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Abolishing Child Labor in India will be a mistake....

Hi, I guess it's been a long time since i posted anything here or anywhere else for that matter. My hiatus partly was induced by my work and partly by some personal reasons. anyway keeping the formalities aside lets hop on to the topic at hand... 

I know that the title of the post itself would have raised many arguments against it but please empty thy cup and hear me out a little patiently as I promise to be short, rational and certainly humane in all my arguments. 

Q) Why is it that we talk of child labour and abolishing it ? 
A) There is an age for everything and as far as a child goes the most appropriate thing for him to do is to learn, play, eat and sleep. A child is generally not expected to head on face the challenges of life and his livelihood needs are meted out by his parents/guardians. A child is tender and also mostly ignorant hence he is often harassed oppressed and taken advantage of, if let out on his own in this society. Child labor needs to be abolished to ensure that the future of these children is a brighter, safer and healthier one.

Q) Agreed, but why does a child need to do labour in the first place ?
A) Money makes the world go round,maybe, but for a child who is working money is needed to be earned to fulfil his bare minimum needs. I can say hopefully that all of us on blogger have been fortunate to have been provided with various comforts of life from the day we are born. Many however are not that fortunate. Hence the need to work, the need to earn a penny, the need to feed the stomach.

Q) Are you suggesting that by banning child labour we will be snatching from these children their means of livelihood? Their bread and butter?
A) I am not suggesting that, I am quoting that.

Q) But.. It's a child!
A) Yes, I am aware of the fact that it is a child and also have those feelings of sorrow for them but along with it I also ensure that I am not blinded by my sorrow. Having some experience with my family NGO, where in some street children were provided with funds to carry on education, i learnt quite a bit about them. here is a child who has the potential to earn and he is earning. More importantly he needs to earn. By banning child labour you are snatching from him the source of his bread and butter. Instead make laws which ensure he gets what he is due for and enforce it. What is the point behind making laws you cannot enforce? What is the point behind making laws where the oppressed is further oppressed ? What is the point behind abolishing child labor when the government has not ensured that each and every such child shall be taken care of by a govt. school or some other set up for these children. I fully support the notion that a child should not be working in his early ages and instead should be equipped with the tools that would help him be a better individual and lead a better life.. As long as that infrastructure and system has not been set in place, please do not let your humanity blind you. Infrastructure takes time to come up, coupled with the over-efficiency of our legislature and bureaucracy it shall take a lot more. There should at least an effort be made to ensure that these children are not exploited and treated fair by the traders instead of blindly cutting of their means to earn without providing them with a meaningful alternative.



Tushar Mangl said…
I agree with Sid, in many industries in India, child labor is another word for apprenticeship. Skills are passed on from father to son or from mother to daughter. We easily talk about abolishing child labor, but we never have any plans to abolish the root causes such as poverty and lack of quality education.
Education offers choice.

If my parent was an IAS officer, I would like to have the choice to become either an IAS officer or an engineer or a painter or a gardener.

That choice would come if I were educated. I would not like it that becoming an IAS officer were thrust on me either due to economic or social reasons.

Now the kind of jobs you are talking about are nothing like IAS officers. They are back breaking jobs and often lead to premature aging and disease. Most kids have to become apprentices in such jobs because they have no choice.

While it is easy to sit in air conditioned offices and type away like me, it is quite another matter when ones life is this apprenticeship.

That said it is probably not a good idea to just abolish child labour. That would lead to many families starving to death.

We need to make it possible for each child to get basic education. This will give them the choice to pick up the job of their parents (like Rahul Gandhi) or become something else (like I did and maybe you also).

But giving basic education to every child in itself is a tall order. When your family depends on your days earning to eat - you have two choices, watch them go hungry or go to school. I am sure most of us would pick the former so that our family can eat.
Priya Joyce said…
loved to see u bakk in action...
Si_Lee said…
@ lvs

Well that is exactly my point .. the policy makers and activists need to interact first with that child and his parents , then understand the economic viability of their "humane" cause .... Don't just say "abolish abolish abolish " as if it were a punchline ...
Si_Lee said…
@ Priya ..
Thanks .. though am not back in the true sense ... am hoping for a new blog and a new theme to it from the prev. one ... hopefully by feb end .. lets see :)
Si_Lee said…
@tushar .. thanks bro.. btw .. its nice to see contributions pouring in ... I guess its true !!! just wen u were about to give up on it ... it blossomed eh ?? nice work
Kartz said…
Ahoy there Sid... Good to read one from you.

Interesting thoughts. I quite agree. Caught up with Ramani Sir the other day and this was one of those issues he was talking about.

Anyway... Looking at it from their point of view, no one would wanna go hungry. One thing I have noticed - maid servants often bring their daughters to 'learn the trade'. If at all we wish to 'help', we can try providing good/humane conditions to work!

Akansha Agrawal said…
Well I quite agree with you, blind humanity simply does not help! Maybe some places where expert knowledge is required like the chemicals industry, there abolition of child labor is justified... but in general, well if they don't work and earn, how do we expect them to survive in a poverty-stricken world?

maid servants often bring their daughters to 'learn the trade'. If at all we wish to 'help', we can try providing good/humane conditions to work!
We can also help by providing basic education to them, right?
Kartz said…
@Akansha Agrawal

Yes, we can... But what we cannot do is wean them from what they want to do. Free will. Do I dare say, their will.
Richa said…
hey look who is sort of back, if i m right ;)

ryt u have ur valid point sid. we cant actually bare them from their bread n butter and as Kartz says, we can be humane to them, beisides, we can take one step ahead, and take up each one teach one.
we can provide them education, not financial help only, but we can offer them to devote an hour or two everyday..
n make them appear for exams. at least 8th or 10th boards.. this could make them help raise their stds of living..
Anonymous said…
Wonderful Sid !!!
You have made it right.. in the line of abolishing child labour there we need to show some concerns of the child's economic condition..
But what my concern is the working condition of the child.. because they are ill-treated and there is a chance they can go wrong.. so much things needs to be taken into account
Si_Lee said…
@ richa ...

he he .. yeah well i am only sort of back ... too much work these days .. anyway .. what u have suggested is actually very doable ... and @kartz .. at my aunts'places they have educated and made their housemaids literate .. so it all can be done ...

@akanksha and kanagu

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