By Haris Rashid
In a discussion on child labour in class, our teacher told us about the various schemes and laws that try to eliminate this menace from our society. But unfortunately, we still see a large number of children working.
This is their childhood – and at this age, they should not be working or taking up the responsibility of their families. And by doing this, we are stripping them off the joys of their childhood. By working, they simply grow up earlier than they are supposed to. Consequently, they often get depressed because of the issues that they have to handle.
Evidently, we can’t turn a blind eye to such a grave issue. In simple terms, this is destroying our society. After all, these children are the future of our nation and at this age, they should ideally be studying. We can’t afford to lose them if we wan’t our nation to progress steadily
Once, I got a chance to listen to a lecture by Tej Pratap, the former vice chancellor (VC) of the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Kashmir, at an INSPIRE camp. He told us about the poor conditions his family lived in. Besides going to school, he used to also play in the mountains near their hamlet – but his friends used to work with their parents in their farms. If he hadn’t been sent to school by his parents like his friends, it’s possible that his potential would never have been recognised.
We have many similar examples. For instance, the late APJ Abdul Kalam was perhaps no different. He used to work part-time – but he never allowed it to interfere with his education. Had he not been sent to school, it’s possible that he would still have worked as a newspaper seller and the nation would not have mourned his death. Neither would his birthday been selected to be celebrated as World Student’s Day by the UN. In all probability, he would have lived a most ordinary, unremarkable (or even poor) life.
Some people argue that we don’t have enough employment opportunities for everyone who is educated. Such people argue that it would be good if public money is used only on a few so that they can get a ‘perfect education’ and become productive. But, these people should know that we don’t gain education just so that we can be employed. Education also humanises us. It helps us become civilised.
Therefore, to build a better society, we need to educate all people – and in this regard, every child has a unique potential. They just need to be given the right direction for them to bring out their best.
Instead, these children continue to be paid meagre sums of money and are taken for granted. They are not provided the conditions that should be provided to them. We come across the incidences of child labour on a daily basis. Some work as salesmen, some clean utensils in restaurants and dhabas – while others mend shoes or work as domestic helps. Worse, since their labour is considered cheap, they continue to be in high demand. Meanwhile, the government and the law-enforcing agencies remain mute spectators to this menace.
Therefore, schemes or no schemes – let’s educate our children. Who knows how many ‘Kalams’ get wasted because of child labour. This is a huge loss to our society and nation. We don’t need to wait for law-enforcing agencies and their punishment – but we need to give it a thought and simply let our children go school. It isn’t the government but the layman on whom the onus to correct the system lies.
( About the Author : Haris Rashid is a student at Senior Secondary School-Boys, Aligarh Muslim University. He can be reached at [email protected] )
Featured image for representative purposes only.