Child Labour is a phenomena prevalent mostly in developing countries of Asia and Africa. This is not to be seen in the advanced countries of the West. The reason for this is very obvious, those who feel the need for financial support of the children only allow them to work and earn. In the Western countries, where education is compulsory, the question of children found working does not arise.
Let us analyse in some detail why, this child labour is commonly found in India, or for that matter in any if the developing countries. It is these only which have teaming millions of poor people. These poor people have to make every member work for his/her own food. With the earnings of all the members of the family, they are able to make their two ends meet. This same situation prevails in all the developing countries. I do wonder if any parents prefer to see their little children work for their food, instead of enjoying at school. When the school can only be a dream for the poor, we find the little boys at tea stalls, small restaurants, in mechanic shops, cleaning cars and working as shoeshines.
We also see small girls engaged in industries like match making, candle making etc., I am sure that, given a choice, all these parents would love to see these little slogging children enjoy their childhood at home or at school, but how – is the moot point. The children who are working are adding their little mite to the family income, and it may be so that, if they do not work, they may not be blessed with even one square meal a day.
Besides this, if the child does not go to school, what does he do throughout the day. Time will be wasted, and he will only learn wrong things of life, as, “an idle brain is a devil’s workshop”. So, in this situation, I personally feel that, though the condition is deplorable it is the lesser evil, and in the bargain the child gets food to eat. From the side of the child also, it is a certainty that, if he/she is asked for a preference, it will be for going to school. So when both, the parents and the children would prefer going to school then why this labour. It is obvious that they are thus working due to compulsions and not out of choice.
The compulsion is of course, the meager income of the family, who cannot afford to even feed the children if they do not work, and besides this a lot more comes into play for creating this unhappy situation. Our Governmental agencies, private agencies and NGOs, often shout from rooftops regarding this menace of child labour. This is a menace is accepted by all and sundry but, by shouting about it and passing legislations for it, we do not reach anywhere near the solution of the problem. No one has, as yet suggested some solution of the problem. When it is amply clear that, the children work to get their basic needs fulfilled, no one can say that, it is wrong.
The practical approach to the problem would be that we attempt to find some means for providing for them, and then, the children can be forced to attend Government schools. In the absence of a practical alternative arrangement it is no use just shouting about the problem. I personally feel that the Government should first provide for such families by means of subsidies, free ration and free education. Only after such provisions are made, and the Government gets the confirmation of the solution working smoothly and honestly, can we expect children to get out of the rut of working to earn a living from an early age when they should be enjoying and playing and of course, studying and learning.
Another point closely linked with the problem of child labour comes to the fore, when these young labourers grow up into suffering adults. They are absolutely hardened and most of them tend to become anti-social. Their feeling is, and rightly so that, why should they bother about any social norms, as, what has society given to them. With this attitude, when they enter the adult world they tend to take up professions that are tained with crime. They become, smugglers, hardened criminals robbers and murderers. With such children having lost their childhood at the altar of poverty being to believe and rightly so, that in this world what really counts is riches. With this forethought, they enter the world of crime, to become rich and enjoy. Thus we may say that these criminals, are usually the creation of unhappy childhoods. So let us understand that, child labour is not an isolated problem that has to be dealt with as a single problem but, it brings in its trail a host of more complicated problems which are the offshoot of this one. The biggest problem that follows the problem of child labour is the creation of a force of criminals, and thus an increased crime rate.
The only practical and feasible solution to this problem of child labour which can be conceivable in the present scenario is provided necessitis to the families and making free education compulsory for all children. Before providing the essentials, no one can tell the poor that they should not allow their children to work, for, if they do not work, who will feed them isn’t this a pertinent question.
Child labour is not a problem that can be tackled by just talking and debating about it on various platforms. Neither can it be dealt with by making it illegal, as, no law can ban a person big or small from earning his bread. All this drama will not be able to fill the hungry stomachs of the poor. We must deal with the problem with a more practical approach and provide what the child earns for. I am sure no child does this labour for fun. It is their necessity which makes them work. No one can deny that, fulfillment of necessities has to be tackled before doing anything else. When the necessities are provided for, I am sure that, the problem that is defying a solution will automatically get solved by itself. Let us all get together and pledge to make the Government and other agencies take up a more authentic approach to this problem, and, I am sure, a solution will be at hand.