Yesterday, i was travelling in the mumbai streets for some work. In a single day, i could see the act and effect of child labour on small school going children. First i was just waiting in the bus stop, saw couple of young 7- 8 year old girls carrying a big vessel of water on their head, in hot afternoon sun. With the weight of the vessel almost 25% of body weight of the child. Worse was they were walking barefoot and had to cross to the other side of the 3 lane link road. All that in heavy traffic. It was a real pity to see such kids doing cheap labour, instead they should be studying in schools.
The same day, i saw a young 10 year old boy buying gutkha( chewed tobacco) from a local pan shop. The pan shop owner without bothering just sold it to the fella after taking money. Some passerby caught hold of that boy, and made him spit all of it, and when the shop owner was asked bout selling gutkha to children. He said, " tereko kya karneka, usne paise diya maine becha" ( u mind ur own business, he paid money i sold it to him) . This is the awareness and responsibility of people around us.
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The problem is bigger than child labour, the core problem is poverty and illiteracy. I just happened to talk to some poor families, most of them complain that they don't have money, so they are forced to send their kids for meager labour. Many of them understand that kids should be studying , some are just plain ignorant. Kids are easy target for cheap labour. People can make them work whole day and can get away without paying them too. This kind of lifestyle exposes them to various abuses like tobacco, smoking, drugs at a very early age and there is no one to monitor them either. Its sad that in our country we always talk about economic growth, but what about the core problems that are plaguing our country, Povery, Illiteracy, communicable diseases, child labour, female infanticide etc.
I know there are lot of NGOs working on this issues, but there should be a centralised portal by government, where quick and correct action can be taken against these issues. And even i want to be part of the cause to curb these issues in our country.