Maharashtra cracks down on TV shows featuring children (Lead)

December 15th, 2008 - 11:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Dec 15 (IANS) Popular television shows featuring children, including the serials “Balika Vadhu” and “Chhote Miyan”, are in trouble.The Maharashtra government has issued notice to the producers of such serials under the Child Labour Act, demanding to know the child artistes’ work hours and conditions. But some prominent directors feel there is “no harm” in children working so long as it does not affect them adversely.

“The producers have been issued the notice under the Child Labour Act, 1996, asking them to explain if and why the children in their shows work for more than a stipulated time of six hours as per the law,” Labour Minister Nawab Malik told mediapersons.

“We will take action against those producers who are violating the laws. We have given them seven days to reply to the notice,” Malik said.

He said it is “not just the employers, but also the parents” who are denying the children enough time for studies. “We will also be sending notices to parents soon,” Malik added.

Notices have already been sent to producers of various shows featuring children, including popular serials “Balika Vadhu”, “Uttaran” and “Chhote Miyan”.

The ones that are under the scanner include “Jai Shri Krishna”, “Chhota Packet Bada Dhamaka” and “Boogie Woogie”.

Earlier, in September the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had recommended that children below 16 years of age be barred from participating in reality TV shows. But it hasn’t been implemented yet.

Reacting to the notice, Bollywood director Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra said children can work as long as it does not affect them adversely.

“There is no harm in children working in televisions and films as long as it is not harmful to them,” said Mehra of “Rang De Basanti” fame.

“I think they should be allowed to work if it does not hamper their studies or any other regular activities, such as their playing time,” he added.

He said the shooting schedule should be held during their holidays so that there is minimum loss to their studies.

“Children should not be forced to do anything. They should be left to work according to their own will. Besides, shoots should be mostly held when it is a holiday for them so that their studies are not affected,” Mehra said.

Actor, director Sachin said: “Children work at their own will as no one forces them to do so. It is a great learning experience and there is no harm in it.”

Sachin, who worked in various films as a child actor, said: “Even I started as a child artiste and feel how much I have gained from it. Children get to showcase their talents, which helps them understand their capabilities better.”

But Sachin agreed that children should be given enough space to work. “Since they are kids, adults need to understand their needs and problems and give them a conducive atmosphere to work in.”

Meenakshi Sagar of Sagar Arts, producer of “Jai Shri Krishna”, said: “Special care is taken of the children working for our show as they are too small.”

She said they follow a strict schedule of six hours and divide the work schedule into three hours each in the morning and afternoon.

“We work for three hours in the morning and then have a break in which the children have food, play and take rest. Then we start our second schedule where we work for another three hours,” she said.

“Children working for various TV shows and films have been a practice for a long time. I wonder why suddenly these issues are being raised now,” Sagar pointed out.

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