Often it has been observed that children instead of studying and attending schools work in polluted and hazardous industries which cause health problems for them. Since large number of poor people resides in India hence parents send their children for work to support them. This situation is prevalent in agrarian societies for a long period of time. Many young boys and girls are very competent and they can combine work with studies. If you visit villages surrounding cities you will notice young girls performing some work and earning money. They also study well.
Until 15 years back, I must confess that I was unaware about the marijuana shrub which was growing outside our farmhouse gate. A ten year old boy had informed me about it. The boy was very smart, he could work in the fields, milk and ride the cows and buffaloes and even managed to clear examinations with good marks. When I was staying in community centre CGS colony, the son of our “presswala” used to assist his father but today he is a state civil service officer.
Children must be prohibited from working in factories manufacturing crackers or work places where they may inhale poisonous and fibrous (hazardous) material. They can support their parents until they become self-reliant. The film Boot Polish which revolves around this subject is worth watching. In the film Mother India young Birju was quite bright to be able to help his mother and frighten Sukhi lala”.
If the government takes initiative to improve sanitation, provide basic education, health care facilities then child exploitation will automatically vanish. When I was studying in 7th standard some of my school mates used to reach school by walking a distance of 5-6 km barefoot. They used to come first and second in the class and not me. Obviously, they also must have been working in the fields to assist their parents. Too much economic disparity exists between the rich and the poor which needs to be addressed on a priority basis.
Visit the interior areas of states like Odisha, West Bengal and Bihar and then you can find the difference. The government must take initiative to bridge the gap between the rich and poor which will pave way for inclusive development. It is necessary to provide basic amenities to citizens so that children will be relieved from assisting their parents and will learn and play freely. Let us hope the Maharashtra government sets about mending the basics by totally forgetting empty rhetoric.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)