Child labour in India

Posted on Posted in Gold Contributor, Participant News

Name:Roseanna Shanahan
Location:Roseanna Shanahan
Aiming for: Gold Award
About the Author:I am a 3rd year science student who has been involved with UCDVO for the past 3 years I have volunteered twice in India and I am hoping to stay in development in the future.

Child labour in India

Image below showing the Care and Share children participating in the Child labour rally in Daddy’s Home. Awareness rallies are part of the UCDVO project in South India. A topic is decided on, which in this case was Child labour. The staff, kids and volunteers work together to make placards, research the topic, make up chants and carry out a march.

India holds the number one spot in the world for being home to the largest number of child labourers. Official figures point to there being approximately 12 million child labourers in India however, many NGO’s estimate that the true figure could be as high as 60 million. If this estimate is true then every 7th child in India is working illegally and more than likely in harsh conditions that obviously have a detrimental effect on their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

When I look back at my time in India, one thing that greatly stands out in my mind is the obvious child labour that is present on Indian streets. I remember one incident in Delhi where a young boy stopped me on the street to sell me a balloon. This boy must have been about ten years old and he reminded me of my young brothers at home. This boy had relatively good English and he was able to talk to me fluently. It is really hard to know what to do in this situation. Many people say not to engage in a situation like this as to buy something from a child is just encouraging child labour. However I spoke to him for about two minutes and I decided not to buy the balloon. I instantly felt bad for doing this but at the same time I didn’t think it would be right to buy them. Did I do the wrong thing? Maybe the boy was at school and he works in the evenings to help his family by bringing extra income home or for all I knew he could have been in a child labour ring and none of the money would be left in his pocket. It is upsetting to see the children on the streets working. Kids should be in education at that age so that they are getting the best chance at life, so they can go on to study or work in an area that they are passionate about and above all break the circle of poverty.

Nonetheless child labour is a massive issue and efforts need to be made to create awareness of it. On the 2016 UCDVO South India project we focused on this social injustice issue. One part of the project was to run an educational rally to create awareness of Child labour. Before the rally we showed some educational YouTube clips to the staff at the organisation which highlighted child labour in India, especially around the cotton and textile Industry. On the day of the rally three busloads of enthusiastic Indian staff, kids and volunteers from Butterfly Hill went to the other campus of Care and Share called Daddy’s Home. We brought placards and plenty of markers that would be used for the rally. When we reached the campus we all gathered in the TV room and the volunteers presented a slideshow on Child labour in India. We then went on to the most enjoyable part of the day, our job was to come up with catchy chants that would be used in the rally. We all sat around on tables in the classrooms of the school and the atmosphere was absolutely exhilarating. Imagine 60 young boys slamming the desk tops with their fists to create a catchy beat for our chants and belting out with all their might “Stop, Child Labour, Stop, Stop, Child Labour!” and “A child is meant to learn not to earn”. We continued to create chants for about half an hour and many of times we were hushed as our enthusiasm was echoing through the hallways of the school and disrupting classes . We then made colourful placards and paraded around the school grounds. People made speeches on child labour and some people sang. All in all it was a great day and the Indian community thoroughly enjoyed it.

This was a small event in a rural area of South India to create awareness of child labour but it managed to do so and encouraged the children and staff to learn more about this heart-breaking injustice that robs so many of India’s youth of a childhood and an education. Many countries have a long way to go before they can eradicate child labour. I really hope that some day child labour will cease to exist as to steal a childhood is a devastating thing. Children are the future and they should be given every opportunity to be educated and to own their futures.