make the Right Real” for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific, and Child Survival and Development – A Call to Action summit held in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu in 2013. It aims at providing continuum of care from birth to throughout childhood period. It is astep towards ‘Health for All’ or ‘Universal Health Care’ wherein children would get free assured services under NHM. The task is gigantic but quite possible, through the systematic approach that RBSK envisages.
CHILDLINE 1098: Emergency helpline for children in distress: A phone number that spells hope for millions of children across India, CHILDLINE is India's first 24-hour, free, emergency phone service for children in need of aid and assistance. Whether the person is a concerned adult or a child, he/she can dial 1098, the tollfree number to access the childline services. Child Line does not respond to the emergency needs of children, but links them to services for their long-term care and rehabilitation.
The service, till date, has reached out to over three million children across the nation through such calls. CHILDLINE is being run under the integrated Child Protection Scheme, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India. Childline works for the protection of the rights of all children in general, but gives special focus on all children in need of care and protection, especially the more vulnerable sections, which include: street children child labourers working in the unorganised and organized sectors and many other categories of vulnerable children.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) was set up in March 2007 under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005, an Act of Parliament (December 2005). NCPCR is a statutory body under the CPCR Act, 2005 under the administrative control of the Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India. The Commission's Mandate isetoensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with
the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Child is defined as a person in the 0 to 18 years age group.The Commission visualizes a rights-based perspective flowing into National Policies and Programmes, along with nuanced responses at the State, District and Block levels, taking care of specificities and streightof each region. In order to reach every child, it seeks a deeper penetration to communities nd households and expects that the ground experiences gathered in the field are taken into consideration by all the authorities at the higher level. Thus the Commission sees an indispensable
role for the State, sound institution-building processes, respect for decentralization at the local bodies and community level and larger societal concern for children and their well-being.
THE TELEVISION REPORT & FACT FINDING EXERCISE : Despite the regulatory mechanism , one of the documentaries on Carpets from India aired by ARD- Public German TV Channel in the show PLUSMINUS dated 24 th October, 2018 mentioned that there is child labour in the carpet industry of the Agra area (State ofuttar Pradesh). The content of the documentary was initially examined by the CEPC and found that the report does not have a base. It was observed that the report can cause irreparable damage to the carpet industry and can effect in the livelihood of hundreds of thousands families engaged in carpet weaving. Therefore, CEPC requested to the Ministry of Women & Child Development and National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) requesting to examine the matter and to take necessary action. Subsequently, the matter was examined by the Commission and with the advice received from the Ministry of WCD, it was decided to carry out a fact finding
exercise under Section 13 of the CPCR Act, 2005 including an audit in the area in collaboration with UNICEF , UP State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the District Administration.
Identification of the Locations: The factories and their locations were identified through a process based on four different methods that were adopted including the list of showrooms and businesses provided by the Carpet Export Promotion Council (CEPC), Ministry of Textiles, Government of India by the District Labour Department, by the Carpet Wholesalers and information collected locally throughother formal and informal sources. Similarly, the home based carpet units were identified by the local takeholders. Keeping in view the information received; five different locations were identified through random sampling. Survey tools
A set of four questionnaires (semi structured) was designed by UNICEF in consultation with NCPCR.
Each set of questionnaires was administered to a different set of respondents on various aspects
Questionnaire 1- Families of workers/Home based carpet units: This questionnaire was
developed to capture the information about the family based enterprises and weavers. It covers the information related to their children and their education. Also it allows to examine the fingers of children to learn if those fingers are used in knotting the carpet. It may be noted that, the agile fingers of a child which is engaged in carpet weaving usually affect the part of the fingers which can be seen and felt through physical examination.
Questionnaire 2- Anganwadi Centre : Anganwadi is a village and habitation based center for early childhood care and education being implemented by the Government. It is a self targeted programme to cover all the habitations in the country. Children come to the center at the age of 3 and graduate to enter a school when they are of 6 year old. The questions were formed around the functioning and beneficiaries of the Anganwadi Centre to learn about its efficacy and reach in the locality. Children in the age of 0 to 6 years and out of school adolescent girls in the age group of 15 to 18 are covered.
