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Report No. 165

3.6.5. Four sets of basic rights.-

The Convention draws attention to four sets of civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights of every child. These are:

The right to survival:

Which includes the right to life, the highest attainable standard of health, nutrition, and adequate standards of living. It also includes the right a name and a nationality.

The right to protection:

Which includes freedom from all forms of exploitation, abuse, inhuman or degrading treatment, and negligence including the right to special protection in situations of emergency and armed conflicts.

The Right to development:

Which includes the right to education, support for early childhood development and care, social security, and the right to leisure, recreation and cultural activities.

The Right to participation:

Which includes respect for the views of the child, freedom of expression, access to appropriate information, and freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

3.6.6. The Convention provides the legal basis for initiating action to ensure the rights of children in society.

3.6.7. The Convention indeed reiterates and elaborates what is already contained in the Constitution of India. Article 39 of the Directive Principles of State Policy quoted above is in parimateria with the said Convention.

3.7.8. Article 28 of the Convention states:

"State Parties recognize the right or the child to education, and with a view to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular, make primary education compulsory and free to all."

3.7.9. Recognising the need to make available free and universal primary education is set out in Article 45 of the Constitution of India.

3.7.10. Article 32 of the said UN Convention provided as follows:

"State Parties recognise the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.

2. State Parties shall take legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to ensure the implementation of this article. To this end, and having regard to the relevant provisions of other international instruments, State Parties shall in particular:

(a) provide for a minimum age or minimum ages for admissions to employment;

(b) provide for appropriate regulation of the hours and conditions of employment; and

(c) provide for appropriate penalties or other sanctions to ensure the effective enforcement of this article."

The important words in Article 32 are that the child is to be protected from performing any work that will "interfere with the child's education".

3.7.11. Article 46 of the Constitution of India deals with the promotion of education and economic interest of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections; and Article 41 with the right to work and education, etc. Article 24 as originally proposed by Dr. K.M. Munshi prohibited child labour "in all form" but it was recast and reformulated, and reads "no child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine of engaged in any hazardous employment".

3.8. The National Policy for Children in 1974 affirmed the Constitutional provisions and declared that "it shall be the policy of the State to provide adequate services to children, both before and after birth and through the period of growth, to ensure theirfull physical, mental and social development. The State shall progressively increase the scope of such services so that, within a reasonable time, all children in the country enjoy optimum conditions for their growth".

3.8.1. Government of India by ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child on December 11, 1992, once again re-affirmed its commitment to children. This obligates the Government to:

- review national and state legislation and bring it in line with the provisions of the Convention;

- develop appropriate monitoring procedures to assess progress in implementing the Convention;

- involve all relevant government Ministries and departments, international agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the legal profession in the implementation and reporting process;

- publicize the Convention and seek public inputs for reporting; and ensure that reporting is frank and transparent.

3.8.2. By endorsing the 27 survival and development goals for the year 2000 laid down by the World Summit for Children, Government of India has firmly reaffirmed its commitment to advance the cause of children in India.1

Article 6 of the Convention states:-

"State Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child."

1. UNICEF-India Background Paper: The Right to be a Child, March, 1994.

3.8.3. 191 countries have signed the Convention or become State Parties to it by ratification, accession or succession, the largest number for any International Convention; the only exceptions being United States of America and Somalia.

3.8.4. A UNICEF Background Paper1 states that there are two types of development emergencies that need equal attention: (1) "loud" emergencies which include natural disasters and armed conflicts that kill and disable children, and (2) "silent" emergencies resulting from endemic poverty and widespread deprivations which lead to many more deaths than Famine, flood or war. Widespread illiteracy, malnutrition, hunger and morbidity, poor health and neglect of women's concerns are examples of such silent deprivations. Professor John Kennith Galbraith in a lecture delivered in New Delhi in November, 1992 remarked:

"once it was understood: an education is the first requirement for economic progress. That essential fact was forgotten: impressive steel mills, great hydroelectric dams, glistening airports, were too often sited amid ignorant people. I have previously made the point: in this world there is no literate population that is poor, no illiterate population that is other than poor."

A pro-children development strategy has to address both these types of emergencies.

1. Ibid.

3.8.5. It is therefore clear that we must proceed with some urgency to make these rights of the child a reality. Consequently one would venture to ask, is not all employment and the depriving of education "hazardous" to the child. We respectfully submit it is. Asking a child to work is by itself an "abuse" of their tender age and also amounts to forcing them by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age and strength within the meaning or clauses (e) and (f) of Article 39 of the Constitution, which article, we submit, must now provide and constitute the content of Article 24.

Fifty years after Independence and more than forty eight years after the Constitution, it is these two clauses of Article 39 that, must increasingly enlighten the content of Articles 21 and 24 also because these clauses are consistent with the international conventions and, above all, are in the interest of our nation and a humane view of life. Without education a child is left without it any real choices. It would, therefore appear that it is essential that legislation is introduced to ensure that good schools are established at reasonable distances so that quality education is available for all children and they are not deprived of this opportunity of development which is their inherent right.

Free and compulsory Education for Children Back

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