End Child Labour: It’s time to stop being a Silent Witness

I could throw out a bunch of statistics and facts at you right now, regarding children who don’t get the chance to be educated.

I could put one of many millions of images of children in waterlogged slums, in shoe-polish factories and cotton industries around the world.

I could share with you how at the tender age of 11, a little boy has already had a career as a miner.

I could start off with a well-meaning quote from a celebrity to put an end to child labour.
There is much more eloquent prose on the subject on the internet, than you can ever expect to read on this blog. That does not stop me from talking about it.

Because unless one talks, one can never be heard.

An issue like child labour can be completely eradicated in a country like India if every person does one simple thing: stop feigning ignorance of the reality you see around you.

Stop ignoring little Chotu who brings you your tea at the roadside dhaba.

Stop acting like you don’t see the little child who carries clothes heavier than his own body weight as your presswala.

That’s all I ask.

We write off many experiences in life as ‘the price to pay’ for our given status.

Being lonely at the top. Being harassed on the streets if you wear a short skirt. Being chided for coming out of the closet. Being married off when you’re just 14. Being made an errand boy at age 7.

Question this self-anointed price tag.

Drench yourself in the puddle of reality, rather than choosing the comfort of the pavement and umbrella.

As of today, there are 10 million children in India that work rather than study, that battle intense pangs of hunger and thirst  than struggle over simple division, that dance in the rain with no warm place to go back to.

The children are not the problem, but the solution.

That’s 10 million solutions.

Simple mathematics.

When friends ask me why I choose to go into slums with open, overflowing gutters to talk to children for a school enrollment campaign, and look at me as if I’m insane – I just smile. Because I’m too busy envisioning a world with no poverty and children happily going to schools every single day. That’s not my bold idealism talking, it’s a reality we can all create if we choose to. In fact, it is imperative that we do.

Nitisha Pande