Guest Contributor Trivikram Muralidharan is a bibliophile and an Engineering student who is keenly interested in Artificial Intelligence. He believes in spreading compassion through tech and conducts seminars on building chatbots. Trivikram throws light on the social issue of Child Labour.
Take a minute before you continue reading this article to fully understand how gifted you are and to fully appreciate the extent of the freedom that you unconsciously enjoy, and sometimes exploit.
Now that you are done with that brief moment of introspection, it’s time for a little bit of retrospection of the recent past. Take a look at the graph below.
Even though these statistics was worse in times prior to today, the rate at which child labour is decreasing seems to have reached a saturation point.
I will be restricting myself to India throughout the rest of the article (mainly because of the fact that I am an Indian).
Consider the case of Diwali. I haven’t seen a more fitting case of hypocrisy in this nation. It is, supposedly a festival of lights, joy and fun. The part that they missed out is that it’s a festival of lights, joy and fun… for some. I have read many news reports about the most nimble and malnourished pair of young hands hard at work in dark and dismal factories filled with toxic chemicals that compose what we call fireworks all for the sake of earning a meager amount of money.
An industrial town called Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu is the central hub for fireworks manufacturing in India. It is also a hub for child labour. Regardless of the umpteen number of laws, that have not had revisions for several decades since they came into existence, child labour has not yet been completely alleviated from this place even though there have been several crackdowns over the past years. I find this kind of half-baked implementation of the law that to be one of the major causes of ineffective results.
Even though the general public is aware of this, they buy firecrackers nevertheless and therefore become indirect contributors to child labour. This is just one example. There are several more in multifarious and hazardous industries throughout the nation.
I know what you might be thinking at this moment : “This is just another rant similar to the hundreds that we’ve already read. What’s the whole point of even reading it further?” But that is exactly my point. I implore you to see the fact that through so much exposure to suffering and violence in this world, we are becoming numb to further exposure. We seem to treat them as if they were indifferent news and with an attitude that spells out “As long as I’m good, why must I care?”
Although the information reaches a vast majority of people in this nation, not many, regrettably, care. All that we do is to spend one or two minutes in deep contemplation about how evil the world is and shed a sympathetic tear or two towards the sad fate of the downtrodden and move on with our daily duties and start pondering on the menu for dinner.
We are forgetting what it means to be human, what it means to be compassionate and what it means to be in a democracy where the country is not ruled by one or two persons but by each and every citizen. If each and every citizen, nay, even if 25% of the people in this nation join hands to achieve a collective cause, only then will we have truly realized what it means to be democratic.Why is it that we always tend to show how united we are only when we are threatened by an external source? Can we not apply the same to our own domestic and societal issues?
I see so many debates being conducted on the issue of child labour and other social evils. What angers me most is that a public forum for speech, such as a debate, is being used only for purposes of eloquently addressing an audience for one or two hours and is not being used as a tool for collaborating and taking decisive action that will greatly benefit the society in any way. School children are asked to participate in debates and elocutions with the goal of winning the contest and not with the goal of making a change in society.
If we mould our children purely towards the rat race and with ideals that all point towards the profit motive, will they not become the middlemen who exploit the downtrodden tomorrow? Will they not become the heartless beasts that have no empathy whatsoever and teach the same mistaken paths they took to their offspring? Will they not form the crux of the circle of societal evils that a few of us are trying so desperately to dissolve today?
If child labour is still prevalent in society today, it is not purely because of the fact that the sufferers are not sufficiently educated. It is primarily because the educated have no sense of morality or empathy whatsoever. We scream about the youth of India being her future. I for one see a very bleak future if this plague of child labour continues to rear its ugly head in the days to come. Let us collaborate and rid the world of this social evil!