In a little, dark room, 8-year old Neela is washing the dishes. Her empty stomach groans as she scrubs one plate after another. She cries silently, for her sobs must not be heard. Like the candle in the room her childhood flickers eerily. She is ready to welcome the darkness…
60 years afterIndependence, India stands poised as the world’s largest democracy, an economic giant and a potential superpower. Yet the very lights of its future are dim. More than half a century after we became a nation, we have still not been able to create a secure haven for our children. What does the word ‘childhood’ mean?
To a rich kid in a posh suburb in Delhi, it means a great time with doting parents, caring teachers and wonderful friends. But the twelve year old child who washes the cars in the same colony knows nothing of childhood fun and leisure. The grim squalor of poverty, neglect and abuse haunts him/her.
We have gotten used to seeing the discrimination and disparity that have become such a great hindrance in the path of our national progress. While a certain urban elite section continues to prosper and grow richer, it is painful to see the general disregard for the way the other half struggles to survive. But our greatest failure as a nation is that we have not been even able to protect our children from the cruel hands of misguided development, which has created such a gulf among them. Today, so many of India’s children have access to the best education and healthcare; they enjoy a great deal of exposure to opportunities and they manage to nurture many talents.Yet across the country, thousands of children are forced into child labor and are victims of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. They are, thus, completely robbed of the beautiful phase of growing up. Childhood ceases to hold meaning and becomes a vacuum of shame and terror.The indistinct conception and inefficient execution of child rights in India only aggravates the problem.
We hear our leaders make all sorts of promises and we, ourselves, continue to set greater milestones; nuclear energy, international peace, economic growth are few of the goals that we hope to achieve. It is a wonder how we miss those vacant stares of the less privileged children. They have no power to turn the wheels of progress for their benefit. We have to realize that our children are our dream and our future. Before setting such mighty targets, let us ensure their happiness and equality .Our duty towards the nation as well as the humanity would be well served.