By Srishti Chauhan:
In a country with largest number of children out of school and more kids of school going age than the world’s most populous country, juvenile laws regarding education play an instrumental growth in long term social growth of the country.
To begin with one such example: Consider the RTE Act which provides free and compulsory education to all children 6-14 years of age. The Act definitely has started paving way for an educated and literate India. However, it is not devoid of shortcomings. An issue raised by one of the most active bodies in the country- CRY (Child Rights and You) is probably also the most significant. What happens to a child who has studied till 14 years of age? What are the opportunities he gets after this age? Is being able to read and write simple words in any one language and being able to do simple mathematical calculations the only thing that the Education Ministry should be held responsible for?
Moreover, the loophole present in this Act has already been identified and is being utilized by the private schools all over India. After being forced to compulsorily keep under-privileged children till they attain the age of 14, the admission of these children is revoked and they are left with no option other than to get a menial job which helps pay for their food and clothing.
Another example that highlights the need for government to make the Acts and laws more diverse and cover the grey areas is hidden in the Acts that cover the arenas of juvenile criminal offenses. In Juvenile homes, children who have committed minor offenses like stealing are made to live with those who have committed major offenses like rape and murder. What could be more damaging than such a state? Moreover, the existence of unclear laws and clauses in many acts makes it difficult for NGOs and other bodies to file a law suit against the state for doing the same.
Similarly, even though the government has abolished child labor, it has not come up with a follow up plan for the same. If the police in a particular area bust a racket that involved children working in a carpet factory, many people think it to be the end of traumatic lives for the young souls. However, a child who is working in a carpet making factory must have some financial constraints that push him to take such a major step- is it not?
A follow up plan is what is greatly missing in all government schemes. As an example consider a case where children from a particular area are forcibly admitted into a school. After, say 1-2 months, is there ever a check on whether they are still going to school or are involved in doing menial jobs to help run a household?
Similarly, lax laws and lack of regular checks on NGOs that claim to exist for the betterment of children lead to cases of sodomy and repeated abuse- sometimes for over a decade- that ultimately produce mentally unstable and disturbed children.
Beggary is yet another area where the laws of the government fail miserably. Beggary is apparently not legal. However, for those who reside in Delhi- how uncommon is it to see a beggar in popular areas near traffic signals? What happens to these children? A major example of such beggary to which children are subjected to can be observed near popular malls in South Delhi where children near about assault you by pulling clothes and any bags you are carrying unless you give them money.
With so many grey areas in laws concerning the makers of the future of this country, the future does indeed appear desolate