Response to Child Labour

Dear Editor,
There lies no doubt that child labour forms one of the greatest evil in that society which dares to claim itself as “civilized”. It forms the urgent duty of all citizens to protest against it. But hard reality of life and principles/values often do not meet on the common ground. For example, books and value-based education asks us to be brave, upright and confront the evil lot. But if a bunch of potential rapists chase a single woman in the dead of the night with not a single cop in sight to ask for protection, the lady holds no other option but to make a hasty retreat and run for life and dignity. But our “morally upright” friends refuse to accept these hard realities of life and far from taking up the responsibility of a single child labourer, instead try to belittle the “sponsors” of all sorts of child labour! Are these people, confined in their own created cesspool of mere theories and theories, remain a bit enlightened about the practical bitterness of poverty-stricken life? No parent send their children to toil physically after dropping them out from schools out of pleasure. Rather the pangs of hunger compel them to do it. Yes, by taking advantage of the utter helplessness of the poor parents and their vulnerable children, if the vested interests severely beat and exploit the downtrodden child labourers; we should not spare their masters or employers.
But what about the areas where child labourers are not engaged in a life-threatening dangerous industry or not get thrashed up! Today it has become a common feature in the marriage or birthday functions to recruit children as “jokers” or “Santa Clause” or “Royal Guards” so as to “entertain” the guests! Apparently it reflects a very bad taste of the hosts and it is definitely nothing but an exploitation of poverty of the children! But on the opposite side of this “immoral picture” resides the hard fact of reality. Suppose one fine day these children were not recruited by any host of functions as all got possessed of values and principles that particular day! Obviously they would not bag any “job” on that day. Now what would they eat on such a day! Moreover many children might be orphans with not even a poor father or mother in their midst to provide even a grain of rice! Will the “conscience-bearers” of the nation come in aid and offer them even a biscuit on that particular day! Will the State or Government of the day ensure food for them! What would the helpless do if all avenues of child labour get closed for them! Yes, it might sound a bit harsh, but this is the practical reality of life which our “morally upright” friends simply refuse to acknowledge. Just because the hosts recruit such children in functions, at least they manage to survive the day unlike our salaried friends who would not suffer a pay cut of even a paisa if they bunk office a week for sheer pleasure or a trip outstation. And what would a father-less girl with an ailing mother do to feed herself and her mother! Which Government would offer her food or job? Rather they manage to sustain themselves by working as domestic workers. Yet the impractical brigade dares to project themselves as residing on a “higher moral ground” by taunting mocking and abusing the recruiters of such children as domestic workers and even display the audacity of boycotting their homes! Instead of sermonising all and sundry, why don’t they ask the child domestic workers to stay at home and provide them with their daily ration of foods and medicines! Neither the State looks after the hapless lot nor our self-declared moral guardians. Rather the “rich” ladies recruit the children as their “domestic help” or “caregivers” of their babies, thereby indirectly helping them to sustain. And if the recruiters do not physically/mentally torture them or exploit them ruthlessly by taking advantage of their poverty or vulnerability; then they are doing a noble job, might not be ethically, but in hard practical context. Not these sympathetic recruiters, but the irresponsible theoretical “moral folks” actually need severe condemnation and boycotted from limelight who far from feeding even a slice of bread to the starved children, try to ensure that nobody also succeeds in offering them bread at the expense of their service! Not even half a hand to lend in support, yet pouring diesel to put out fire of hunger in their stomachs — all in the name of “morality”!
Indeed no condemnation will be enough for these escapist “sermon delivery” folks.
Kajal Chatterjee,