5 Cents on Child Employemnt in India

So Swaram posted on how her gas agency was employing children, I have always been a bit hesitant when it comes to opposing the child employment (note the use of word employment instead of labor). I have been a little apprehensive of condemning this practice specially in the Indian context. Here are the reasons behind my belief-

1- Lack of Social Security- In a country like India where social security mechanism are absolute zero, where a person if hungry might as well die of it without the government even batting an eyelid. In a country like ours, where if you are out of employment or a regular income there would absolutely be no support from the system. What should a child do? Do we have a system where a poor family if nothing else then is at least provided three square meals a day without being harassed? I know a lot of government scheme would be here, but practically we all know the schemes remain on paper.

2- Lack of Alternatives- So if a child from a poor background doesn’t work, what does he do? The education infrastructure for the needy in India is again in a poor state, the classes seldom happen. Facilities for the most part are absent, and there is a lack of direction on what they are producing. I believe that the basic schooling system in India is fabulous when it comes to educating a person for further studies (what primarily middle class does), but it lacks big time in making a child independent and employable. I mean when one passes out of class X or XII and if one wanted to work, there are hardly any opportunities or skills till then. Given the fact there are families to be looked after in the houses and earning hands fewer. I believe this is one thing which needs to be corrected. The answer to the question “School jaa kar kya karegi” should be more than “College main padhegi”. The children people of India deserve it.

3- Better Choice-
given the above two I feel that a child who started working early has made a better, moral and a worthy choice. If one doesn’t has anything to eat what are his alternatives, beg or steal. I find the children far more respectable and better human beings who choose the better option of hard work to achieve something, if nothing else at least an honorable survival. Every time I see a child on the traffic signal begging, I find a growing respect for the children who chose a better path to work. Given the fact that our government can anyways hardly do anything about both of them (except leaving the second child jobless accd to the child labor law)

4- Importance of Work- Somehow I appreciate the American or the so called western culture, where the children from almost all strata of society actually do odd jobs like cleaning the pathway of snow, cleaning the car, mowing the lawn, helping with grocery shopping and get tips for the work they do. I believe firmly that this develops two important qualities, a good work ethic in terms of all kind of work is good and secondly importance of money. I believe that in India the typical caste based culture still exist at large, where people consider some work to be as lowly and would not like them or their children doing it. Though this is very distantly connected to child labor or can be called child employment but I think that this kind of environment where children working should not be treated with pity but with respect for their spirit and hard work is really necessary for Indian mindset.

5- Failure of Law against Child Labor- The complete ban of children under 14 years of age would be a complete failure until the points 1 & 2 are addressed which are far from being met. Secondly it also makes an activity employing a child as illegal, which allows the employer not declare the child worker and also to cut corners and often the child worker doesn’t even get what he deserves for the work he has done. Also he missed out of what might be a structured and a long term employment benefits which might be available to other workers in the same organization

All said and done I do know that there are people who exploit children, and they might get into things which might be hazardous and have long term negative effects but then I also believe that the government can’t just create a law and then don’t provide them an easier approachable alternative. If they really want the law to be followed with the spirit then they should cancel the agency which employed the boy which had a gas connection, and identify why the boy was willing to pick those heavy cylinder instead of going to school and address the root, case by case basis. If they can’t address both the sides then may be they should leave the free markets to balance it out.

16 comments on “5 Cents on Child Employemnt in India”

  1. Swaram Reply

    First things first, even if I am nobody to plan their family, I want the ppl who can’t afford to take measures! Yes! How can u bear 10 children and complain u can’t feed them and then leave them on the road to beg or work somewhere?

    • Prats Reply

      @Swaram: Totally with you on this… I on a very very distant level appreciate Sanjay Gandhi’s vision on this too

    • Swaram Reply

      Prats, I do agree with one point u make here .. they are not begging or stealing .. they r working! But, in that case – the nature of work becomes so important rt! I don’t think carrying heave cylinders is good and the safety associated with it is my concern!

      • Prats Reply

        @Swaram: Yes the nature is work is important. Thats what my point is when I find the law a failure, since all children under 14 not supposed to work it allows a chance for ppl to employ them illegally and also denounce them of benefits they deserve. I think there should be a permissible organizations that can employ children and have a conducive work environment for them. Thus giving the children also an opportunity to earn the money they might really need.

      • Swaram Reply

        Sry for leaving so many comments!

        4 – I completely agree
        5 – U r so rt! We hv a major problem in tackling the root cause. We speak so much about female foeticide. I agree its horrible! But almost all those who belong to the poorer classes talk about dowry being the main reason. What are we doing to tackle that? Laws are made .. who is there to ensure they are doing what they are supposed to!

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  3. Shilpa Garg Reply

    Agree completely!! Though morally, ethically, theoretically Swaram is right but your thoughts have a practical ring to it. The kids are made to work (by their families) not to get luxuries of the world but just a square meal for the family!
    Sad it is, but that’s the harsh reality!

    • Swaram Reply

      Shilpa, I would still question why they can’t plan a smaller family! And I am def. being practical if I can pull a child out of an unsafe job 🙂

      • Prats Reply

        @Shilpa: Thats what my point is we all want the world to be hunky & dory but realistically things are different on the ground…Specially in a country like India where hardly any social support structure is present.

        @Swaram: You are correct on this one, but then a classification of safe & unsafe needs to be done and the child labor should be legalize.

  4. joe Reply

    Two important qualities, a good work ethic in terms of all kind of work is good and secondly importance of money……. agree on that.
    Something that is missing in our country.

  5. Reema Reply

    totally agree! I too have thought of work as a better option.
    P.S. there is a typo in the title.

  6. momofrs Reply

    Excellent points Prats.
    I agree with you completely.
    Couldn’t have said it better. Do you mind if I link to this post later?

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