Why Should India Get Rid of Child Labor?
The other day, my domestic help inquired if I needed an office boy to do odd jobs at my workplace. When I probed into his basic details like age, schooling, etc. she replied, “He is ten years old. Silly boy wants to go to school but how can I send him madam if I don’t have the money to pay his fees? He must work as early as possible so that he supports the family and stops pestering us for school.” I had no comeback to that response, but those words kept ringing in my ears and really got me thinking as to why these sweet little gifts of God become victims to the horrendous trap called ‘child labor’.
I don’t hesitate to say that India is a country of paradoxes. One such great example of the paradox in India is that of children, who are regarded as blessings on one hand, but are made to serve as laborers on the other hand. With the largest chunk of Indian population being children, it goes without saying that child labor is deep rooted in the nation. In fact, India ranks highest in terms of the number of child laborers in the world, which is indeed a highly shameful position to be in. In a constitution which talks about equality, the rich become richer and the poor continue to degrade into poverty.
Children – as young as 5 years of age – are employed in commercial and domestic establishments and made to perform sundry chores for the employer. Cleaning the house, washing dishes and clothes, making tea, serving food to customers and even begging on the streets are some of the odd jobs that little children are made to do by their employers. It’s hard to imagine how, a nine-year old girl who might have been a diligent student in school, is working as a domestic help in a high society complex in a metropolitan city. Or the eleven-year old boy who might have grown up to become a world famous painter, is actually serving tea to the ‘babus’ in their high-rise air-conditioned offices.
Why should all this stop? Why should India get rid of child labor? Why should children not be made to serve as laborers? For the simple reason that they are just children! They are meant to be receiving proper education, playing the sports they like and pursuing the hobby they feel strongly about. They must not be exploited for the benefit of someone else, who wouldn’t even appreciate their efforts enough. Lack of proper education and basic amenities like food, shelter and security forces child labor to strengthen its base in India.
Child labor prevails in the country because of the vicious cycle of poverty and illiteracy. Children are made to work because the families are poor, because of which they cannot afford education. As a result, they end up doing menial jobs which do not pay sufficient, and hence they remain poor. The entire chain affects children the most, in terms of their physical and psychological health. They grow up to become unhealthy individuals and do not possess a developmental outlook. They are the future citizens of the democracy and by putting their childhood in jeopardy; we are risking the growth of the country.
On the occasion of ‘World Against Child Labor’ on the 12th of June, let us all pledge that we will not allow the little shining stars of the country fade away in the atrocity of child labor.