A working child in New Delhi, India.
His deep black eyes pierced right through my soul and disturbed me a lot. I don't think I am being very accurate in the description of my feelings. His eyes made me feel very guilty.
I just wonder if it is because he has a pair of beautiful eyes? Or is it because of the honesty that was spilling out of his face? I was forced to analyze all these deep within me. Or I must say that his deep gaze forced me to do that.
He looked about 12 to 13 years of age and was a grocery delivery boy who came that day to deliver some cold drinks in the peak summer heat in July at about 1 pm. I asked him if he went to school and he was very shy or reluctant in answering my question and said something like tomorrow/the next day was going to be the first day of school for him. So I asked him if he would still be working once he starts school and he told me that he would go in the morning shift to school and work in the afternoons.
|A child delivery boy in New Delhi|
He was okay with me taking a couple of his photos and later on gave me a shy smile also. When my relatives saw his photo, they recognized him and they all expressed the same feelings as I, that they felt like giving him lot of money or anything that will possibly bring a smile to his face. Well, the dignity on his face told me that if I were to offer him free money he was going to refuse it since it would not fall under his work ethics.
Based on my understanding, according to the Indian laws, if a child who is under 14 was found working, then such an incident was to be considered as child labor if and only if the work/occupation is hazardous. If the law doesn't unconditionally ban any kind of occupation or labor or suspected labor, it is imperative that it could easily be manipulated or it is as good as non existent.
Yet another news paper article I just found, says that the Indian Government has extended this law to consider who ever is under 18 to be a child and an employer has to be fined heavily and then the child has to be rescued and rehabilitated, educated etc. etc. I found it very confusing to process the facts from this article, most probably because the laws are not defined in a clear cut manner.
I have witnessed seemingly educated people employing children in their kitchens or around their houses. In most cities of India, the sight of working children is interwoven into the fabric of every day life that it is not even a matter of surprise or shame.
When ever I have questioned the parents of such children or confronted an employer who may have brought these children to the city from their native villages, I get this answer: If my child doesn't work, I won't be able to feed my family of (what ever number) with these many siblings, or the employer's answer would be, " I couldn't bear seeing the poverty in this child's house that I have given him employment so he can not only take care of himself but his family also a little bit. It is a plain fact that poverty and child labor go hand in hand.
There needs widespread awareness and highly publicized imprisonments or punishments to take place which will send a strong message to those who are employing children, but the crux of the matter is the lack of clear definitions on what exactly is deemed punishable under the law.
As a child, I remember seeing the government mandated family planning advertisement videos that used to play in the movie theaters before the start of a movie. I am not saying that the population of India was effectively controlled by this method. But I know for a fact that the it sent a message to the common man that it is something that needs to be considered for a better life.
I don't see similar videos or advertisements banning child labor any where in the current times in India. There has to be a massive aggressive psychological conditioning war that needs to take place on a government level about the bad consequences of this wrong practice.