As I saw the pictures of a child feasting on manure, I shed tears. Imagining the plight of that child, I set my mind astray and began to think of the extent to which a person might go to feed his starving self. But can we blame him? Are we in a position to point fingers at others when the fault lies within ourselves? The future and the well being of the children of the “lesser gods” lie in our hands in more ways than we could ever think of.
We conveniently pass around the onus and responsibility of this problem by characterizing its nature as economic, social or political. However at the end of the day, it is an amalgamation of these sorts which a child has to face. As cases on child labour, on children being employed as domestic help and being victimized to sexual exploitation just go on to adding to the statistics, all we can do is count. India’s glorious past has the taint of condemnation of being the nation to employ the largest number of child labourers, and this is obviously something that is not much of a surprise. With the case of GAP, indirectly employing children to manufacture their merchandise that is quietly being swept under the carpet, the plight of these children remain unchanged.Working for more than 14 hours a day, their childhood is spent amidst factory walls and deplorable work conditions, just to bring home an extra penny to feed their families. These unfortunately, are the fortunate ones who don’t have to scavenge through dumpsters and heaps of garbage to prevent starvation and imminent death. The state of affairs doesn’t get any better in cities. In a survey conducted by Child Relief and You(CRY), every five in seven households employ children below the age of 14 as domestic help to sweep floors, scrub utensils and clean toilets . Its a shame that despite being educated and capable enough to prevent this crime, we support it and hypocritically shun it in public. This is just one of the many problems these children of the age of your younger brother has to face.
With epidemics sweeping villages and rural sections of India, it is these children with the weakest immunity and food availability, who fall prey to such diseases. The reasons for this are immense, with malnutrition and poor medical facilities to name a few. Governments may go on to seal the nuclear deal, yet hardly make any definitive changes for the dying youth in their nation. Cases of body trafficking seem to surface and hit news channels every now and then. However, it is eventually a child who has to sell himself to provide for his people back home. These facts and figures surely won’t come as a shock to anyone. However, what we must realize now is that if we have had the fortune of a wonderful childhood, then so do they. We must stop hiring children for domestic help; fund a child’s uniform or his books. We need to implement practical solutions to these problems and ensure their complete eradication. Let’s make these children destined of a childhood as deserving as ours.
Amanjit Singh Khanna