The society we live in is plagued by a plethora of problems. In the mornings, when we seat ourselves comfortably in our sofas and open the newspaper, we read about various examples of such shortcomings. News about murder, poverty, women’s safety and drug addiction have become as common as a cup of tea. After an inaudible “tsk tsk” escape from our mouths, we put the newspaper down and carry on with our daily chores. But there remains a major problem existing in our society that invariably escapes the limelight and is taken for granted – child labour.
It is really sad to see that the people we call ‘the future of our nation’ are the same ones who clean our homes and wash our dishes. We look at them, not as people with blood flowing through their veins, but as robots expected to serve us mechanically. The most tragic part is that people are not even aware of the crime they are consistently committing. It is ironical that while we sit in front of the television in our homes and curse a murder suspect, we ask the small ten-year old boy standing beside the door to make us tea in the same breath.
The problem is not only limited to our homes. Order food at any roadside dhaba, and you unfailingly see a small boy carrying the food and cleaning the table. How do we expect our younger generation to become future leaders and work towards the improvement of our nation, when we are constantly pushing them back by making them do menial labour?
There is a weak attempt only once every year to curb this evil, i.e. during Diwali. Suddenly, during this time, people wake up from their deep slumber and chant slogans against the purchase of firecrackers. The same people go back into hibernation the next day and marvel at the elaborate fireworks used at weddings and functions. They join ‘stop child labour’ communities on the internet while giving money to their children for buying phuljhadis and anars. How can we even hope to be a part of the solution when we are actively promoting the problem?
Child labour can be curbed easily and efficiently, if all of us are willing to do so. Poverty and illiteracy are the main causes of child labour. We need to educate children compulsorily and make them aware of how they are being exploited. We must actively support and promote institutions like CRY, who tirelessly work for the betterment of impoverished children. We must strictly enforce the law banning children under the age of fourteen from any labour. Harsh punishments must be given to offenders violating the law. The print media and the internet should be used as a forum to spread awareness about the ill effects of this evil.
Everyone wants to see a better India in the future. Everyone wants to see a society free of crime and exploitation. Everyone dreams of seeing their motherland as a powerful, developed nation. A large step in realizing these dreams will be taken, if we can eradicate the perennial problem of child labour from our society.