I smile at your play with that little bit of a broken twig.
I am busy with my accounts, adding up figures by the hour.
Perhaps you glance at me and think, 'What a stupid game to spoil your morning with!'
Personally, I come from a well-to-do family and never had the need to work or anything because everything I ever really wanted my parents gave it to me. I never had to go out.ss as to what to do and he quit school and started working at a pawn shop. After that studying now and then and quitting school to take up jobs when he finally finished his post graduation he was 40. His view on this was - Once you start working, once you have money in your hands you earn a sense of responsibility. And when you have that on your shoulders you never can go back and study the way you used to. There is some inkling deep down to go back to work, because this is not what you do.
This really hit me like a ton of bricks. I’d never really understood why my father frowned every time I asked him if I could go and work at some place – maybe at the supermarket or the pawn shop. I thought it would be a good real world experience. Responsibility is more than what meets the eye. There’s something more to it than I originally thought.
“Good morning Anna,” he used to shout every time he sped past me on his rusty old bicycle that probably a junkyard would reject. I would smile at him and watch him cycle away with a tune on his lips and satisfaction writ on his face.
Look at me, still digesting the fact that I would be out of bed for another 12 hours or so dragging myself to school with half a mind to go back and sleep to supposedly ‘learn’ something and this kid roughly the same age as me cycles to his usual spot in a dilapidated old table in the Government Officers colony where he spends the morning stroking his coals and ironing clothes.
India's Census 2001 office defines child labor as participation of a child less than 17 years of age in any economically productive activity with or without compensation, wages or profit. Such participation could be physical or mental or both. This ‘work’ includes part-time help or unpaid work on the farm, family enterprise or in any other economic activity such as cultivation and milk production for sale or domestic consumption.
So now the question arises if a child lends a hand to his father at the farm or in his shop is it considered child ‘labour’? Legally, yes. But morally…? I mean any parent could be sued for just trying to get his son to learn the trade!
There are some loopholes in the judicial system and some procedures are sometimes overlooked but the question remains - What can I do to help? I mean according to a research conducted by CRY India at this rate it would take more than a hundred years to completely eradicate child labour in India because the rate at which child labour is decreasing is a dismal 2.2% every year. And in a hopelessly overpopulated country like India that is saying A LOT!
I mean realistically, what can I do to help save, share a post or two or maybe put a status in my facebook page saying #SayNOToChildLabour trending worldwide? We the so called intellectuals live caught up in our own selfish world in a country where 90% of the population lives in villages where sometimes there are no education facilities and we still have a problem with them not going to school! How can they even go to school if there isn’t one?
And you know what the fun part is? The same person who so magnanimously shared a 1 share = 1000 respect post condemning child labour is found the next day screaming at a kid in a roadside tea shop because he spilled coffee on his imported US Polo! There’s one reason we are called pseudo-intellectuals and it’s a darn good one too!
And let me come to the ones who are capable and very much committed to bringing about a change. One as I mentioned Child Rights for You (CRY) India among many others like Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi and his Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) but there are a few (read as MANY) loopholes here too. Let us rewind to a long forgotten incident back in 2011 when BBC after three years admitted its award winning documentary and investigative journalism report of Indian child labour use by Primark India was a fake. An apology to Primark and the Indian viewers (forced by the court) and all is forgotten! Shake hands and kiss cheeks. No problem at all!
Stuck between these two extremes – One sitting quietly thinking he can do nothing and the other who is capable of doing something good but twists it a bit just to increase TRP and rake in awards and cheques, irony dies a cruel death!
The problem of child labour is not limited just to children working in shops and firecracker factories as we usually tend to believe. It encompasses a much wider range where sometimes no one realizes that they are being exploited and employed as an indirect approach to child labour. It’s just one man’s opinion but I consider everything where a child is set on a path different from the usual academic, curricular and recreational activities till such a time when he/she is capable of choosing his/her real interests and pursue them, it is in extension child labour.
Be it dance reality shown that we are so fond of or the daily soaps which most often have one or two child actors every episode. From overbearing parents who send their children to every other class be it music, guitar, dance, cricket, badminton and a bunch of others other than the regular schooling to the regular age old stereotype of Nahi padega toh bartan dhone bech doonga threat by the parents and grandparents.
Unfortunately it doesn’t stop at that – children ‘work’ in their ‘holidays’ at the local supermarket to get some more money to spend. Sometimes mine and quarry workers take their children to work with them and they are naturally asked to do some odd jobs. Same thing for the domestic help’s child. And there is also the relatively un-highlighted problem of child prostitution and domestic child abuse.
The Child is the father of the Man, said Wordsworth in one of his poems. I wonder though if we have taken it for literally means because as I see it – the Child dies when he becomes a Man…
Pic Credits - Chirag Ks