‘Ae Chotu chai la’ NO MORE !

I have to travel nearly 20 km every day to my college and then 20 km back home and it’s the most irritating ride as the traffic in Pune is the most unpredictable. Some days you get empty roads but on most occasions broken buses force you to halt. Signals are a plenty which irks me every day. On these very signals are the children that I watch each day. They sell toys, flowers, cards etc. They even rush when a four wheeler stops to clean it’s windshield in return of some bucks. I am always in a hurry and I move on.

Today is not the day to move on. Today is the World Day against Child labour. As I see children on the signals through which I travel, I realise that these aren’t the only few. There are 168 million child labourers in the world and more shockingly India is the home for the largest number of child labourers in the world. Selling ice-creams and vegetables is not the only job they do they are infact used for more hazardous work.

Beedi making, fireworks’ factories, plastic factories, automobile garages, tanning leather, soap manufacturer, hotels, brick kilns and roof tile making are a few occupations were the children work. The girls mostly indulge in domestic work. Cleaning, washing and the regular household chores. This comes at the cost of education.

In most cases the children have to work to help their families. The poor parents consider their children as an extra source of income for supporting the family financially. While in some cases the families expect their children to join their family business at a tender age and leave education because they themselves aren’t educated. They think that education doesn’t do any good and earning money is everything. This is pure ignorance.

The government has taken steps to stop Child labour. According to the Child labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986, there is a ban on the employment of children below the age of 14 years in factories, mines and hazardous work.

Under Article 21 A, It is stated that the state shall provide infrastructure and resources for free and compulsory education for children from the age of six upto 14 years.

Is this enough, Certainly NO !

We the citizens, who have privileged lives who roam around the city on our bikes, have a shelter on our head, well ironed clothes to wear must stop the rhetoric ‘Ae Chotu chai la’ to the children working at the tea stalls and instead complain to the concerned office where such Chotus work.

When you see kids on the street asking for money stop giving them instead help them with food, clothing, education and the happiness that you would get would be unimaginable.

They too have a life, they too have dreams. The only thing they need is an opportunity, an opportunity to shine, to showcase their talent and we are no one to suppress it. However we could become the stepping stones for these under privileged children to march on their path to glory.