About The Author
Vijay D’Souza hailing from Kanajar and is currently pursuing his Ph.D at the University of Wolverhampton, U.K. He is the regular visitor of Mangalorean.com and has come forward to contribute his articles on this website.
Man has learned to land on the moon, go deep down the ocean, forecast the weather and fly to stars to start a life over there. What?s wrong with the world we are living? We have helped to generate enough awareness about how we should treat animals and what all the rights our pets have. It?s all good but if we glance on humanity itself there is enough indicators to show that we have fallen from grace on all moral grounds.
Today India is in a very strange position. On one hand we laud ourselves for the recognition we?ve gained through our steady economic growth. Leading countries in the world have finally noticed us for our ability to lead ourselves and understand our interest towards progress. Together with the respect we have for our long held peaceful political stance and current economic boom, India motivates itself towards reaching the goal of being s superpower by 2020 or so. Does superpower means just better economic growth, more technological advances, better infrastructure, and self sufficiency only in material terms? I am sure progress in above mentioned areas would offer some leisure?s in life. Probably one day an average Indian would be able to go to bowling alley, or a fitness centre, or head to places to socialize or involve activities of self indulgence. May be an average Indian would be able to go holidays and not just work, work and work. Probably we might be able to live without heeding to cultural pressures. May be our system would evolve so much so that a daily wage labourer from my village would be able to go to pub or any such place and ask for a drink and no one would sit and stare at him in disbelief. May be we would all be equal at least in monetary terms. Don?t you feel elated just thinking this? I do and that is what bothers me. Let?s get a little bit practical shall we? I am neither an economist nor a social scientist but deep down inside I feel there is something wrong.
A section of the population which is dearer to my heart is young children. Huge numbers of children in our country suffer to make their ends meet because of their less fortunate backgrounds. Just remind ourselves of the children who either beg, or work in hazardous conditions such as firework industries. Even children who work in our local hotels and restaurants do not enjoy better pay or stay. These children suppose to be India?s future. We are fortunate to have brought up in good families thanks to the toil of our parents and their sacrifices. What if these children too could get a chance to dream of success and social status we enjoy today? Imagine an India where no child would need to work. Or else when they grow up their children too would be subjected to face similar fate as their parents have gone through. I have seen it this happening at least to the current generation. We can?t blame it on their parents for obvious reasons.
Its not that nothing is being done in this regard but whatever is done is not enough. May be in 20 years time India will have better infrastructure, sustained economic growth, higher literacy rate and more civic sense. But what would happen to these children who will be adults by then. They would be lost in new India giving rise to social inequality and al its drawbacks.
According to Unicef (United Nations Children?s Fund) in India out of its population of 1.03 billion an estimated 400 million are children between 0 and 18 years of age. Even though acceleration in economic growth has made India among the 10 fastest growing developing countries the country?s per capita income remains low and 26 per cent of the population live below the income poverty line. It says between 1991 and 2001, India?s literacy rate rose from 52 to 65 per cent; school attendance rates among children between six and 14 years touched 79 per cent in 1999; and some 83 per cent of households are fully covered with access to drinking water. According to Government sources the estimated figure of working children was declining and was at 11.28 million as per 1991 Census.
Though these figures might offer some solace still we are miles away from reaching our goal of being a developed country. Lack of education has been a big hindrance in creating awareness amongst underprivileged people. In our country literacy doesn?t even mean minimum basic education and drop out rate amongst children from these backgrounds is high and has been a problem for education authorities. According to Unicef literacy means percentage of persons aged 15 and over who can read and write. We do not know for sure what percentages from this group do have basic education. Here by basic education I mean minimum education which could empower adults to think rationally about them and their children?s well being. Unless responsible citizens take it on themselves and discuss and motivate these people and encourage them to enrol their children to schools and also make them aware of the state benefits we will never reach there.
The evaluation of the existing National Child Labour Projects (NCLP) in the country conducted by independent agencies has reported that the communities have welcomed the opening of the NCLP schools. Given the fact that more than 60% of the children in NCLP schools are actually children withdrawn from work indicates that success of any such programs. There exist opportunities like the Grant-in-aid scheme offered by Ministry of Labour, voluntary organisations are being financially assisted to the extent of 75% of the project cost, for taking up welfare projects for rehabilitation of working children. I was amazed at the amount of money being collected by BBC in their annual Sport Relief program for the needy children in developing and underdeveloped countries. Members from the Royal family and Prime Minister Tony Blair and other celebrities offered their time and urged people to donate. Imagine if it happens in India and on an average all of us chip in with say just one Rupee, 100 Cr isn?t a bad sum to start with.
In our country where we just couldn?t waste any available resources towards this noble cause you would be surprised to know that Department of Women and Child Development under Ministry of Human Resources and Development have already blacklisted six NGO?s for their suspected misuse of funds. Why do we simply observe Children?s day when we don?t attach any importance to it. Patriotism doesn?t just mean to be ready to die for your country. Striving for the progress and development of less fortunate fellow citizens should be valued at equally high esteem.
Author: Vijay DSouza- U.K.