If you see a child working

No… am not going to continue posting for another month. This is something I want to know about.

When  our gas agency delivered our replacement cylinder a few months back, we saw that the one who got it home was a very small boy – aged around 10-12 may be. Su immediately ask me to keep talking to the boy and went to get his camera.  I asked the boy about his schooling etc.. He said he was studying and did these odd jobs after school to add some income to his family’s! Now, whatz more shocking was that the boy claimed that he was 16-yrs old, which I am sure he was not!!!!!!!!!!!!! Su tried taking a pic hiding away from him, but he still would not raise his head and talk to us. All the time I was talking to him, he was looking down @ the floor and answering me. At last, he even shouted at us for delay in making the payment and said he had a lot of work to do. I think it was more to wait with the man waiting down.  Was he trained so well to do all these? Is this how they use child-labour – smart and intelligent way!!!!!!!

We immediately called 1098 and gave them the details including the name and location of the gas agency! We also told them we could send them a pic as proof which they could use.  They thanked (?) us for the info and told that they would take care of the remaining things ASAP and did not need the pic at-least then. We believed in them. We did call them back after sometime and they said they were processing it.

The same incident repeated the next time – a different boy this time, but the same story alright! And we again called 1098 and told them about it.

What did they do then? Did they really go and investigate and relieved those kids or did they just warn the company against it or did nothing?

Why am I rambling about this one today? Because, there is this small boy [again not more than 10 yrs of age] who works in the vegetable shop near my house and adores me! Seriously! If I don’t go there for a few days,  I am told he asks for ‘Kannada aunty’ 🙂  As much as we tried to dissuade him from working and told him he has to go to school etc.., we did not succeed 😦 His parents told me they could educate only one kid and since they were sending his sister to school, they could not send him.  Yes, they are sending a ‘girl child’ to school, which may not be so common in such scenarios and that is commendable! But what about this boy!!!!!!!!!!! I saw him carrying heavy weight today and pushing his cycle … he was probably delivering vegetables @ someone’s place.

Any of you have any pointers on what can be done? Have you ever called 1098 and felt that your grievance had been registered and most importantly acted upon?

116 Comments

  1. Swaru, I usually mind my own business.. sometimes, if its intolerable, I mention school and ask why they aren’t being sent.
    I mind my own business because, no one does anything. We had complained a couple of times and they threatened us saying we are trying to stop the families from making money to lead a better livelihood!! 🙄
    In Mysore, we were warned once not to meddle in others’ business… 😦
    Sad, but reality – mostly nothing happens unless self-awareness happens…
    Unless people stop employing kids, child-labour will be there! Sometimes, making ends meet, for 2 meals in a day takes priority over everything else… 😐

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    1. Pix, how long will we keep minding our own business kano? I agree if its interfering with a family.

      But when something like a CHILDLINE has been set up, it has been done for this purpose right! I would have agreed we might have been threatened too if we had gone to the gas agency. We immediately called 1098 though! Am sure the gas agency will not listen to us! But about these agencies which have been set-up keeping such things in mind!!!

      Also, many schools now have good mid-day meal schemes! The ones served by ISKCON .. I hv seen how clean, balanced and even tasty the meal is. Why not send kids to such schools alva?

      All said and done, you can’t make a 10-yr old lift a heavy cylinder, even if it means getting a 2-course meal!!! And what about his security??

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      1. I agree with what you say Swaru.. totally.
        But, this, the families need to understand alwa?
        The parents need to realise this and also the employers…

        We complained here in Bangalore and it didn’t work! Like I said, they told us to let it be.. my aunt then told the girl to stop working … we had to forcefully remove her from the job and then the mother came and fought with us! It was an ugly sight really! She was employed because she said she was 18 yrs old! Then, we came to know she was only 15!!!

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        1. Pix, the families will not! Bcoz, if they were understanding, they wud nt hv sent them here in the first place no 🙂 Some families may realize it later, but I think chances are remote.

          I understand 14 is the age-limit rt. So 15 is not somebody wud hv bothered abt?

