Child Labour : Their Choice Or An Irony Of Fate

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Running on the road or at any other public place,  a feeling of gust and pity always arises in our hearts, both for the country and the slum children begging or working with their innocent faces and needy eyes. Hardly any of us will empty our pockets there, but our tongue and thoughts will not stop of condemning and showing fancy pity on them and coming up with the suggestion that these hands should have books rather than working on the streets.

Trafficking in human beings and other kinds of forced labor are made a punishable offence by the law framers. Any child below the age of 14 years shall not be engaged in any hazardous employment. A Fundamental Right providing for free and compulsory education for children between the age of 6 to 14 years finds mention in the Indian constitution. The United Nations has also provided the right to education in Art. 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 (UDHR). But will these rights and laws help them to support their livelihoods? Will the books feed their empty stomachs? Will the A,B,C,D and 1,2,3 cover their naked body and bare feet at present???

Everyone on this planet is not fortunate enough to have a well off family. Many of these young children have to take responsibilities and support themselves and their family at a tender age. Only money can help them to fulfill their responsibilities. There are only three ways to have it in our pocket- earn, beg and rob. Some children start with honesty but almost everyone ends up with the immoral activities. It is actually not their fault every time that they are walking on the wrong track of life. It is our hatred which provokes them most of the times to become criminals and take revenge from the society for their misery and insults. The children who are brought up in well off families with proper education also many times stray towards an immoral path. Then how can we expect a person who is lacking with moral teachings and proper parental care to be on the right track always? It is not their choice to beg or to start earning at such an innocent age, rather, they are compelled to do this because of their poor situations.

Just imparting free education and financial aid of a few thousands or lakhs cannot solve their financial problems for their whole life and make the future of these innocents and country bright. The need of these slum children primarily are the basic amenities of life, namely  “food, cloth and shelter”  and only then comes education secondarily. Under Art. 25 of theUDHR, , it is provided that everybody has a right to be cared and to live a healthy and happy life. This line will conclude the needs of these children in a better way,  “Bhookhe pet bhajan na hoye gopala”

Having said that, at the same time, we cannot ignore the need for education for these children. Only education can help them to become a responsible citizen of the country and consequently reduce criminal tendencies. So, now we have to focus on the other aspect of education, i.e., the vocational training. Such children should be provided primarily the vocational training with moral education and secondary focus should be on the academic subjects. This will enable them to gain skills in a better way and earn with dignity and to lead a better life without begging and robbing.

A very important step  of clearing the changes in the Child Labor Act and making it more friendly to those living from hand to mouth has been taken by the Indian Parliament in this direction which has solved this dilemma up to a great extent.. The Act now allows children below the age of 14 years to work in ‘non-hazardous’ family enterprises which includes work in fields, forests and home based work only after school hours or during vacation or under such conditions which don’t affect their study. This will help poor families to fulfill both their dreams to educate their children, along with their stomach. Working with families,  the children will be able to maintain and pass on their hereditary culture and legacy to future generations. It will also encourage entrepreneurship, understanding of business ethics and monetary values and also the family values. By allowing the children to work in the entertainment industry, more talent will be added to the existing expertise.  . This will help children to not only earn, but also to pursue their interested field. The sky of opportunities for children building their future has been widened by the amendments in the Act.

The most important role is played here by the Art. 29 of the UDHR, which allots everyone a duty of responsibility towards others. We all have to be there to support the people who are in need. So to solve this problem along with legislative enactments, we also need to change our attitude towards these poor slum children. The hatred in our hearts should be replaced by the feelings of love, care and support for them and we should motivate them to live a life with dignity, because it is our hatred which demoralizes them and produce counter hatred in their hearts.  Someone has rightly said  “Hatred can only be conquered by love.” So, from today let us all change our attitude towards these slum children and together let us  make this world a better place to live.

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