You walk into a restaurant. You order a cup of tea. A young boy brings you the tea. You feel pity on this boy and shell out some extra cash just for him. He smiles. But do you know what really lies behind that smile?
I have written this article today, to give you an idea about the menace of child labour in India. Many a time, we can see several children taking up some or the other work, that is manual labour, in different places, be it serving tea in a restaurant, or even being engaged in construction work. We do feel pity on these poor kids, but can’t really do anything about it. So what really is child labour, and why is it happening in our society?
CHILD LABOUR AND ITS CAUSES
During my first day of college, in the language class, we students were advised by our lecturer,” Now, you have joined a new college. New class, new uniforms, yes you have the right to feel happy. But take a moment and just think of those children, who are employed in jobs all over the country. They would give anything to sit where you are sitting right now. But unfortunately, they do not have that ‘anything’. For them, getting a decent education is just a dream!”
Child Labour is the act of employment of children in any work that deprives them of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful. There are several roadblocks which prevent children from enjoying their childhood and getting a decent education:
1) Lack Of Resources
Parents of such children are very poor, and just cannot afford to send their kids to school, even if they want to. I am really blessed that I have great parents who can afford to let me gain good education. But what about the thousands of others who aren’t so lucky? Who knows, there might be a potential engineer, doctor or even a world leader among them. Their parents do not have the resources to send them to school, and send them to work instead.
2) Cheap Labour
Another reason why poor parents send their kids to work is because they think it will bring some extra cash to the household. Little do they know that childhood is that time of one’s life, where one has to play and learn at the same time. Making them work against their will just makes them slaves!
3) Gender Inequality
As I have mentioned in my 1st article, the girl child is not really preferred to get a good education. Some parents feel that it is boys who must get educated, and it is girls who must work in households. By virtue of gender, education girls seems to be a low priority in India.
4) Inadequate Facilities
Several children are forced to drop out of school and go to work, just because schools in their areas do not have the right facilities to educate them.
DANGERS AND HAZARDS OF CHILD LABOUR
Many children are employed in construction work and mining works as well. These are the potential hazards they face.
1) Rapid skeletal growth
2) Risk of hearing loss
3) Greater need for food and rest
4) Behavioural and emotional damage
International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 22,000 children are killed at work every single year, and several 1000’s are injured.
AWARENESS IN INDIA
I recently read an article in the newspaper, in which a man (belonging to a rural village), who was a topper in his school days, has now taken up an initiative to educate other children from his village. Even though the children are involved in housework, they get a few hours to learn in the evening, thanks to this man. His work was soon recognized by many societies, and this initiative has now been taken up in several villages.
Article 24 of India’s Constitution strictly prohibits child labour. Additionally, various laws have been introduced to abolish child labour. Several NGO’s such as Bachpan Bachao Andolan and CARE India have been formed as well.
SOME FACTS ABOUT CHILD LABOUR IN INDIA
* UNICEF estimates that India, with its larger population, has the highest number of labourers in the world below 14 years of age.
* The 2001 National Census of India estimated the total number of child labourers aged 5-14 to be 12.6 million.
* In 2001, out of 12.6 million, about 12 million were employed in a hazardous job.
In children lies the hope of a prosperous and bright future of any country. But this doesn’t mean they have to get employed at a small age. Let them learn. And let them be what they want to be.
God Bless India
By Takshak Pai
Image Source : Child Labour
p.s. : Above figures have been taken from Wikipedia