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    2. Pixie I agree with swaram… how long will we mind out own bussines??? I have been told that too… have been told that I am heartless to their families by not employing them or threating the other people to not employ young kids but somewhere we need to take a stand

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    1. Divz, u do have a point there.
      But, I can’t believe reporters would not have seen kids doing all these jobs 🙂 How many kids deliver newspapers before they go to school?
      And when it comes to just 1 or 2 kids and not the wholesale lot about which the newspapers print in them, I am not sure if they will do anything about it! Can give it a try though .. thank u 🙂

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  2. I have not personally contacted 1098, but had earlier tried to register a complaint with a district collector about poor sanitation facility around the area we had our school- with pictures of the clotted drainage canal, the life around it et al (A lady used to sell idlis, idiyappams on the road side beside the canal). His response was, “You can very well seek the help of a NGO to get things done fast”. Well, as much as I can appreciate his honesty, I was irritated by his lethargic irresponsibility! So, we went ahead with those pictures, got an article published in a daily and things were cleared in a year’s time. So, lesson learnt: either seek the help of a NGO (individual complaints are not bothered much for), or seek the help of a genuine reporter from a local daily paper….

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    1. Did it have an impact that you actually had a school there RS? In that case, we may not stand the same ground here no 😦
      But, this is something positive. I think we should look for an NGO or a reporter! Thank u 🙂

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        1. Just find someone who works in the collector’s office, seek his help in fixing an appointment with the collector. Some responsible collectors do spend time in working hours. We met him in the evening after the working hours..

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      1. The school was not even named. It was our evening school, Swaram, and it was conducted in the backyard of my friend’s house. Nobody knew about it, except the people around the locality. And, no, we hadn’t mentioned about it in the article….

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  3. Newspapers like “mumbai mirror” might help…they take up these issues… but they dont operate in hyderabad…!! Like RS mentioned…why dont u contact some NGO … like the one we have here AASRA ..they are actively inbvolved in such things… I have no idea about NGO’s in hyderabad..mebbe u can google?

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    1. Ya Dido .. I know local newspapers here, but hv nt seen such things covered in them.

      I hd a lot of expectations from and trust in Childline. But, lets c. May be some NGO may be better.

      May be smile india?

      Ya .. google will hv a lot of details, hope we get an authentic one though!

      Thank u 🙂

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  4. In my locality I haven’t seen any Swaram… In Hosur I have seen a boy not more than 8-year old working in a hotel.. but didn’t do anything then 😦

    other than that I have seen few children selling Sundal in beaches but when I asked them.. they said they are going to school..

    still don’t know what I should do when I see working kids.. 😦 Is calling 1098 will be helpful???

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    1. I hv a doubt if 1098 helped Kanagu. Bcoz we did see the same thing happening again 🙄

      Our main concern in addition to age here is about the weight of the cylinder and security 😦

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  5. Its a sad scene, really…even when ppl like u attempt to make it known that there is a small child working, why there is no one to hear it or make an attempt to take those persons to task ????

    I am very glad that both u and Su think alike and take actions together…its not the case in many families…

    I really dont know – but may be you can try to contact some NGO who is working for the cause of destitute children forced into labour !!!

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    1. It really matters – when husband and wife think differently and not able to see the other’s point of view – it difficult to think in such a social angle. Thats why, I said that. 🙂

      So, did u contact a NGO, which Deepa said ???

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      1. 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Ums, got to do some ground work. First, I hv to check out from my old neighbours abt the gas agency – who comes nw for the gas delivery I mean, since we hv shifted nw! But ya, got in touch with two organizations thru friends, who have engaged themselves in some service activities 🙂

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  6. This one day I’ve been checking your blog so regularly and when I look its already 24 comments!!! not fair at all 😦

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  7. More often than not, in the cases of underage kids working in petty shops et all is quite normal. The parents consider it a relief that if another set of hands start earning bread, then their lives might just get better. I’m not blaming them to think like that, they are not educated themselves to know what it means to be educated. And you can only do so much like inform them about benefits of education and independence and why their kid needs to be educated. But you’re hounded with questions about their daily food, if their kid wont earn then who will substitute for that part of the money? It’s then you are left with no answer, because you can help provide better employment to only so many parents.
    And coming to the kid, one who has seen money in his hands, will definitely want to keep earning to see more money. That s how it works. Only some might be actually interested in learning but they too will be blinded by the bling of the note.
    What we do is, just have a little talk about how he is doing, if he is going to school, if he is having enough books, enough money for fees etc. We try to help some if we can, both financially and otherwise. If not then we just give him some goodies which probably makes his day.

