Carpet Industry and Child Welfare in India
As is the case in many developing countries, poverty and lack of educational opportunities have created the basis for child labour in India, especially in the agriculture and handicraft sectors.
Contrary to some prevalent myths, children are not employed as weavers either because they have nimble fingers or because they are paid less than adults. Children are employed they have parents are teaching them skills which are perfected only after a considerable period of time and which are not as easily performed by children. Compensation in the carpet industry is on the 'piece rate system' and not on the basis of hours.
The government of India has taken significant steps towards the elimination of child labour. The Constitution of Indian Prohibits the employment of any child under the age of 14 years in factories, mines, or other hazardous and non-hazardous employment. India's child labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986 strictly regulates conditions in industries where children are still permitted to be employed and has established substantial penalties for violators, including fines and imprisonment. Exempted from the laws, however, are children working in the family home where specialized crafts are passed from one generation to the next.
Ultimately, it is going to take more than laws to remove children from the work force in India. The Central and State Government are making serious efforts in enforcing these laws by stepping up monitoring and investigation process. More important, however, are safety nets that ensure replacements or supplemental family income when children are removed from the work place or other employment opportunities and education.
Ultimately, the universal availability of compulsory free education for all children in India is what will make the elimination of child labour a reality.
The Council's Commitment
Total elimination of child labour in the carpet industry
The Carpet Export Promotional Council of India is an autonomous body establishment to promote the export of Indian made carpets. CEPC is sponsored by Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, but its services are funded primarily by its members. Compliance with the CEPC's Child Labour Code of Conduct, is Mandatory for all Carpet Exporters.
The Council stands in firm support of the elimination of illegal child labour in the carpet weaving sector. To reach this objective, the Council has undertaken significant self-regulating initiatives, both on its own and in cooperation with Government of India. In addition, in cooperation with international organizations, the Council participates in programmes to promote child welfare and development through education, meals and medical care.
Child Welfare and development initiatives
Council created a Child Welfare Fund by raising a part of Export Proceeds from Member Exporters and the proceeds of the fund are dedicated to the establishment of schools in carpet weaving areas, operated by non-government organizations (NGOs), the funding of mid-day meals for the students of such schools, the funding of wage replacements or stipends for the families of children removed from the labour pool, and funding for providing medi-care facilities to the weavers and their families in carpet producing belt. As of now 45 schools operated by local NGOs have already successfully completed 3 years of NFE. 11 More schools have been sanctioned and commissioned w.e.f. 1.4.06.
Excerpts from the Council's Child Labour Code of Conduct :
Compliance with this code is a mandatory conditions of membership in the Council. Only members in good standing may export carpets and only carpets woven on registered looms may be exported.
- Council member commit that no child labour prohibited by Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act of 1986 will be employed in their premises.
Council members, including associate members, may buy or sell carpets only to or from other members or associate members of the CEPC. It is the responsibility of the members to ensure that no order of manufacturing carpets is given to, nor raw material issued for, the weaving of carpets on a loom that has not been registered or has been subsequently de-registered.
To ensure compliance with this code, members expressly consent to the monitoring of their looms through random inspections by independent bodies authorized by the Council.
Members who violate the code shall be subject to cancellation of export privileges (de-registration) or other punitive action.
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