Today will be leaving for a vist of the Child labour project (mahaboobnagar) to have a first hand analysis of the developments there as well as the status of the conditions. Veeru (hee hee me) was the first one to have been with the ILO sponsored project for eradication of child labour. That was back in Sept’ 2002.
The ccondition of the child labourers in India (to that matter anywhere in the world) is worse. The little hands that work crave for a smell of the fragnance of Alphabets, a little opportunity to play and feel the childhood. I can recollect a 100 or even more encounters that made me weep on their conditions. (I used to chat with the kids for hours listening to their sufferings at the hands of the cruel masters. Some were paid a mere Rs. 1500/- p.a. while others had to work from twilight to midnight and others were fed only hand ful of rice that too rotten). As P.sainath a developmental journalist says statistics are dry and means of fund sucking tools for the govt. But of no use to the actual condition of the victims.
I recollect something like there are 3 kinds of lies 1)Lies 2) worst lies 3) Statistics…… Might b true
It was my Birthday ( June the 16th 2002) and I with my friends wanted to travel to my uncles who have migrated due to a very bad monsoon to the western part of Andhra Pradesh. It was a wonderful morning and we (5 of us me, shiva, Prahlad, kashi, Srikanth) were on our bikes and that was a wonderful ride. It took us some 3 hrs to reach the interior place with no proper roads. We had a gud lunch and the day went off well.
The next morning when we woke up at around 7:00 am we saw this beautiful sight of girls all around 9 years age walking in a row with white bags (made of the gunny bags usually used for carrying grains) I was amused and asked my uncle which school were they from. The answer has changed everything, my perceptions and my thoughts. He said “these bags do not go to school they go to work. ” Later on a detailed study was enlightened of the child labour prevalent in the district. Infact the highest in the country. The reason Hybrid cotton fields. Children are “cheaper”, and girl child is more soft and sober to press for work. Also theres these fads that spread for no reason. One such being Girls before Puberty are blessed and if they cross the cotton flowers male with female it would bare good quality of seeds.
When I came back after a sad Birthday revelation (but iam thank ful that I ever had an opportunity to know the facts and work for eradicating it) I hadd to discuss it with some of my close friends and we decided to work for the betterment of the same.
There was a survey in one Mandal some 40 villages and 11 thandas (hamlets) and an astonishing shocking results of the survey emerged, of children working and Non-school going in the age groups 6-8 and 9-14 years was found to be an astonishing 2160 out of which 5-8 years were 600. The data has further inspired to take up the issue first among them-selves and then with the authorities concerned. And the small revelation has lead to a large project that accomodates 1000’s of child labourers to turn them into relishing fun loving children who proved their creativity both at school and at the play grounds. Thanks to Seva Bharathi for actually taking up the project.
Today the project has 10 such bridge schools (meant to bridge the children irrespective of age into reggular schools after a years training) with over a thousand passing out P.A.
Estimates cite figures of between 60 and 115 million working children in India — the highest number in the world (Human Rights Watch 1996, 1).