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    1. Lively, I dnt think these kids, the ones I am talking abt here are so fond of the money they are earning. And even if u put ur kids to work to earn their daily bread, not with a gas cylinder no!

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      1. But how are you gonna put sense into the parent’s brain? When the authorities are non-co-operative. This is a LAW for heaven’s sake and we should get help from the concerned authorities, but what am I even talking about. This is our country. Oh right!
        *Goes wandering cursing the said authorities*

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      1. How many times have we come across such kids and people in the newspaper. Besides a ‘tch tch so sad is the state of our country’ we pretty much dont get anything, right? What s the point even?
        We’ve seen it in many movies, but all we do is protest against them or ban them, that they are showing only the downside of India!!! :-/

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  8. I completely agree with Pixie here. These kids are made to do these jobs with full support from their families. No one is bothered about their education and well-being as long as they’re making money to feed their family 😦
    I haven’t used 1098 yet. But your experience with them states the sorry state of affairs there. These people are brushing off the responsibilities they’re assigned, or who knows they might be a part of them too 😦 😦

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    1. Ofcourse Varsh. There’s no denying abt the family support. That is the reason I am not even talking about having a word with the family and letting them know what they are doing is wrong. Thatz why I need another channel 🙂 🙂

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  9. I have called 1098 once for a case of someone employing a 10yr old girl as a childs nanny in my own colony… I followed up and they said they have visited the house and the girl has been rescued and he girl is still working there 😦

    I wanted to call again but than decided to talk atleast once to the neighbour, they agreed that 1098 had called them and they had told them they will send her back ASAP and thats it, the only consolation now is that she goes to the govt school near our colony on mine and another families insistance, we pay whatever money is required for her education and to the family’s credit they are still paying her full salary even when she is out half of the day

    this is not an ideal solution we know but if the girl would have been sent back her parents would have sent her somewhere else to work and we wouldnt have come to know too… this was atleast she is getting education that she can use later in life

    Nothing in India works as it should… its a very very sad story, makes me so depressed when I think of all these kids working everywhere I see them… I want to reach out and do something but unfortunately cant do anything atleast most of the time 😦 😦

    When I am looking for maids there are so many girls who come to do work who would not be more than 12-13 yrs but claim they are 15-16 because they know otherwise they will not get the job… its heartbreaking to see all this happening

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      1. 🙂 🙂
        Oh u asked that neighbour and they answered .. nt bad!

        So, they do call people! But, that will not help rt Mons 😦 I thot they do more! Did u check their web-site? They say they visit the site and take necessary actions!

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          1. Exactly Mons. I agree we cannot complain since we did nt do something abt it. But, these ppl hv formed an organization for heaven’s sake and claim that they do it!

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  10. I wish I could help, but I have no idea at all. It is so sad, I thought Childline should have been able to help.. But I guess, people don’t take these things seriously. NGOs I am sure will be far more useful.. Hope you find one, and do post to let us know what happened..

    It is quite dangerous for that little boy to be carrying such a heavy cylinder.

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  11. NGO’s and newspaper is the best bet.
    I hate to sound hardened but have u considered 1 thing….some of these kids are not at all interested in studying…even if offered all facilities to study they play truant and roam around the streets smoking cigarettes and creating nuisance. Which is why their parents get fed up and put them to work.
    But have to agree abt 1 thing…….carrying cylinders and doing back-breaking work must be brought to attention.

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    1. U r rt Nance .. may apply to some kids. And the other thing is, even if they are put to work, shouldn’t the nature of work be considered too?

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  12. hello …..

    first of all, i don’t believe any much action would have been done .

    I’d once complained to the PFA about the way elephant cubs were tied in the temple. But nothing happened. I bet the mahout knew more about the elephant cub than me, but anyone could see it was in distress … but the mahout said that’s the only way to control the baby elephant and to mind my own business ….

    I don’t know if you have the finance / means, but maybe you could try sponsoring a child’s education … but it is a horrible world, even your generosity can be misunderstood and ill-used.