Questionnaire 3- Schools : Education is a constitutional right conferred to the children in the age of 6 to 14 years in India through a special act called Right to Free & Compulsory Education Act, 2009. It provides free and compulsory education to all children in the age group. Accordingly, the act mandates the school and local authority to make sure all children receive the formal education from a regular school. The questionnaire was designed to capture the status of children in the habitation
and their access to school education and attendance. It also captures the information related to what the children are engaged with if not coming to school or reason for absenteeism. It was also taken into account the provision under section 2 (B) 2 of the Children and Adolescent Labour(Prohibition & Regulation) Rules, 2017 that mandates the school principal to report to the district Committee/Authority if the child remains absent in the school for 30 days and more.
The schools are covered that are around the habitations where family based carpet units are located using the UDISE data.
Questionnaire 4- Factory Auditing : To audit factories, the ISES 2020 tool developed by IGEP Consultwas used. The tool was customized for a thorough audit of the industries covering all the aspects including child labour, forced labour, environment, safety , energy , health , sanitation and working conditions. There was scope for meeting and discussing with workers, factory owners , stakeholders and nearby other shop owners, and local authorities. It was designed to carry factory- wise information needed for a full fledged audit under CEPC Findings and Recommendations The team from National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), UNICEF India, Carpet Export Promotion Council (CEPC), District Administration & related departments and experts held a technical meeting in Agra to decide the course of action for inspection and fact findings on prevalence of child labour in the carpet Industry in the district of Agra. Subsequently, a fact finding survey was carried out in 12 schools, 6 Anganwadi Centres, 63 families of carpet weaving families in habitations selected randomly keeping in view the presence of carpet weavers & 14 Carpet manufacturing units in Agra.
All the children in the age of 6 to 14 years in the families of workers as well as the habitations are enrolled in formal schools either in government or private schools. This was ascertained through the survey . This fact implies the effectiveness of the Right to Education Act, 2009 covering this age group of children.
For the children in the age of 15 to 18 years, formal school education or open schooling through National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) are available to them.
There is lack of formal vocational training programme for adolescent in the areas. Therefore, adolescents are learning the art of carpet weaving at home in the absence of any formal programme.
None of the child in the age of 0 to 14 years found to be working or employed in any looms of the area or in a factory.
Children of households having looms are going school and their socio economic conditions better in comparison to other families those who don’t have proper economic activities for regular income like carpet weaving. Due to regular income , it was observed by the Commission that some families are sending their children to private school.
It was also observed by the Commission that , in absence of any proper vocational training centre in the areas for the children between 15 to 18 years; their motivation level towards education is low. So, there is a need to establish proper vocational training institutions and inclusion of vocational training.
As there is no scheme imparting professional training under National Skill Qualification
Framework ; CEPC may plan to introduce a scheme for the adolescents in consonance with National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) to fill the skill gap and help in achieving overall socio-economic development of the habitations and regions.
It may be noted that, the agile fingers of a child which is engaged in carpet weaving usually affect the part of the fingers which can be seen and felt through physical examination. Therefore, during the fact finding exercise, the fingers of the children were also examined and surveyors reported of no any violation of child rights.
There are so many ways of reporting of any kind of child labour in India and provisions have been provided under different Acts .
(i) Engaging a child as labour is a cognizable offence under the Child Labour (Prohibition
& Regulation) Act, 1986 and its amended Act 2016 and Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Rules, 2017.There are several ways of its reporting. If anyone having
information about a child labour, may contact the designated agencies like; Police
Station, Special Juvenile Police Units, District Task Force under District Magistrate,
State Labour Department, Labour Inspector , PENCIL portal, Child Line (1098)
Emergency helpline for children in distress or district nodal officer. These agencies will
verify the complaint, either through direct site visits or through resources identified by
the District Task Force within 24 hours of the receipt of the complaint. If the complaint
is found to be genuine, all agencies are to report the complaint to the police
department who may begin the process for rescue.
(ii) As per Section 2 (14) (2) of the Juvenile Justice ( Care & Protection of Children)Act, 2015 , a child in need of care & protection means who is found working in contravention of the labour laws for the time being in force or is found begging or living on the street. Further, in chapter 4 of the same Act under section 31 provides procedures to be produced before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) by any police officer, any public servant, Child line service, NGO, social worker or a public spirited citizen , nurse doctor , management of a nursing homes , hospitals, maternity home etc.
(iii) Any concern citizen or public spirited person can submit complaint of any nature in
relation to the violation of the child rights to the National Commission for Protection
of Child Rights (NCPCR) through email, letter, E-balnidaan , Telephone call, POCSO E
–Box. The Commission is mandated to take cognizance of such matter under section
13 of the Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005. However, in this incidence , non of the authorities got any complaint regarding the matter
reported and telecasted in the television. But, only CEPC reported the same.
