The Value of Innocence

There was a function organised on the
day to lay emphasis on ways and means to eradicate child labour. Ironically, tea was being served by Ramu, a tea boy.

Ramu works at a tea stall where he washes cups and plates and serves tea. One day the tea stall owner asked him not to come for three days, as a team of Inspectors was to visit around the city to check whether any child has been employed.

The ingenious Ramu suggested a way out, “Sir, I’ll become a customer at that time and if asked, I’ll confirm too.”

“But you used to say that you don’t lie!”

“Yes sir, but should I listen to my heart or the belly?”

Ramu is a poor child, who doesn’t know what is childhood, as he has been directly migrated to adulthood. And he is not alone. According to the National Census, 2011, there were over 33 million children engaged as child labour in India in the age group of 6 to 18 years, and 80% of them were in rural areas.

Today is the world day against child labour that was launched by International Labor Organization (ILO) in 2002 and is observed now every year in order to create awareness among people about the plight of children working as labourers. The theme for this year 2022 is “Universal social protection to end child labour”.

The Government of India (GOI) has promulgated Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 and its Amendment Act, 2016 prohibiting employment of children in hazardous occupations and processes apart from ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Child (UNCRC).

GOI has also initiated the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme in 1988 to identify and rehabilitate working children by putting them into special schools with mid-day meals, health-care and a nominal stipend.

Despite these welfare measures, legislations and overall awareness, the child labour is still going on unabated. Why? One is poverty and the other is lack of will power.

For a poor man, his children add more hands to earn income for the family, and he himself pushes them towards child labour. For him, the priority is the hunger, and only a hungry person knows what the hunger pangs are.

Besides awareness and more stringent laws, measures should be taken for income generation in the source areas, for which skill development and employment programmes need to be launched and implemented religiously.

No doubt, rehabilitation and employment generation measures have been taken. NGOs like CRY (Child Rights and You), Save the Children, SOS Children Villages, Childline India, Nanhi Kali etc are also working, but a coordinated and multi-pronged push is required.

For each and every thing, we can’t hold the government of the day responsible. We are also responsible. We discuss it in our drawing rooms and offices, but turn a blind eye when we see a child working. Paying lip service does no good. Let’s desist from taking domestic work that deprives a child of its childhood.

Let every children cherish and enjoy their innocent childhood. Let’s smile back at them to make and strengthen their belief that this world is a good place to live. I conclude with a quote by Nobel laureate, Sri Rabindranath Tagore:
“Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.”

–Kaushal Kishore

images: pinterest

29 Comments

  1. In Ghana, children mostly help their families sell things after school, this was a pretty common phenomenon and frankly no one did and mostly still don’t see it as child labor. I didn’t sell as much because I was terrible at it, usually end up getting sand over the fishes I was supposed to be selling….my university roommate helped her mother sell water till she had to come to the university….my cousins helped their grandmother sell sponge, sometimes they didn’t want to go when it cuts into some play time activity they were enjoying….other times they were more than eager to go….those who helped sell things are very proud of their skills and make fun of those pampered and lacking in the ability to do hardwork….
    Till they started talking child labor on the TV, which is just like 15yrs ago, no one saw a thing wrong with it…. certainly not as abuse..
    Recently we started seeing an increase in the number of children beggars on the streets, people were angry about that and keep screaming at the children to sell something instead of begging for free money….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Here in India also, children help their families, it’s nothing unusual, but it shouldn’t be full-time, as it will disrupt their education and schooling. Children from poor families do double tasking, but they shouldn’t be deprived of normal childhood activities, e.g. playing, enjoying, reading, learning etc. However, begging is totally undesirable practice that must be prohibited.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. This post, Kaushal, is a harrowing read, it also makes me angry that with so many organisations and charities supposedly devoted to helping children, child labor is still going on.
    Every word written here is important but is there any solution apart from the taxpayers urging the government to give the money to the poor families? And would there be enough
    money to implement such an idea? We do have the welfare payments in this country but it is never enough and with the rising cost of living, the food banks.
    There is only a spirit-lifting moment for me here, and that is the wise words of Tagore.