    I used to give my maid’s daughter my good clothes and shoes .. but finally, she started demanding new shoes and clothes, and every dress i bought she’d say she had the same … with that i stopped being generous with me things.
    I’d tried to teach her coz she was not so good at sudies , but then it became clear to me that she was not interested .. she was only concerned about clothes and impressing people … so, what can you do with them ? isn’t it better for their parents to save their hard earned money than paying for a kid who goes on flunking classes ? I’m saying this as they’d be finding it difficult to make ends as it is

    Maybe, you should contact an NGO .. they’d be more willing to work .. there is one in Hyderabad called Prajwala which works with delinquents and prostitution …. it is run by a lady Sunita Krishnan (http://sunithakrishnan.blogspot.com/) … you could try contacting them

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    1. Deepa, thatz exactly what I have written. We wanted to sponsor the boy’s education .. the one working with the vegetable vendor. But, his family was not ready for it! They wanted his money! Thatz when u need intervention.

      Also, letz look @ the big picture. I will sponsor one kid’s education. But there are many more like that! I wish God had given us enough to sponsor all of them, but we belong to a middle-class family 🙂 So, we need a solution – a generic one 🙂

      And about kids not interested in studies, thatz an altogether different story. We used to tutor our maid’s kids too and one of them was not @ all interested. We arranged for a different job-oriented course for him and did what suited him better.

      This is an altogether different scenario Deepa 🙂

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  13. this post makes me feel sad… the minimum we could do is the self realization and spread the awareness to people around us who are ready to listen… Unfortunately in our society majority doesn’t care to act unless they are personally affected.. I hope and believe there will be a welcoming change in next generation as they are in our hands… Let’s continue to spread the word and focus on building a better future generation… child labour is existing for so many decades and I will be happy if at least the percentage decreases as years pass by…

    congrats on the blog hits swaru…

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  14. Am glad Swar you did your bit…! I know its actually disheartening..to the core that kids have started enjoying this because they get paid and do not have to go to schools and be burdened with studying, exams etc…!There’s a chai wala near our office..where we go for our evening chais…a tiny kid of about 10-12 yrs old helps his father… I have scolded him several times..that he must go to school…and not do all this..he says…” nai madam..part time hai…aur maza bhi aata hai”…

    Some kids are forced due to circusmtances, while some enjoy doing this! It’s sad..I feel a lot of efforts are required..to counsel their parents…such helpline numbers be more effective and strict!

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    1. Oh u r rt Dew. Some kids love it. I stil feel getting a cup of chai with his Dad is atleast ok. Gas cylinders and delivering loads of veggies home 😦 😦

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  15. Thats horrible!!! I have seen small boys working like that.. there is a small boy coming for maid service to one of my relatives house.. His father told its not possible for him to send them to school.. I sometimes really doubt their intentions. They are getting money from their children to run house.. its enough excuse to not send them school. There are quite a few NGOs who take care of this but my aunt does her bit.. She spends an hour daily to teach them. They get notebooks and books and she teaches them 🙂

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    1. Vineeta, we used to tutor my maid’s kids too – 3 of them. Mainly bcoz I used to respect her – she used to struggle to make ends meet, but wanted all of them to study well and have a life different from what she was leading. I salute her for that!

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  16. Thats shocking, swaram. Why have these authorities opened thses rescue divisions for if they have no intention of helping? I mean do they just stop at registering your alerts..dont they have any responsibility to make sure those alerts are attended to?? Its frustrating indeed!!

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    1. Oh I know Deeps! Thatz the qs. Not that I trust all NGOs and other organisations, but Childline was supposed to be like a really good one! It hurts ;(

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  17. OMG Yes yes yes.
    I saw a few beggar kids (less than 10 again) doing acrobatics on the street for a living and complained to 1098, they asked me where. I told them the location and they said it’ll be taken care of. And nothing has happened, yet. For a year now!

    See, we can’t start another helpline or decide to take such a huge law into our hands. But the least we can do is publicize it. Through our blogs. If enough number of bloggers got together and complained about it, right here then the media might take notice and action can be taken. We can go through BlogAdda or something alva?
    If NaBloPoMo/Wordless Wednesdays is such a major thing in our circles, why can’t we take up initiatives and write about them. And start off with this one. Maybe even 1 a week.
    If we can all work together and improvise this idea and put it into action. We can make a bigger difference. What say?
    More people will follow

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    1. Nivs, its a gud initiative. We hv blogged abt many such problems earlier no. Wonder if it really brought about change! WW and NaBloPoMo is a major thing. Bcoz we all want fun quotient in our life too 🙂

