Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Child Labour & India

They say that the sweetest time of life is childhood. No worry, all play. True, for most of the lucky ones. But those who born into a poor home in India were not that lucky. Despite a law in place India is still home to this malaise. So an addition of couple of more industries to the existing law would make any difference? Today Indian Government decided to ban the Child Domestic Labour . Let us try to delve into this malady.
In the first place, why parents send their little ones to work in hazardous situations? I saw many young children, aged between 10 and 14 working in many a shops in Mumbai, India’s financial capital. Be it in a Hotel, a two-wheeler workshop, Zari units or works that required sheer physical effort such as building sites, mines etc. All this happens right under the nose of the authorities. By authorities, I specifically mean POLICE. So why, at the tender age, when they should be playing & studying, mingling & learning, they have to work hard and support their parents?
The first and foremost reason is financial. It is the additional income and a mouth less to feed theory that is gaining the most popularity. But how much truth does it hold? True, a minority has lost their earning member and no one else is there to take care of them or their ailing mother, younger sibling etc. They have a reason. But what about those who have to support his / her fathers alcoholism? How many of the kids had to suffer silently at their own home? 75% of the kids who work have a story to tell. That of a physical abuse, starvation, parents alcoholism etc.
Whatever the reason, however compelling it may be, no child should be allowed to work. It is the time for their development. Mentally, physically, socially. At a time when India is emerging as a force to reckon with, this should not be allowed to go on. But changing a law is not all. Strict implementation and proactive measures. The usual suspects in this game are Zari units, Hotels & bars, workshops, mines and construction works etc. These places should be checked regularly to make sure they don’t indulge in this and if found guilty should be punished severely. Only then our younger generation will be enlightened. Theirs is not a life to rot in the gutter. They are the future. Give them an opportunity.
Read this too. An article I wrote back in February


whistlingwoods said...

Shinu, while I agree that a child's childhood should not be robbed; there are several other grave concerns.

Abolishing child labor is a grand idea, but we need to think of the aftermath. I would rather have a child slog in a hotel, than indulge in anti social activities. I would rather have a child carry more weight than he can carry, than indulge in pickpocketing and other vices. If they are making a honest living, let them do so.

Most of us have never skipped a meal in our life, and do not know the pangs of hunger. We do not know what the uncertainty of the next meal tastes like. We do not know what it feels to be poor.

I really do not feel that abolishing child labor is a good idea. This will have an adverse effect on society. We need to ensure that these kids are paid their due. We need to take care that their working conditions are human. We need to give them education.

Let the caterpillar break the cocoon on its own. That will give its wings the strength to fly. Do not rob them of this opportunity...

Shinu Mathew said...

Who said that if they don't work, they turn to anti-social activities? It's not always true. Those who push these innocent kids to such crimes are the culprits. Imagine a father telling his little one to get some money in the evening or else he won't get any food, he is forced to do ANYTHING. that's where our State Machinery has to chip in. Those who are freed from the clutches of Child Labours, must be send to school and steps must be taken to make sure they don't drop out and turn to other activities.
And the Caterpillar breaking the cocoon, they wait till they are ready to fly out. No one forces it to break it at a young age and wilt under the hot sun.