Highlighting the fact that it is “impossible” to regulate family enterprises, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Monday termed the Union Cabinet‘s approval to legalise child labour in such enterprises as a “retrograde” step, saying that it will legalise the exploitation of the labour of children below the age of 14.

In a statement, the party’s Polit Bureau said to suggest that “poverty and the social fabric of India” justify the use of child labour is to “punish children for their poverty.”

Flaying the Narendra Modi government’s economic reforms that promote ‘outsourcing’, the CPI(M) said many developed industries farm out work to contractors, who further farm out work to families who work round the clock at exploitative rates. “This is in addition to trades such as bidi-making, agarbattis, carpet weaving etc., where children are forced to work,” it added.

It said in the wake of the “severe cuts” in the budgetary allocations for children’s development schemes, the proposed amendment “exposes the callous” approach of this government to child rights.