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        1. We did Nivs. Abt 26/11 and many others 🙂

          I dint mean this does nt hv a fun quotient. The two r different and important in their own way is what I meant. And this one is not fun na .. lemme first find a solution 🙂

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  18. There’s very little we can do.
    Like Nancy says, most of them don’t give a damn. Offer them food instead of money, and you’ll get a look in return.
    I suppose NGOs you personally know does their work, is a good solution. But again, if the parents do not agree intervention, there’s nothing to be done. because, even if we offer to completely sponsor their education, stopping their child from working means that much lesser income in their current life. They will never be able to visualise the larger picture 😦

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  19. In fact, I briefly worked for a major newspaper as a trainee reporter. And when I wanted to do an articl on one such thing, i was highly scorned at by the head himself! 😀 But finally, i insisted on getting it done, did it, and quit the next day. I made sure action was taken. But that was a one-off incident. The newspaper was more interested in trivia and ad-pulling. They didnt care to better the society 😀
    That’s the day I lost faith in journalism! 😀

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  20. Sorry to flood this section, but i just remembered…there is this mail doing its rounds…saying when you hold functions, etc. at home, and there’s excess food, pls call 1098, they’ll come and take it to the orphanage or whatever…do not waste food, feed the needy…blah blah…?
    We once did it [there was a “Sadya” at home–the traditional Malayalee feast served on plantain leaf, with one million curries ;)]; Haan, so when we called them (it was about 4pm), they said they do not have refrigeration system, and so, can’t accept the food!
    I wonder if they expected us to offer our fridge too. In fact, I asked them themn how they manage to accept the left overs from such occasions: and they said, they accept it that way, only if it’s meal time; past meal time, if they have to serve it at the next ,eal, they do not! Ridiculous that was. Because, a sadya made for lunch does NOT go bad by dinner time. Grrrrr.

    Bah!

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  21. Thats a lot of effort swar 🙂
    But yea as u said…there’s no guaratee that it wud work out the way we think. Complaining and following up…but even then what are the chances that the boys can be rescued or the problem can be eradicated?

    I remember during my final year of college we were making a film on the railway platform ragpickers. We met up with many kids there whom we tried to encourage to go to the shelter. 3 months later we came to know the shelter was selling the boys and dealing in drugs 😐
    How do u know where to draw the line? 😐 And which is right and which is wrong?

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  22. Sigh. After hearing about a friend’s experience when she tried to get her abused household help assistance and protection thru’ Vanitha Sahayavani, where there was ONE woman officer who was clueless, powerless and didn’t do anything excpet agree to the husband’s promise that if he was given one more chance he would improve his behaviour, I really don’t feel very optimistic about govtal helplines and facilities. NGOs would be your best bet. What a rotten state of affairs. 😦

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  23. Aww.Swaram,this post made me so sad and helpless..Its sad.
    Let me share something with you:
    One of my elderly relatives,lives alone.She is a teacher and when I heard that she has a 15 yo boy(I am guessing 15-he is appearing for 10th this year) working for her,I was furious.My dad assured me,she was taking care of his studies and everything..I didn’t take it seriously.But,on my last India trip,I got a chance to visit them…and I was surprised..The little boy,lives in her house,like a son.Ofcourse he has chores-like helping in the kitchen ,getting veggies n stuff,cleaning etc.Then,he goes to school.When he comes back,he does his chores.Aunty comes home after him,then she sits him down and tutors him.All his education and needs are taken care of by her.And when he has exams,his mom comes to help and all he has to do is study.His family needs the money,and he needs the education.My aunt has done this for one more boy..who is a sales manager for some local newspaper now. I think,that she is doing a good thing..
    I really wish,that something could be done to help those kids:(

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    1. Your aunt has done a wonderful thing, Trish. This could be a solution. At least the child stays with us in a secure environment where he studies too. Though I wonder how many people would be ready to pay extra for his education etc.

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      1. Thatz really nice Trish! But the boy @ the veggie-shop did nt accept when we offered the same thing 😦 Rather, his parents dint!

