The Minister observed that India is one of the youngest countries and to reap the benefits of this exceptional demographic dividend, it is necessary to ensure the linkages between education and vocational training. He said that Government is taking a three pronged strategy for eradication of Child Labour.
The Minister informed that The Child Labour (Prohibition and Rehabilitation) Amendment Bill, 2012, before the Parliament, interalia include, for the first time ever, total prohibition of employment of children below 14 years of age as well as prohibition for aged between 14-18 of employment in hazardous occupations and processes. The amendment also seeks to link the age of prohibition to age under Right To Education Act, 2009.
Government is also implementing National Child Labour Project (NCLP) since 1989 in 21 states which focuses on rescue, mainstreaming through Special Training Centre and rehabilitation of children. Convergence with the schemes of Government for education of children and economic upliftment of poor families is another focus area for the Ministry.
The Minister expressed satisfaction over the fact that with concerted efforts of Government, the number of working children in Census 2011 had come down to 43 lakh as compared to 125 lakh in Census 2001.
Shri Satyarthi in his address said that the recognition accorded to him is an honour for all those enumerable faceless and identity-less children who were forgotten till date. He said that his honour in fact is recognition to all known and unknown persons and their efforts for the betterment of the society. He said that as the highest national policy making body for child labour, the Ministry of Labour & Employment is a partner in his recognition. Shri Satyarthi recalled his meeting with the Hon’ble President of India and stated that he has donated his prize money and dedicated his award to the nation for the cause of the deprived children. He recognized efforts of the Ministry to pursue the cause of vulnerable children. He said that the times of confrontation are now giving way to concerted and collaborative efforts by all the stakeholders. He echoed the vision of the Prime Minister of India and called for making efforts to reap the benefits of exceptional demographic dividend available to us.