It is obviously good if the children study in schools and play rather than working in hazardous situations. However, India is a country where large number of poor people is living and children need to work to support their parents. 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 sanitation, basic education, health care becomes available 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.
I have read reports that Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar have earned more money from BCCI than Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Visit the interior areas of states like Odisha, West Bengal and Bihar and then you can find the difference. Disparity between the rich and poor must be narrowed. 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 our new Maharashtra government sets about mending the basics by totally forgetting empty rhetoric.