04 August, 2006

No more half trousers


Everyone has different passion. During my early 20’s riding motorcycle was a passion for me. I have tried to maintain my bike well. I hated repairs and punctures with my motor cycles. It was not because of my purse going thin, but for the pathetic condition that prevails at the Mechanic’s shed. Any mechanic in Chennai would have engaged at least one boy of less than 10 year old in his shop. I have felt very pity for those boys. Just because they were born poor, lack of facilities at home and economic situations, they were forced to forget their studies, and take up jobs at a very young age. When children of their age, were carrying Cricket bats and School bags, these kids used to carry Screw drivers and spanners. I used to feel helpless.

Many times, I have seen some of the boys abused at their workplaces. I have even seen some of the bosses physically assaulting those helpless child labourers. I have avoided going to such workshops because they were handling the child labourers. If at all I went again to those workshops, it was only to help those boys by giving few advices and tips for their good work. Some of the owners have not liked me giving them money. I could not do anything more than that during that stage. The boys were not able to hide their smile, when they saw me stopping in front of their sheds. The same way, whenever we had been to hotels, the first person to attract our eyes will be the boys who will come and clean our tables. Just after cleaning they used to go to a corner and look at our table, and our plate. I have seen hunger in their face. Again, we have left those places helplessly. The best we could do was to avoid having food again at such a place.

In railway stations, these kids sell peanuts. Road side they sit with their shoe polishing talents. They also work in most of the provision stores. If that is so with the boys, the girls go for house hold works.

Majority of them work in Beedi, and fireworks factories. Once when a child was born to me and started raising him, these sights of children working started haunting me and my family more than before. My son came with a great idea of sacrificing the joy of bursting crackers. We did not buy crackers for few years unless there was a declaration from some of the popular brands, that they were not engaging child labour.

These children were prone to many hazards, abuse, bullying, mental illness, and at times even sexual abuse. I have seen these kids working 12 hours a day and working for 6 days a week too.

We were hoping for an end to all these, and my joy was boundless when I read the news last evening in the newspaper while going home by train. I was overjoyed and looked around to share the news.

The new legislation bans children under the age of 14 from working as domestic servants
or at hotels, teashops, restaurants and resorts. I also understand that this may not be good news for those families who depend solely on these children earnings. I could only feel for those mothers, who have ailing husband, or drunkards and had to depend on those children additional earnings.

There may be critics talking about the effectiveness of the ban. There may be big wigs who may try to find loop holes, and engage them illegally. If the new law has to do any good then the government should look into the proper enforcement of the ban. Also they should concentrate on bringing compulsory education and a little allowance for those economically backward families to uplift them.

I read somewhere that Kerala has virtually no child labour. This was possible because the Governments improved the quality of education and parents were more willing to send their children to school.

The great consolation for us should be that the fact India is also undergoing sweeping economic change. According to some experts, the GDP of India is expected to rise from 6 per cent to 11 per cent by 2025, outranking the U.S. — making India the third pole in the global economy after the U.S. and China. As India prepares to become an economic superpower, it must expedite socio-economic reforms and take steps for overcoming institutional bottlenecks inherent in the system, say analysts at Economy Watch.

The great hope is these laws will at least give moral support to those organisations who are fighting against child slavery.

12 comments:

ambi said...

your kids inherit all of your good charecters. (i meant avoiding crakers) konjam overaa thaan ice vechuteenoo? :)

Suji said...

Yes, lets hope the Govt. enforces the legislation, which is quite a task in India.

வேதா said...

i too feel the same when i see kids working. i even asked a boy who worked in a provision store. he was around 14. he said that his family was so poor that he could not continue his studies. i advised him that he could write his tenth exams privately. he said he would do it. and then after some days he left work. i dont know whether he has gone to his village or he has started studying. the very important thing in abolishing child labour is providing them quality education and helping them financiallyand there are some night schools where the children can study after work.

Vanathi said...

Happy Frienship Day Balaji...

Jeevan said...

The child labors grow on the demand of the situation in their family. I think their life standard should raise, many child labors created by they parents, if their father was an addiction for liquor or lays to work. I ask these parents one if you can’t grow you children’s then why are u giving birth to them. I don’t hope that the law will control the Child labor, as we all seen many law’s and its holes.

My question was if the Govt could bring a law to ban child labors, why can’t u bring a law for banning beggar children’s?

Jeevan said...

HAPPY FRIENDSHIP DAY (Aug 6) dear friend, nice to have u with me:)

LeperColony said...

I guess there isn't much in the way of social programs in India then?

Barbienan said...

i really think its a long way to go to ban many things that haunts in day to day life. Indian people have more worries abt who is marrying whom, who ran away with whom and the salary of actors etc.. but i feel i should not talk abt anything as I have no right as i didnt do anything for them. Hope some good hearts bring in change in system.

Balaji S Rajan said...

Ambi- Thanks. We keep teaching the kids good and bad. It is upto them to take it. Practise makes a man perfect. Ice yellam illai... Ingey orey veyilu.... oruvelai athanalla theriyalainnu ninaikarane...

Suji - Yes it is a task in India.

Veda - Most of the bloggers have similar thoughts. Quality education is needed. I have spoken to many of the kids from slum in Chennai. All of them wanted to study and have discontinued due to family reasons. I am happy that I could convince few kids to give up stealing. Once I shocked a boy by taking him to a bakery and fed him with whatever he wished. It cost me only less than Rs.20/- but gave him a great satisfaction and he decided to earn his bread. Recently during my visits a young man came running to me with a big smile on his face, and introduced himself saying that he was the young boy whom I got him cakes and sweets. He has learnt the art of laying tiles, and is happy with his life. Kids wander without education and it is a must.

Vanathi - Thanks and wish you the same.

Balaji S Rajan said...

Jeevan - Thanks for your wishes. I wish the Government brings a law soon on what you wish.

lepercolony - There are few social reforms. But the population is too large and the reforms are inadequate to cater the needs.

barbienan - I too wish some noble and good hearted people bring in good things in the future.

Chakra Sampath said...

> when I read the news last evening in the newspaper

- Balaji, which newspaper were you reading? I am curious coz as i wd like to know which one carries Indian news of this kind.

Balaji S Rajan said...

Chakra I am regular reader of 'The Times' since I moved to London. For first few days I was going through 'Metro' and 'Daily Telegraph' not our 'Dina Thanthi'. Then switched over to 'The Times'.