Kids toiling hard to earn three square meals a day; admn remains a mute spectator | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Kids toiling hard to earn three square meals a day; admn remains a mute spectator

punjab Updated: Jan 12, 2014 20:03 IST
Mehakdeep Grewal

The royal city, which is known as the education hub of the Malwa region, has hundreds of children who are toiling hard to earn three square meals a day.

The tall claims of the government to abolish the illegal practice of child labour have fallen flat, as in one of its most developed city, there are many children who instead of studying in schools are slogging in the streets collecting garbage, washing utensils in eateries, working in workshops and petrol stations.

While this city has fulfilled the dreams of many children and given them an opportunity to become qualified professionals, there are many who still long to see the gates of schools, wear uniforms and read books. The little children, all under the age of 14 years and some even as young as four years, are forced to work in gruelling shifts.

Most of these children are aware that they have been deprived of the right to childhood, education and to the joy of being carefree.

Ask these children about their dreams and their response is usually cold that they do not care about future any more as they are just too busy trying to earn enough to buy some food so that they and their family members do not go to bed hungry.

The situation continues to grow grim as in private homes, where children have been employed as domestic help mostly under the age of 14 years, a mutual consent between the children, their parents and the employers have developed.

The severity of the problem can be gauged from the fact that even in education institutes there are young children working in cafeterias.

Most of the employers find it justifiable to employ children as domestic help. They defend their act by citing vague reasons like, "We provide these children with shelter, food, security and good wages which otherwise they wouldn't have access to."

There is no weekend or holiday for these children, as they continue to work hard in inhuman conditions and often they are subjected to verbal and physical violence by their employers.

Meanwhile, when the deputy commissioner G K Singh was contacted on the matter, he took refuge in the contention that abolishing child labour was a herculean task that cannot be done single handedly.

Singh said, "Everybody, including non-governmental organisations, educational societies, workshop owners and people from all walks of life need to come forward and rescue these children. There is a need to build more infrastructure in order rehabilitate them. It is long process."

Speak out:

MS Bindra: Pharmacist: Child labour is big problem in India and it will take years before it is eradicated. With increasing population, the problem is worsening. Despite adequate laws, people continue to exploit children. The only way to save the children is by ensuring that they all are educated.

Azad Komboj: Banker: Nobody wants to force their children into making a living at tender age. However, due to rising poverty there seems no way out for families. To prevent child labour, law should be implemented in right way. Socialism must amplify with proper awareness on the issue.

Nishu: Housewife: The problem is due to unawareness among the parents. Parents force their children to work as labourers. It is essential that parents who force the children should be held guilty.

Kiran Kaur: Housewife: The problem is that we have adequate laws but unfortunately our administrators fail to implement them. Children work right under the nose of administrators yet they do nothing about it. People have become insensitive on the issue.