    Joanna

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Joanna, for this thoughtful response. I have already stated in my article that responsibility is ours too. If we are employing a child in our home or office, instead of helping them to go to school, who is responsible?
      During the last 20 years, I have seen a lot of measures being taken up in this direction both by NGOs and the Government, but it’s a time consuming job. General awareness has increased. I have seen boys and girls even in remote villages going to schools, I’m quite hopeful that the problem will be solved to a great extent within the next 10 to 15 years. I’m glad that you liked Tagore’s quote, my favourite too.

      Like

  3. Such a heart-wrenching post Kushaul. My thought went to our Lord Jesus saying “The poor you shall always have with you,” and sadly, it’s a fact until sin is no more. It seems until that final victory is won, touching writings like yours bring awareness and compassion for the plight of our innocent children, prompting us to do what we can to lessen the burden for them.
    One who is moaning and groaning until God’s kingdom is fully come on earth,
    ❤️Michele
    Bless you dear brother for having such a tender and loving heart and for giving us treasures from it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Michele for your heart-warming response. My only concern and regret is that innocent children are deprived of their just right to childhood at the altar of poverty and disparity. Anyway things are improving with passage of every day, and I’m sure that these flowers of God will get their rightful share anytime soon. 💖💐

      Like

      1. Oh dear Kaushal, I share the desire, but It hurts to say that we are living in days likened to those of Noah… I wish it wasn’t so, but wickedness, greed and the love of money have surpassed any generation’s hitherto…. Think of it: We are killing full term babies, even ones born, by the millions, maybe billions, without a second thought: NONE of these precious flowers even got to see the light of day.
        I believe in a loving God who has a good end for us, but before that end comes, we will know the day described in Malachi that will burn as an oven. We don’t like to hear it, but woes are coming and right now, God is placing a mark of protection on those who are crying out against the abominations taking place…. Those who do righteously will be barely saved, but all who fear the Lord and walk up uprightly shall be saved and protected if they endure to the end. Our light is going to shine as the sun and many will come to us wanting to know how they can be saved, and we will tell them that there is no other name that man can be saved, but the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Only His blood can wash away our sins and protect us.
        You’re a beautiful person, Kausal, but neither your goodness, mine or anyone else’s can save us. It’s a somber message, but it’s the truth. Let him who has ears hear, and him who has eyes see. You are very much loved, my brother.
        ❤️Michele

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you, Michele, for such an enlightening message. So nicely worded. I agree whatever you say. Let the God decide what is better for all of us. With love and regards 💖💐

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s an insightful post about our society.

    I have seen significant decrease in child labour in our area.

    Now, Parents prioritise quality education for their child.

    Education = Better Jobs

    Child labour has risk, too.

    I have got to know IAS officers who struggled in their childhood.

    Later they played an important role in ending child labour, and improving better conditions for children.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lokesh, for this well thought comment. I have already stated in my previous comments that situations are improving day by day. Children in remote villages are also getting education. It takes time and efforts, but I’m sure that this problem will be solved in the next one or two decades.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A wonderful eye opening post KK and I share your sentiments exactly!

    “Let every children cherish and enjoy their innocent childhood. Let’s smile back at them to make and strengthen their belief that this world is a good place to live.”
    💖💖

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s the same here in Pakistan also. It’s shameful that as a society we have failed to protect these innocent ones. Sometimes you know its not even about the fact that people can’t afford good education for their kids but also that they are tied to out dated ideas of tradition. Like I Know some poor families that will not let their female kids be educated because of their conservative mindset which is so harmful later in life for those girls. It really really sucks. And I wish I could do something to help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s true in almost all the developing countries. The innocence is snatched from children. This is against the human rights, but who cares. I’m glad that you wish to do something for the girls’ education. I’m sure one day your wish will be translated into action. Thank you for reading and sharing such beautiful reflections. Much much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I really hope I am able to make even a small change in others life someday. Its my dream to work with the UN and other organizations so that I can do something. I hope it comes true.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Dream, believe, act and achieve. It starts with dream, and since you have a dream, I’m sure you will do what you wish to do. Amen!

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s