When I decided to write on the immense number of cases of child labour in India, I wasn’t certain where I would start from. We have read so much about it, and there are an infinite number of campaigns to create awareness. Yet, we have also noticed minors working in the most harmful conditions. Did we ever intend to do something to curb this menace?
When we find children begging on the roads and coaxing us to give them some money, it feels shameful more than disgusting. We pray that we can escape as soon as possible. We don’t like to see them begging – but we rarely help them in escaping this curse.
It should be no surprise if I tell you that my perception was also exactly the same, till I volunteered for an NGO and visited slum kids for an education drive. I was stunned to see the interest and inclination of every child towards learning. All of them were so excited and thrilled to take part in the activities. They also showed some great skills.
Our help at home has two daughters. The elder one could not study much, as she had other household responsibilities. But, she (our help) tells us that her younger daughter (Rekha) is good in academics and wants to continue excelling in it. I feel so elated when she praises her daughter. The brightness in her eyes when she speaks about Rekha is very contagious!
Taking quick action to eliminate child exploitation is a must if we really want to see the future generation growing, which may lead to a brighter India.
The following steps can be taken by the government and individuals, to overcome such heinous crimes:
1. Education: The best way to kill ignorance is by educating the younger generation. Apart from government initiatives, NGOs and volunteers can educate children and people about the adverse consequences of working in unhygienic conditions.
2. Intimate exact authority: Whenever you notice a child employed in a suspicious condition, the solution is simply to inform a nearby NGO or the police station. When we bring it to the notice of the concerned person, it’s easier to curb the problem.
3. Volunteer: Try to spare a little time for the betterment of society. Only then will you be able to understand and gauge the negative impact that a deprived childhood has on the growing economy and progress of the country .
4. Strict laws: Let’s accept it – most of the employers who encourage employment of minors are also aware of the consequences it would have on the child and on society. But they are also mindful of the fact that there aren’t any strict laws to stop it. So, the best way to lower down the number of such crimes is to make the penalties sterner and their enforcement faster and more effective – so that no one can escape and challenge the laws.
5. Educate parents: This can often be challenging. In many cases, these children work because their parents want them to, due to poverty. Because of the low wages earned, parents are reluctant to see or send their children to school.
Children are not born to be given tools from early childhood. Parents have to be patiently counselled about the havoc it may cause to their health in long run.
6.Effective response team: We know there are child helpline numbers which can lead to action being taken, if they are rung up. But, we are also aware about the number of times these calls are supposedly answered. Even if we think of taking a step forward, the response (or its lack) on the other end makes us reluctant to do it again. Therefore, there is an immediate need to have an efficient and quick response system.
7. Take responsibility: We must have noticed a lot of minors working as domestic helps. The reasons for this could be anything from poverty, lack of resources, to children being abandoned by parents and inability to approach the right person. Instead of using these children as labour, people should instead take the responsibility of sponsoring their education.
Imbibing thoughtfulness towards the importance of an educated and knowledgeable generation without child labour is the only way to have a prosperous nation.