Insaaf ki dagar pe, bachcho dikhao chalke. Aur hum chale. Chalte chalte yehan tak aa pahunche hai! ( Two lines from an inspiring Hindi film song, which has been played for long on the occasions of the Independence Day, August 15 and Republic Day January 26. An inspiring song exhorting children to tread the path of justice and righteousness as it is their country and they are the leaders of tomorrow).
This song used to enthuse us children like nothing else. Independence Day was special. The laddos distributed on the occasion tasted best. We trusted our leaders. We followed them. One by one they started disappearing. In their place, all kinds of fellows creeped in. The enthusiasm ebbed slowly. Ladoos disappeared.
The netas of tomorrow that the song promised were collecting garbage with bare hands. Some were scavenging. The 9% growth made many more millionaires but millions of paupers. Employment shrank. Labour was thrown on to the streets in world class mega cities to beg, steel or scavenge. No hand gloves, no masks on the nose, no shoes–bare hands in the filthiest conditions. In our childhood we didn’t see even one child doing this kind of labour. We heard our Prime Minister shower special love and care on children. He loved to be called Chaachaa Nehru. He died. Now nobody cares for the children. Nobody spares even a moment for their pitiable condition. Nobody even wants to know whether they are children from scheduled castes or scheduled tribes or backward classes or minorities. All they want is someone doing this inhuman work in the most inhuman conditions. They also keep them as slaves at their homes or farm houses, beat them mercilessly to death when they refuse to do begar for them.
What is the use of begar or unpaid labour being declared unconstitutional?. They go unaccounted as the police has not so far registered a single case of murder of innocent poor children found mysteriously dead by the roadside in colonies or dark alleys. The judges see it daily, the ministers see it daily, the bureaucrats see it daily, the society sees it daily–only to turn their eyes the other way. The Schedule Caste Commission sees it not, the Schedule Tribe Commission sees it not, the Other Backward Classes Commission sees it not, the minorities commission sees it not. I don’t know why I see it?
I feel a day will come when children in this country-Our India-will not be compelled to do such dirty job. It would not be too much to expect the government to declare the year 2011-12(Independence Year) as the National Year of the Children and ensure complete stoppage of employing children for scavenging and garbage handling. Machines must be ordered immediately for such jobs as is the practice in civilized world. Make Independence Day a day for celebrations for all children! It is very much within the power of this government and needs no more five year plans!!!