Question – Rampura, a remote district inhabited by a tribal population, is marked by extreme backwardness and abject poverty. Agriculture is the mainstay of the local population, though it is subsistence due to the very small landholdings. There is insignificant industrial or mining activity. Even the targeted welfare programs have inadequately benefited the tribal population. In this restrictive scenario, the youth has begun to migrate to other states to supplement the family income. Plight of minor girls is that their parents are persuaded by labour contractors to send them to work in the BT Cotton farms of a nearby state. The soft fingers of the minor girls are well suited for plucking the cotton. The inadequate living and working conditions in these farms have caused serious health issues for the minor girls. NGOs in the districts of domicile and the cotton farms appear to be compromised and have not effectively espoused the twin issues of child labour and development of the area. You are appointed as the District Collector of Rampura. Identify the ethical issues involved. Which specific steps will you initiate to ameliorate the conditions of minor girls of your district and to improve the overall economic scenario in the district.

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Question – Rampura, a remote district inhabited by a tribal population, is marked by extreme backwardness and abject poverty. Agriculture is the mainstay of the local population, though it is subsistence due to the very small landholdings. There is insignificant industrial or mining activity. Even the targeted welfare programs have inadequately benefited the tribal population. In this restrictive scenario, the youth has begun to migrate to other states to supplement the family income. Plight of minor girls is that their parents are persuaded by labour contractors to send them to work in the BT Cotton farms of a nearby state. The soft fingers of the minor girls are well suited for plucking the cotton. The inadequate living and working conditions in these farms have caused serious health issues for the minor girls. NGOs in the districts of domicile and the cotton farms appear to be compromised and have not effectively espoused the twin issues of child labour and development of the area. You are appointed as the District Collector of Rampura. Identify the ethical issues involved. Which specific steps will you initiate to ameliorate the conditions of minor girls of your district and to improve the overall economic scenario in the district? – 4 July 2021

Answer – 

Ethical issues related to the subject:

  • It is a moral dilemma, in which minor girls struggle with two basic needs – education and good health vs. their socio-economic rights to survive and the livelihood of their families.
  • Also, the case study highlights the issue of working of working girls in BT-Cotton farm which is a direct violation of the Child Labor (Prevention) Act, 2016 and the Right to Education Act, 2009.Under this, the parents of the minor girls and the owner of the BT-Cotton farm can be punished. But this step will be called blind follow of law by ignoring the circumstances in which the crimes like getting minor girls to work.
  • It also highlights the case of the lack of development in the remotest corners of the country and the government’s mistakes in providing welfare schemes.

Steps to improve the condition of minor girls:

  • Apart from violations of Child Labor Law and Right to Education Act, working in BT-cotton farm is also harmful to health as micro-cotton fibers also enter their body in the process of breathing, which increases the risk of respiratory diseases.
  1. Therefore, to prevent minor girls from working in BT-Cotton Farm, there is a need for direct monitoring of the District Collector.
  2. Available funds should be allocated to provide nutrition and education to children.
  • Apart from this there is a need to promote the participation of local communities and civil society by involving them,Lack of manpower should be avoided in welfare initiatives.

Necessary steps to improve the overall economic scenario of the district:

  • The concerned government, states and the Center should seriously consider their immediate support.There is a need to create employment opportunities in this area to solve the problem of migration of youth. For example, youth should be provided with skills with proper training to work in BT cotton fields. This will enable people to live their livelihood without getting involved in crime like child labor.
  • Local people can be prepared to collect micro forest produce with an assured MSP.

Various welfare schemes, the Panchayati Raj Act, 1992 and the provision of Panchayats (Extension of Scheduled Areas), 1996 Act should be followed.

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