These seem to be rather bad days for doctors in India. As if their role in kidney racket is not enough, now come reports that they are hand in glove with heartless employers who exploit children.
Officials of the Labour department in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh charge it is the doctors who indiscriminately hand out age qualification certificates to under-aged workers and thus enable the employers to escape the long arm of the law.
A senior official regretted, "Every time we rescue a child from the clutches of 'child-labour,' the enterprising employer manages to escape punitive action by conveniently producing a false age-certificate from physicians."
In India only those above 14 years of age can work anywhere, but this law is honoured more in breach than in observance because of the widespread poverty.
Frequently Labour department officials claim to crack down on firms employing under-aged workers and release children, but they are all known to be an eyewash or officials simply go through the motions of upholding the law.
They have no answer to the question how could they really eradicate child labour when poverty is so crushing. Even small monies children bring back home from sweatshops are welcome.
Still that doctors seem to issue false age certificates, for a consideration of course, is a fact of life. It is this part of the problem the government in Andhra Pradesh vows to tackle in the coming months.
"Even an untrained-eye can conclude that physically the kid is not above 14 years but on paper he does. Physicians do not hesitate to certify an under-aged child fit to work even in hazardous conditions. We are coming out with a fool-proof plan against this," officials said.
"The idea is to make it mandatory for employers to get age and medical certificates only from Government and Employees State Insurance hospital doctors. We are also approaching the Indian Medical Association to request them to take action against doctors who give away false-certificates."