Heritage of the dignity of labour

[ CI Mannou ]
One evening, while sipping a hot cup of tea, I remembered a trip of an unforgettable experience.
Nearly 20 years ago, on being assigned to implement the National Adult Education Programme, I conducted a survey to find out illiterate adults in the district. During an on-going survey, I went to a remote hamlet which was almost inaccessible.
On reaching the area, I entered into a hut with company of three persons where I saw a tragedy which remains deeply impressed in my mind. I saw children eating earth to satisfy their hunger.
I asked their mother why she was not stopping them. Her tearful reply shocked me when she said that she had nothing to offer them as her drunkard husband had left taking the cash she had earned.
I was also appalled to see the labourers working on farm lands for poor wages. With the little money they earned, they brought rice and cooked them with some salt sprinkles, and ate them for three days in a week; they went hungry for the remaining days. This was the fate of the poor labourers, deprived of basic needs for survival.
I had carved a soft corner for their situation and so with a helping attitude I went to the area the next day to offer them some cash. But I did not find the family and sadly returned. I had lost my faith in the philosophy of humanity. Sadly, in our county, dignity of labour was not respected. It was adopted as a concept, but not practiced in real life during those days.
In this context, I remembered a saying of Martin Luther, who said, “I dream of a country where my children will not be judged by the colour of their skins, but by the content of their characters and jobs.” (The contributor is a retired school principal.)