I was taking a short stroll that evening; I came across a small boy fitting bricks with clay. Impulsively I walked up to him and asked him, what do you want to be when you grow up? He replied if tomorrow comes, I want to be a worker. I was left dumbstruck. The thought that he was so congruous with his present job was so intense, he was so very sure of his inevitable future. Black clouds of utter disgust and remorse filled my heart. In the 60th anniversary of Indian independence a mind-boggling figure of 15% child labour stands in front of us—where is their independence?
Children—the future pillars of our society and the nation. But most of them are struggling in the shackles of their present lives. Poverty, hunger, discrimination and slavery are the harsh whips of society who are gradually snatching their freedom and throwing them into the darkest dungeons of Child Labour. Marcus Cicero said “Of all the nature’s gifts to human race, what is sweeter to a man than his children”, but in most cases a child’s helpless parents are the ones to push their children into the forever-dark world of labour. Children are the earthly images of God—this is what we frequently hear in so-called public meetings and social gatherings. But do we really go by the words or do we really mean what we say—no, especially not in a country like India, which is plagued by the problem of child labour for ages. Child Labour is one of the growing problems of the nation, which is gradually eating into the society like a parasite in present day national and social scenario that can no longer be obliterated altogether. This pessimistic tone is with much pain and helplessness. Mere promises and on-stage speeches are not the solutions neither the annually published facts and figures that remain enclosed and go un-noticed in articles and journals. Still to state facts about 60 to 115 million working children are there on the soil of India in varied sectors like agriculture, mining, manufacturing, livestock and the list is endless. They live in a sequestered world where they are robbed of their childhood, and where revival of humanity from the pernicious end seems to be a humungous task. It is a shame for us to know that the aforesaid figure is the highest in the world as per Human Rights Act-1996. India has always followed a proactive policy to tackle child labour. But this speech is not to repeat those facts and results of investigations. This is a meager attempt to invoke some social awareness in the minds of the listeners. Kailash Satyarthi commented, “Child Labour must not become the nation’s safety net”. To fight child labour India has devised many laws and policies. Article 24 of Indian Constitution deals with such issues but it is high time we really understand the real picture and take a step forward. As Boonthan Verawongse had said “Now it’s time to act—for the future of our generation.” Nothing much—remember ‘Children’s Day’, one can distinctly feel the difference—when one half is frolicking and enjoying the day as a holiday while the other half —– for the laborers it is just another passing day—they are simply deprived of the true feeling of being children. That phase seems to have been just omitted from their lives. Is the day not meant for them too? But, in today’s competitive world people neither has the time nor the interest to think about such things—they rather tend to be just another passive onlookers. But friends just a moment of thought for them and try to be a little good to them if nothing else. Television star Susan Sarandon said “Children reinvent your world for you”—— so please help these unfortunate souls to invent themselves first because they are those lost souls who needs a guiding light and a ray of hope to survive—or else they will be lost forever in the darkest lanes of life. Help them live and live like what they really are—as children and not as bonded labours. Help them feel the bright sunrays on their faces not the scorching heat of time. Help them reinvent themselves—they might change the world for you. It is the responsibility of our generation to make them feel like real children even if it is for a short duration—may be a day but that might be the first step for them. Diogenes said, “The foundation of every nation is the education of its youth.”—–educate a child, you might be changing the world for someone, you might be changing the future face of India. Guess it is not too much to ask!!
Those tiny little hands waiting to be held,
Those tearful eyes waiting for a sparkling miracle,
Those legs so tired, waiting to rest,
Those hearts filled with a thousand dreams,
Those souls searching for a support by their side,
Born free in the chains of labour, living in the darkness of the night,
Let the tomorrow come for them; let them see the world through the mirrors of light.