Written By Dev Agarwal (Grade 6)
Have you ever wondered who makes those fireworks that light up the sky and bring joy to us? Do you know who are the hands behind sowing the rice we eat or making the cosy carpets for the floors we sit and sleep on? Well, that is what we are going to explore in this article.
Let’s begin with fireworks. I am pretty sure those who are from India would know about fireworks. They are usually lit up during the festival of Diwali. For those who do not know about Diwali – it is an ancient Hindu festival, also known as the “festival of light’ celebrated in autumn every year. It is celebrated with much enthusiasm, especially all over India. People burst a lot of fireworks on this day. Do you ever think about who makes those fireworks? 90% of fireworks in India are made in various factories situated in a town called ‘Sivakasi’ in Tamil Nadu state. In Sivakasi, there are 100,000 labourers, of which 45,000 are under 14. That means out of every 100 labourers, 45 are child labourers working in those fireworks factories. Further, the worst part is that these children work there without any wages.
Now let us see what the scenario is in the carpet industry. There are two types of carpets – Machine made carpets and handmade carpets. Handmade carpets are considered premium compared to machine made carpets. The price of the handmade carpet can range between INR 3 thousand to 10 lakh, sometimes even more (depending on quality and fabric). Most of these carpets are made using child labour (kids under age 14) because their hands are small so that they can get more precision. Most of the handmade carpets are made in Jammu and Kashmir. These kids also work there without wages.
Now let us see what is happening in agriculture. Each one of us eats food and grains grown by farmers. Now you might have assumed that farmers are primarily adults, and this is their profession and livelihood. However, you will be astonished to know that the agriculture sector accounts for 60% of India’s child labour. That is about 40,34,000 children! Of those children, 62% are boys, and 38% are girls. These children are primarily unpaid workers by their families. They do not go to school; they are just sent to farms every day by their family members to help them in farming. Hence kids are left with just one option, continuing farming as they grow old, killing all other future career possibilities. Working in agriculture is hazardous for kids, particularly in the rice paddy fields. They get many waterborne diseases. Further, dangerous reptiles and insects exist in the rice field, such as cobras (poisonous snakes) and scorpions.
Now the question arises of why parents first allow their kids to become child labourers and push their bright future into a dark dungeon. Why they sold them into slavery? Well, it is not their choice. When a poor family is out of money or running low on money, they reach out to “local lenders” to borrow some money. After 2-3 months, the lender returns and asks for his money.
In most cases, the family does not have the amount of money which needs to be returned. In that case, the lenders give them two options. Either they will call the cops and get the family head arrested, or the family will give the child to them, the child will work for the money lenders, and whenever the child has paid off the debt by working free for them, they will return the child to the family. However, in reality, the debt never finishes, as money lenders keep adding interest to the capital borrowed by the family. Further, the child is not kept with the same lender forever, and they sell the children to other lenders as slaves too.
This is a very critical issue to address for any nation, as with prevalence of more child labour, the future of the country is also leading to darkness. We need to take appropriate action to reduce this practice in society.
However, first of all, we all should boycott all such products which have child labour involved in them, and also create awareness in society about the negative effect of child labour.
Featured Image Courtesy – Voices of Youth