October 21, 2006

What shall i do now, sir!

I am Santosh, 13 years old boy. I used to work in a road side hotel, but the other day the hotel owner told me that I can not longer work in that hotel, for that matter any other hotel, restaurants or home, as the govt has banned working of children at these places. I must be happy, you may think. Yes, I indeed was. I never wanted to work. I wanted to go to school as Shainky bhaiya, at whose house my mother works as maid, goes. But there are five more mouths to be fed at my home and that’s why apart from my mother, who works at few houses in the officers colony near our slum, and father, who works as daily wage laborer, I and my younger sister, all of 10 years, who helps my mother in her work, used to work. But now, after this ban no body is employing us any more. The earning hands in the home have reduced. And it is becoming very difficult for our family to survive. Should I be happy?
Just because we are poor does not mean our parents don’t love us. Any damn living being loved their offspring. We work not out of love of it, rather necessity of feeding family members drives up to hotels and other work places than to school. This ban, I must say, like few other govt initiatives (like reservation for OBCs; 100 days of mandatory work in rural areas etc) stems from right intention but the execution steps are misplaced. They are working on symptoms rather than the disease itself. Do you think after they had enforced the ban I am going to school? No way. I am trying to persuade the hotel owner to let me work in the hotel and in a day or two we will go back to work. Nothing solid or fruitful will come out a ban like that. With a ban how are they ensuring the enforcement of the same. With time this will become just another govt fad. Somebody was mentioning the getting primary education is my right as an Indian citizen. Oh my right? You said I am being cynical? Well if stating facts makes me cynic, then yes I am being one.
Okay, let’s analyze the problem, possible solution, govt’s intention and execution.There are few instances where govt.'s intention behind implementing a policy is good but the policies , in these cases only address the symptoms of the problem than the problem itself. Like 100 days guaranteed employment in rural areas. This does not address the real problem of unemployment and unemployabilty but is rather short sighted solution for above problems.Similary in my case all we need is access to education, health and learning of employable skills. Once these are provided they no longer need to ban child labour. If that is done there would not be any child around free to employed in these trades. All that i, my family and others in my situation need is these basic life supporting plans and execution and not the ban on child labour.

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