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  24. I honestly don’t think calling 1098 would help. Basically we need to change the mindset of the parents. We had a lady working for us as a house help and sometimes she used to bring her 13 yr son to sweep the floors etc. My Aunt and mother (both teachers) taught him at home and then got him admitted to a school. Then he showed some inclination for learning car repair work and my aunt sent him to a garage owner she knew with the condition that he continues school. He used to go to the school in the morning and learn work in the evening. But one fine day, he was back to sweeping floors. The reason his mom gave us was that all this education and learning garage work will pay off only after a few years but sweeping floors means money right now! Then we had another maid in Delhi who had a very very bright daughter. We were sponsoring her education and she was doing great too. Suddenly her mom got her out of school and married her at the age of 16. We cajoled and pleaded and even threatened her to no effect. The mother said this is the way things are done in their village and if we forbade her to get married in Delhi she would simply go to her village and marry her there !!
    All this sickens me really !

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    1. Yes Prats. In some cases, when the kids dnt study and are better off doing some li’l work, its fine! But gas agency and heavy weight 🙄

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  25. Its a sad state of affairs Swaram! Nice to know that you people tried to do something about that. But most people just choose to ignore and carry on with thier lives… coz they cant have faith in the system… to do the needful 😦
    I have mixed thoughts and mixed feelings about this. Best wishes for your efforts!

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  26. lots of factors come to play when parents don’t send a child to school …but when you called 1098 it is their duty to guide parents in doing what is correct thing to do..
    only if right kind of help is provided these problems can be solved ..
    only by saying or dictating that a child cannot work is no solution…its gross poverty which makes parents to drive child work..parents should be told where and how their child can get free education + meal and maybe help them after school for sometime can we see some kind of improvement

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    1. I won’t say nothing works in a Indian system AA. We are all part of it too 🙂
      Some help from our end – thatz is what I want to know about 🙂

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  27. In TN, the free meals scheme in all Govt Schools is helping the kids to attend school – at least for that reason. I am sure many more states are following this scheme too…

    I don’t know why I am thinking of this but I think its the rich kids who suffer as well, by the reverse process – too much pampering and hand holding!

    Destination Infinity

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    1. Ya DI, there are a lot of mid-day meals schemes here too. Still, ppl want their kids to bring home money, which ensures food for some more ppl @ home 😦

      It depends on how they are brought up .. if they know the value of what they are getting, they would not be so for sure 🙂

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  28. Nice post Swarr. probably, one of the very few posts I had read during my break.

    🙂 🙂 Thank u 😀

    I had a similar experience too and I wanted to write a post on child labor based on that incident. But then I thought, people might take it lightly and left it in my drafts.

    Hmmm

    I once went to get my hair cut to a salon where I make a monthly visit. But this time, when they asked me to get seated, I found lill kids cutting hair, lill kids as in, they must be like 14-15. It scared me and I told the owner that no way Im getting my hair cut by these guys. He himself took the scissors then and got it cut for me. While paying him, I told him that these guys are supposed to study and not end up being like this. I also told him that’s the reason why I refused to get hair by the kids.

    I was actually a lill down after this when a friends call came and I released my frustration on him. According to him, I destroyed a few houses and thats all I did. I asked him why and he said, those kids would’ve been the bread winners of the family and now that I made such statements to the owner, he would fire the kids from the job fearing any pressure from the law. I had’nt thought in that angle and I remained confused; in a way my friend was right !

    Sadly, yes. But, if the parents can’t put them in schools, I think they should atleast be in safer jobs Vimmuuu. And I think family planning norms should be really really strict in our country. Wonder how they can check on so many ppl though, but still 😦 The person who delivers flowers to us daily brings his son along too. But, in this case, the boy goes to school in the morning and I see that he likes accompanying his Dad in the evening. He waits down and the boy comes up to each house and delivers the flowers. This may be something acceptable.

    But dont we all entertain child labor in some way. Your tire gets punctured in the middle of the road, and if there is only one workshop nearby, you would obviously approach that workshop pushing your bike till the spot. What if there is only a kid for getting the tire fixed, and what if you need to leave in an emergency liking catching a flight/train ? Would we stick to what the conscious says or…..I donno !
    A rare case Vimmuuu. No one else being around, we being in a hurry and so many things. Am not sure what I would have done then, am not saying I am right always – but I definitely try to drive some sense into their mind. Like in the case of the boy @ the vegetable vendor, we spoke to the boy and his parents. Not to the vendor, lest we affect his income and his family needs it 🙂

    Like

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