Satire in the Age of Letters and Technology- more than just a pinch of it.
-By Shivani Khare246 million children are engaged in child labor world over.
The irony is, they do this in order to survive.
12th June is celebrated as Anti Child Labor Day across the world. This year a lot of NGOs took up the cause with great vigor, rallies were organized, photo exhibitions were inaugurated, and sensitization programs were launched. One such attempt was by Prayas, an NGO which actively supports child rights by carrying out life skill enhancement training, vocational training, rehabilitation programs, and providing homes for children. Almost 200 children carrying strongly worded placards and screaming slogans with all their might marched into the slum areas of Sangam Vihar.
The rally started from the head office of the NGO which is in Tughlakabad, moving into the interiors of Sangam Vihar and proceeded towards Tughlakabad fort. The young kids along with other volunteers walked undeterred in the harsh heat of Delhi for almost two and a half hours, but not one person complained. For once,the cause came before ones own comfort.
This rally was an eye opener for me. Of course, most of us are aware of the sad living conditions in the slums but to think of it sitting in the comfort of your air conditioned room is a wholly different story from actually going and seeing the extent of squalor a major percentage of our country lives in. It’s as different as feeling plain pity as compared to fierce anger and a need to bring about change.
Most of the households in India have a small kid employed at home who helps around with daily chores and acts as a playmate to the child of the house. It’s hardly an uncommon sight to see a young, undernourished child carrying the school bag of a well off kid double his size. Many families actually believe that by employing young children for small chores and paying them a pittance they are actually doing them a favor. They’re at least helping them survive.
Consider this scenario, you have a young child employed at home from whom you don’t expect much, maybe some help with the daily chores and to play with your kid but does the child really have any choice? If he doesn’t want to play with your kid does he have the choice to refuse or what if he doesn’t like the game your kid wants to play, is he allowed to throw a tantrum. Would you not see such behavior as impertinence? Why though, do we sometimes forget that they are after all children, not privileged but still children! What you are actually doing is handing over a little slave to your child. If you are so concerned about supporting the livelihood of underprivileged children, a better alternative would be to sponsor their education and provide for their basic needs.
It is a valid reasoning that when your first priority is to look for the means for the next meal, education takes a backseat. Child labor and poverty feed of each other, this is where action from the government is required. Progress is slow, but till then we can and we should make all attempts to change the thinking of people and take initiatives on an individual level.