I grew up in a nuclear family in a small city where I routinely helped my mom out with house work to help her get some free time which she could later spend with me. I had the best childhood possible and enjoyed the time I had growing up. I had loving parents who ensured I had the necessary things and skills to be an independent person.But many children in India are maybe being forced to augment the family income by way of helping out the parent’s at their work places or by having to work themselves in miserable conditions.
As urban India is being made aware of these ills , I do appreciate that children now are much more aware and conscientious when it comes to child labor and the fall outs of a stolen child hood. I used to blow up fire crackers every Diwali unfailingly without realizing that most of these were being made by children my age in Sivakasi ; but look at what awareness and public reaction to doing the right thing has done compared to a decade ago when I was a kid. The numerous news articles on child labor in Sivakasi, documentaries being made and their eventual public screenings leads to change. Widespread public boycott has lead to these small firms to adopt the economical thing to do: adopt automation and abandon child labor to some extent. Unfortunately don’t have the data to show by what percentage the involvement of children this dangerous job has reduced, but doubt that it is due to the introduction of any law cos despite the Child Labor (Prohibition & Regulation) Act being in place from 1986 , there have been only a small number of erring factory owners who have been prosecuted. I think the buzz word to convert these businessmen would be to show them the incentives involved in adopting automation not just zero risk of being prosecuted but also positive returns when it comes to the balance sheet.
But my worry is that what defines child labor, is a child’s wish to help his struggling family by right to work a criminal thought? I know the counter argument is there are subsidies and policies in place to help people with minimum subsistence; however there is a long process to get this assistance and it sometimes the delay leads to a question of survival. The child is faced with a real scary situation while probably being shown the hope of a rosy future at schools and shelters if he is lucky enough to have access to them.
The bridge to this gap is realizing that the business man what is best for his business , the child wants to dream and survive and that the lucky Indians realizing their bit by spreading the word about child rights only then will we truly be a youthful country.