“The child is the father of man,” said William Wordsworth, for it is the experience of our childhood that cast their shadow on our future. This is the reason why children are imparted noble values and virtues, so that they can grow up to be good and responsible citizens of the country. By making them work in this tender age we are not only destroying their future, but also playing with the destiny of the country.
It is indeed unfortunate, that we find children being forced to work, to make out a living. Thus the hands that should be used for study or play are used for hard manual work. Their gentle and impressionable minds, which ought to imbibe good and noble qualities, are exposed to the vagaries of the world. It is indeed a pity to see those toil and shoulder responsibilities, which are far more than their tender shoulders can bear. It is thus a childhood wasted which but comes once in their lives.
They are weak and undemanding making them susceptible to exploitation. They are made to do menial and at times even hazardous work, without proper compensation. Thus it is normal to find them working in the agricultural sector and in the small factories making fireworks and chemicals. They often risk their lives just to keep their body and soul together.
So tragic is their condition, that in the prime of youth, they are but a physical and mental wreck. Their frail body suffers from many ailments; making them appear old .Youth seems to have bypassed them altogether.
Their personality and attitudes reflect their survival instincts, which quite often take them to crime and other antisocial activities. The Chota Rajans, the Dawood Ibrahims and countless others, bear testimony to what deprivation of childhood can bring about. Thus instead of growing up to be law-abiding citizens, they become a threat to society.
Realising the gravity of the situation the government has banned child labour, making it an offence under law. It is, however, unfortunate to see, that it is not effectively enforced, as it should be. The reason could be that while law has been made, there is no provision for the child, to cater to his basic needs like food and shelter. This therefore amounts to paying lip service to this evil that continues to gnaw into the vitals of our society.
No ban can work, unless we can ensure that they are provided with food shelter and education. This would not only bring back their childhood, but also secure the future of the nation, whose citizens they would one day be. If the nation is to be spared, the likes of the mafia dons and criminals, it must effectively ban child labour, ensuring at the same time that no child goes to sleep hungry.