We Need To Talk About This Issue That Dia Mirza And MP Kalikesh Deo Are Fighting For

STC logoEditor’s Note: With #TheInvisibles, Youth Ki Awaaz and Save the Children India have joined hands to advocate for the rights of children in street situations in India. Share your stories of what you learned while interacting with street children, what authorities can do to ensure their rights are met, and how we can together fight child labour. Add a post today!

Recently, I found out that the cup of chai that I drink every morning could be a product of slave-like labour. Worse still, slave-like labour of little children, thousands of whom, for instance, are employed by tea estates in Assam. These are children who deserve to go to school, deserve the safety net of a family and loved ones, who should sleep with full stomachs.

But this is far from reality. It is estimated that an astounding 82.2 lakh children in India alone, work as labourers. On June 12, which is World Day Against Child Labour, we decided to take the discussion to Twitter and figure out what we can do to ensure that #EveryLastChild can enjoy the basic rights he/ she deserves. We were joined on our chat by Dia Mirza and Kalikesh Singh Deo, who’ve actively been involved in advocating for the rights of children. Passionate about securing the rights of India’s most vulnerable, Dia is the artist brand ambassador of Save the Children – India, while Kalikesh has spoken out multiple times on the importance and role of youth in uplifting the lives of children on India’s streets.

The chat yielded some crucial lessons on everyday practices we can all follow to help #TheInvisibles:

Dia Mirza, Actor, Model, Producer and Activist

Q: As young people, what can we do to help curtail the practice of child labour?
Dia: Shopping ethically- making sure we don’t buy brands that employ children. Be aware and discuss these issues with peers, build other conscious change makers.

Q: How can we be more socially conscious shoppers?
Dia: If you know local brands employing children, report them. Avoid buying from children at signals and help them according to [guidelines in the] SOP.

Q: You’ve taken up many social causes. What role can social influencers play in taking such causes forward?
Dia: Use every platform of engagement to amplify the message.Ensure it reaches all.

Kalikesh Singh Deo, Member of Parliament- Bolangir, Odisha

Q: What prompted you to take up the issue of child labour and fight against it?
Kalikesh: Children are the future of our nation. By harming their future, we harm our nation, and our own future.

Q: How can policies become stricter to prevent and fight against abuse of children on the streets?
Kalikesh: Policies need to be tighter to close loopholes. Adequate budget and stricter implementation also needed urgently.

The chat was an extremely successful one, reaching over 2 million accounts on Twitter! Several Twitter users joined in and asked our panellists important questions, making crucial observations that added greater perspective to the discussion.

Overall, what emerged was that the practice of child labour is insidious. Many of us aren’t even aware that employing children is against the law. And as conscious citizens, we all need to effect the change collectively, to eradicate the social evil of child labour.

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