Jugnu, aged between 7-10 years, son of a poor labourer working near my house, depicts the typical life of many unfortunate children in India. He carries bricks on his head, serves tea and faces the wrath and abuses of his employers. This situation is unfortunately the plight of many children in India. Every child born in a poor family is looked upon as a bread earner for the family to make ends meet. No sooner than they learn to stand on their feet, they are made to work in difficult and hazardous situations. It not only takes their childhood away from them, but also hampers their overall growth and development. They are not even sent to schools for basic primary education. In my opinion, any child not being given the right to education is a child labourer.
There are as much as about 20 million children working in India. More than half of them are illegally employed as servants in factories, homes, workshops, hotels, and offices. Many of the children are subjected to physical violence, abuse, harassment, starvation, torture, rape and forced prostitution. Children, in form of cheap labour, are exploited by people at large. Unfortunately, these children have little legal recourse. They are neglected by their families and the society at large. When such children are unable to find an employment, they are forced to beg, steal and perform odd tricks on the streets.
The concept and importance of education among the poorer sections of India is quite under rated. Despite the government’s efforts to provide education to everybody, many children are not sent to school. The government has opened many schools wherein children are not only given education at an unsubstantial amount, but they are also given free uniforms, books and meals. Yet, many are not sent to school. Education can not only help in their overall development, but can also help them to rise above poverty. It can enable them to find better jobs and become financially independent. Formal education will also teach them etiquettes, which will be beneficial for them in the long run and prepare them for the society. All children, irrespective of the section of society they belong to, must attend formal full time day schools.
We must not leave everything to the government, even we can do a lot to improve the condition of such children and put an end to child labour. We must make sure that we don’t employ any child servants. We can hold evening schools and teach the poor kids living in our vicinity. People of the colony can volunteer in turns to teach the kids. The various NGO’s working in the city can also provide suitable help. Such a thing started in one state can serve as an example to other states. In place of our children over spending on our games, we can provide some kind of monetary help to these needy children. We can also make regular donations to various organizations which lend support to such children. There is no justification for child labour and we must make conscious efforts to curb it. Like every drop fills the ocean, every sincere effort will also count towards achieving the noble cause.
Childhood is a time when children are meant to enjoy their lives without any concerns and worries. It is the time when they give us chocolate smeared smiles. It is also the time when they need love and affection the most. Hence, for children whose basic rights, dignity and their childhood days are taken away from them, concrete steps must be taken to make the world a better place. Child labour is an epidemic which needs to be eradicated from our country.
[Image source: http://www.instablogsimages.com/images/2007/08/03/child-labour_8.jpg]