Some moments of our life are unforgettable. I think yesterday I had one such moment. It was hard-hitting and indeed really disturbing.
I saw small children selling dusting cloths at a traffic signal. They were 6-8 years old. They looked very weak and depressed. It was a painful sight. One of them was crying and begging people to buy his stuff. I felt ashamed as I could not help him. I wish I could quickly pull out a 50 rupee note and buy couple of those and make him feel better. But I could not get down as I was travelling in my office bus running with a tight schedule. As the bus passed that point I thought to myself that those children had no way out. Perhaps they were forced and horrified by adults who supervised them. Those little hands made for toys and pencils were used as innocent means for making some easy money. These brutal and tragic realities on Indian roads would shake anyone who cares to observe them carefully.
They were deployed to do what their parents or caretakers were supposed to do. Across India children as used as cheap labour by robbing their fundamental right to education. And without basic education they end-up being beggars and not choosers. This is because those adults insulted their childhood and bystanders kept looking at this apathy with disinterest and sometimes even disgust.
Cleaning India is important but not at the cost of ignorance towards burning issues like child labour and exploitation of children. The dusting cloth might help cleaning the dust on TV screens but what about the dirt which we are creating by disowning such kids who helped us in keeping our TV screens clean.
If there can be a movement to clean the evil of child labour from India, we won’t feel ashamed to look at our own children. May be something as simple as allowing police officers standing at the traffic signals to report/punish child labour signals.
We don’t need corporate CSR accounts to make this happen.