However, the ARD television team reporters have not followed the established procedures if they had truly found any child labour.
CEPC may also obtain modes of some digitized monitoring and grievance submission
mechanism to maintain their own standards.
The infrastructure of schools visited in the areas need improvement with a special focus of cleanliness in the toilets , Mid-day meal kitchens . Close monitoring of the teaching staff is needed as well as vacant positions of the staff in the school should be filled as earliest.
The mid-day meal programme is implemented properly in the schools . Children are provided uniforms also. Children shared that mid-day meal and the uniforms are the biggest incentives to attend school.
National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) should have more weaving related courses for the children and adolescents in the age group of 15 to 18 years.
The health and nutrition related interventions need to be strengthened in the areas for
children and adolescents. Collaborative activities and interventions at anganwadi centres
may be encouraged with the involvement of local communities and civil society
There is an urgent need for the skilling programmes, especially to skill people for the jobs related to weaving . This will help to increase the income of the families’ production and subsequently enables families to provide better nutrition, education and living conditions.
There is a need of organizing skill development in the area. Training programmes under
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikash Yojana (PMKVY) may be made available in the area. The
trades must include the carpet weaving.
The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) under the Ministry of Skill Development and the Sector Skill Councils especially the Mining Sector Skill Council of India should conduct their activities in the areas and pockets with a high concentration of home based carpet weaving.
The carpet industry in Agra district has two types of carpet production i.e. factory based and home based. The factories are producing woven carpets as well as hand tufted carpets and hand knotted.
The share of Agra in carpet production is only 2 % . For other cities in India, the share of Jaipur is 8 % , Bhadohi is 30 %, Mirzapur is 20 %, Panipat is 30 %, Srinagar is 3 % and rest of India is 7 % (data source- Carpet Export Promotion Council, Ministry of Textiles ).
Though the share of Agra in carpet production is on 2 % , the city is being targeted by the German TV for it is famous in the world for hosting the famous monument – Tajmahal.
There are show rooms of the proprietors as well as factories in the urban areas of Agra. However, the showrooms also keep hand knotted carpets being made by the women on their looms at their home. They are paid as per square feet rate and based on the kind of design of the carpet.
Since looms are located at homes, it is quite usual for the children to see the work and sit with their parents to learn the skill of knotting out of curiosity. This may be accepted as far as learning is concerned. However, no child was found working there to subsidize the family income while missing out to school hours and play.
In 14 factories visited, it was observed that none of the factories had engaged any children as labour. The factories are mostly located in the urban areas with urban amenities. The working conditions in the factories are fairly good.
The workers in the factory are provided with basic facilities like drinking water, toilets, well lit working area as well as personal protection equipments and safety equipments wherever needed.
It clearly turned out that it is required to have a monitoring system (independent) to control the basic social and environmental standards including the implementation of provisions provided under the different laws related to children. The standard may be like the one being efficiently used under ISES 2020 standard (IGEP Certification).
All the companies are aware of the legislation related to prohibition of employment of
children in the factory.
During the inspection and interactions with the workers it became clear that there is no practice of any forced labour or any kind of exploitation of the labourers.
Regarding the chemical testing of the samples collected from the sites , it was sent to a recognized laboratory “ Atharva Laboratories Pvt. Ltd”, Noida , Uttar Pradesh . The
interpretation of the tests result as reported by Carpet Export Promotion Council (CEPC) are given as under:- Hand knotted carpets from India are according to the survey free of banned chemicals.
The azo-dyes which are seen as health hazardous are not banned for these carpets. The
reason is that they are harmful only if the bare human skin is in contact with the dyed
material for a long time. This is – according to analyses of experts – not the case with
– Harmful chemicals in connection with carpets have been discovered in substances against mots. Here organizations like the Carpet Export Promotion Council (CEPC) or IGEP/Rugmark and others inform the manufacturers about the possible dangers and rovide information about non health hazardous substitutes.
– In addition, an often mentioned hazardous chemical is formaldehyde. It is till today used in adhesives. Insofar it is possible that the backside of some carpets is treated with such adhesives or other glueing materials. This can also be the case with machine made carpets which are used for full floor covering and from wall to wall. Since the effects of
formaldehyde have been known since long in India, all manufacturers are regularly
informed not to use any substance which contains formaldehyde. In addition, carpets
which could come into contact with this chemical are analyzed in laboratory tests by
companies specialized in social and environmental auditing and certification.