August 15, 1947. Freedom. India was finally free from the long and dark era of the British rule. There was great hope for a new and prosperous India and the people were full big dreams and aspirations for an improved and better way of life where all citizens could exercise their fundamental rights and have their basic needs met.
2007. Where are we today? India has made great strides towards economic prosperity by encouraging foreign investment and allowing our software industry to flourish. Today you will find all brand of American, European and Asian products in the average Indian store, foreign made cars on the roads and even American and European stores in the big cities. But where are we in regards to taking care of India’s children – the children who will lead the country tomorrow? Has all this economic prosperity touched them in anyway? Today there are still nearly 300 million children without education in India. 49 million children are still working as child laborers instead of exercising their fundamental right to education. Just walk into an average home in India and chances are you will see a young boy or girl doing the household work. Walk into a restaurant and you will see school age boys cleaning tables and taking orders. Walk on the street and you see little boys and girls selling magazines and other items.
However, the middle class and the rich have gotten richer with greater disposable incomes because of the BPO & software industries. They can now afford the foreign cars and American products. And more of them can now afford to employ these children to do their chores for them. It’s almost as if two different Indias exist and the gap between them is only growing.
What is wrong with us? Is it the enormity of the task of eradicating child labor that we choose to ignore it? Or have we grown so accustomed to seeing child laborers that we have become insensitive to the situation? Eradicating child labor seems like a formidable challenge, but if each one of us did our bit no matter how small, we can decrease the incidence of child labor and help to ensure the future of our nation’s children and in doing so, our own.