A well rated TV channel has been airing dramatic pictures of instances of child labour, and we all agree that child labour should be banned as it goes against the essence of human dignity.
Then why have I been so disturbed by some of the stories and in particular the one of the little Mania?
This little child has nowhere to go if he stops working at his dhaba. His whole world will crash. His huge deformity will bring endless taunts and without his work he will have no shelter, no food and not even his surrogate family.
There are many many Manias who will suddenly find themselves alone and lost. Mania did want to study but circumstances shattered his dreams and though he has a right to education enshrined in a constitutional amendement, the law executors cannot find the money to make sure it gets to the likes of him.
True child labour should be abolished, but what are you going to replace it with particularly for children who have no homes to go back to, or whose parents can barely feed the siblings that are still there.
My work on the field for the last six years has taught me that things are not quite how they look and making laws without keeping the human factor in mind is more dangerous than the prevalent situation, however abysmal. Kids like mania will roam streets, steal to feed their hunger pangs and then find themselves branded as thiefs or bad elements. The number of working children is staggering, and a month down the line when the ban comes in force they will have nowhere to go.
Has anyone thought of mechanisms to get them back home, if home they have, or to give them a safe shelter and three meals a day; are there schools where they can learn or does the powers that be expect small organisations to do the job while they bask in the glory of having passed a great social law. Organisations like us are constantly trying to survive and prove that we are not crooks. But we also are the ones who open our hearts and meagre resources to anyone who is hurting. But how much can we do?
And who will bell the cats a.k.a the professional, well educated, well connected people who employ so many children in their homes and sometimes treat them in disgraceful and terrible ways while nodding their heads in public places and parties while someone disparages the practice of child domestic servants.
And last of all, has anyone looked into the number of little children just a walk away from where we sit comfortably who are taken out of school to look after their siblings while both parents work, maybe to build that extra room we need?
mybe little mania will find someone after his national TV debut, but what about the other little manias who can barely comprehend what awaits them.