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Parliament passes bill to allow kids below 14 to be engaged in ‘home-based work’

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Child Labour

New Delhi, July 26 : The Parliament on Tuesday passed the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2016, seeking to prohibits employment of children below 14 years in any “profession” but allows “home-based work”, such as helping their families in forests, agricultural fields and small family-run units with the Lok Sabha giving its nod.

“This bill is historic and will go a long way in curbing the menace of child labour. For the first time we have also ensured that adolescents between the age group of 14 and 18 years cannot be employed in any hazardous work,” Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said in Lok Sabha pushing for its passage.

The Rajya Sabha had passed the bill last week.

The new amendments brought in this bill were “essential”, the minister said, adding that the bill in no way discourages children from going to school.

Among other things, the new changes in the bill include heftier penalties on violators – jail term of six months to two years, from the earlier three months to one-year term, and a fine of Rs 20,000-Rs 50,000, up from Rs 10,000-Rs 20,000.

“We have also brought in the element of cognizable offence for the first time,” Dattatreya said, countering Congress floor leader Mallikarjun Kharge, also a former Labour Minister.

The Minister asserted that under the provisions of the new law, “Employer, who violates the provisions of this Act, will be highly punished. The punishment will be stricter. It is a deterrent one. We have made it cognizable. Earlier it was non-cognizable, now it was made a cognizable offence.”

Among others Ranjit Ranjan (Congress), Virendra Kumar (BJP), N.K. Premchadran (RSP) and C. Gopalkrishnan (AIADMK) also participated in the debate.

Kalyan Banerjee of Trinamool said “Child labourers can be found in urban dwellings, around 80 per cent reside in rural areas where they are forced to work in agricultural activities such as tanning, livestock, rearing, forestry and fisheries.”

Kalikesh Singh Deo (Biju Janata Dal), however, demanded that the bill be referred to a select committee of the House for wider consultation.

Kharge maintained that the 2012 bill brought in by the UPA regime was good enough and the new amendments would not serve any purpose.

The charge was, however, strongly contested by Dattatreya.

Replying to questions raised by Trinamool Congress member Kalyan Banerjee and Biju Janata Dal member Kalikesh Singh Deo, the Minister said the government has carefully defined “family” in relation to a child, that would include a child’s “mother, father, brother, sister and father’s sister and brother and mother’s sister and brother”.

Singh Deo, the MP from Bolangir in Odisha, had during the debate argued that some “uncles and Mamaji” can misuse this definition.

On this Dattatreya said, “In India often children after the unfortunate death of their parents are looked after by their close relatives and are dependent on them”.

The new law would also apply to those who work “as artists” in an audio-visual entertainment industry, including advertisement, films, television serials or any such other entertainment or sports activities except the circus, he said.

The safety measures have to be maintained, he said adding that “no such work shall effect the school education of the child”.

Kharge complained against a clause which says the central government may at times “specify the nature of the non-hazardous work to which an adolescent may be permitted to work”.

Among other features of the new bill, Dattatreya said it has been “linked to the Right to Education Act of 2009” so that every child should go to the schools.

Later the House passed the bill by voice vote after the amendments moved by several opposition members were either withdrawn or negated.

India

Farmers Call Bharat Bandh On December 8

Thousands of farmers continue protests at the national capital’s border points on Friday amid heavy police deployment.

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Farmers on Protest

Hardening their position ahead of the fifth round of talks with the government, agitating farmers on Friday announced a ”Bharat Bandh” on December 8 and said they would occupy toll plazas on that day.

Addressing a press conference, farmer leader Gurnam Singh Chadoni said if the Centre does not accept their demands during Saturday’s talks, they will intensify their agitation against the new farm laws.

“In our meeting today, we have decided to give a ‘Bharat Bandh’ call on December 8 during which we will also occupy all toll plazas,” said Harvinder Singh Lakhwal, another farmer leader.

“We have planned to block all roads leading to Delhi in the coming days if new farm laws are not scrapped,” he also said.

Delhi’s border points remained choked as thousands of farmers from Haryana, Punjab, and other states held demonstrations for the ninth consecutive day, after talks with the government failed to yield any resolution on Thursday.

The farmer community has expressed apprehension that the new laws are “anti-farmer”, and would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporations.

However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.

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Kangana Ranaut reacts to legal notices against her

She had retweeted the post with pictures of two elderly women, including Bilkis Bano, and wrote that the “same Dadi” who featured in Time Magazine was “available in 100 rupees”.

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Kangana Ranaut

Mumbai: Actress Kangana Ranaut on Friday reacted to legal notices piling up against her.

“Film mafia filed many cases on me, last night Javed Akhtar filed one more, Maharashtra government filing one case every hour now congress in Punjab is also joined the gang…. Lagta hai mujhe mahan banake he dum lenge (I think they will take a break only after making me great.) Thank you,” Kangana Ranaut tweeted from her verified account on Friday reacting to a news piece talking about the legal notice.

Earlier on Friday, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee sent a legal notice to Kangana, seeking an “unconditional apology” for her “derogatory” tweets against farmers and activists involved in the farmers protest against the Centre’s three Farm Laws, the committee’s president.

“We have sent a legal notice to Kangana Ranaut for her derogatory tweet calling the aged mother of a farmer as a woman available for Rs 100. Her tweets portray farmers protest as anti-national. We demand an unconditional apology from her for her insensitive remarks on farmers protest,” Manjinder Singh Sirsa, President of DSGMC tweeted.

The notice comes in the wake of a tweet from the actress alleging that the ‘Shaheen Bagh dadi’ also joined the farmers’ agitation over the new agri laws at various border points of the National Capital Region.

She had retweeted the post with pictures of two elderly women, including Bilkis Bano, and wrote that the “same Dadi” who featured in Time Magazine was “available in 100 rupees”.

On Thursday a petition had been filed in Bombay High Court against Kangana. The petitioner seeks the suspension of the verified Twitter account of the actress for allegedly spreading hatred and disharmony.

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India

Dalai Lama congratulates Maha teacher who won global prize

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Dalai Lama

Dharamsala, Dec 4 : Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, on Friday congratulated Ranjitsinh Disale, a primary school teacher in Maharashtra, on winning this year’s Global Teacher Prize, saying educating the young children, especially the poor, is perhaps the best way to help them as individuals.

“I would like to congratulate you,” His Holiness wrote, “on being named the world’s most exceptional teacher and to express my admiration for your generosity in sharing half the prize money with runners-up in the competition”.

“Educating young children, especially from poor and needy backgrounds is perhaps the best way to help them as individuals, and actively contributes to creating a better world.

“Your work to ensure that disadvantaged girls go to school, as well as your efforts to prepare study materials for them in their own language, the online science lessons you offer pupils in 83 countries and your project building connections between young people in conflict zones are all vivid examples of compassion in action.

“When you say, ‘Together we can make a difference — we can make this world a better place’, you are absolutely right. I am sure your exemplary service will encourage other brothers and sisters to follow in your footsteps.”

The spiritual leader ended his letter with an offering of prayers and good wishes.

The 31-year-old Ranjitsingh Disale declared that he will split half of the prize money of $1 million with his top 10 fellow finalists.

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