One of the harsh realities of our country is child labour. This is in complete contradiction to the children’s rights and the right to education. The children caught in the web of child labour are denied their most fundamental rights.
But who are these children? Where did they find them? Where do they live?… These are some questions that need immediate answers. As a matter of fact, child labour is directly connected with poverty – the poor the family, more likelihood of children working to supplement the family income. Naturally, if the child is at work he cannot go to school.
There are set laws against child labour. However they differentiate only between hazardous and non hazardous child labour. Who is to decide which is which? The bottom line is, whether hazardous are not, child labour is detrimental to the children who are at the receiving end.
It is a good thing that the employment of children, under the age of 14 years, as domestic help has been prohibited. This holds true for the roadside tea shops, restaurants, hotels and resorts too. But, in spite of the ban, children are regularly employed as domestic help and for doing other odd jobs. The authorities responsible for law and order take action only when someone files a report against people in blowing little children for their house work. Unfortunately, not many people report.
India is said to have the largest number of working children in the world today. And, there is no reliable data available to measure this. As of now estimated figures place this number anywhere between 10 to 12 million children who are bearing the brunt of child labour. It is the need of the hour to conduct surveys in order to enumerate the children involved in the child labour.
They are almost like ghost workers that are not visible to the naked eye. They are present in the fields, in the factories, in small shops… everywhere. They must be taken away from such realities and given proper food, clothing, education and, most of all, their childhood.
The rehabilitation of these children is a mammoth task. However, it is not impossible. Apart from the laws, rules, regulations and norms, it is our collective responsibility to ensure that children of our country are given an opportunity for education. This has to hold true for all children from the poorest to the richest. For education is the one thing that will eliminate poverty, and hence, child labour. We owe it to our children, to the children of our country and to the future of our country.