The childhood that should be spent at school in learning, is instead spent in collecting paper from trash or panhandling for begging in the Railway stations or changed into hungry looks fto get a morsel of discarded food from the dumpster and keep haunting the minds. On the other hand in corporate schools, News papers, official programs, childrens days appear as colorful dreams, like the sight of a golden future and launch a new world in your eyes. According to UNICEF estimations, there are about 158 millions of child workers around the world under fourteen years of age. These numbers are based on those kids, who are working in various trades and mines. There are innumerable children who work in homes in India or in different types of dark worlds, dealing with drugs and trafficking around the globe.
In reality, there is no business within the country where children are not seen working. Some time back there was a huge hue and cry over this issue and an uproar among the media and Govt. to show that the Law against employing Child workers was passed and enacted. The media that showed that it is working relentlessly towards emancipation of bonded child workers, is now hardly ever reporting on the subject, even once a month. Does that mean bonded child labour are not there? That means it is a thing to feel happy about.
So, until now, children collecting trash, and empty bottles and other stuff in Railway compartments, and leading a life in bonded labor, do not get time or attention from Government or corporations. Sometimes, when those children are accommodated in hostels, it is reported that, they run away the next day. Firstly, it may be a bit useful to hold counseling in batches to such children who are child workers and their parents, and homeless children and orphan children, in this regard. However, if the officials are acting out only to see whether they enacted the law or not mechanically, it is not going to stop childhood going to streets, and this will continue endlessly.
Childhood flourishes when children are protected from economic exploitation, from situations that steal children’s freedom, rights and education. Government and voluntary organizations and every member of the society should work towards protecting children and securing them a carefully planned future. That is when the Children’s Day celebrations hold any meaning.*
- Hemalatha Putla