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Is this picture of a civilised society ?

The practice of children doing manual work for earning bread is called child labour. It is a great social evil and is present mostly in the poor and underdeveloped countries. The Children work without pay in family enterprises, particularly in family agricultural plots. They labour as wage earns in small workshops, in factories and in the fields. Small under-nourished boys and girls work long hours seven days a week, for a pittance. Toiling in overcrowded, dark and badly ventilated buildings, they make or pack bottles, cigarettes, bidis, biscuits, sweets, textiles, fire works etc. Many little boys and girls work as domestic servants at very low wages. Working in restaurants and taking to shoe-shine work are very common practice amongst the children.

Child labour presents a grim picture of the socio-economic condition of a large section of our population. In a large overgrowing family, where there is hardly a square meal a day, the young child is compelled to go to work to earn bread. Working under hazardous conditions they start living a life of perpetual unhappiness and frustration. It is a tale of deprivation and longing. Poverty forces them to join the child labour force.

But perhaps they have no choice, as otherwise the entire family faces starvation. the issue, therefore, cannot be banned without any consideration for the lives at stake. We must first free the entire population from fear of want. Basic human needs such as food, clothing, water, education, and provision of gainful employment must be ensured for everybody. Till that is achieved, children should be protected from outright exploitation by enforcing the provisions of Child Labour Laws.

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