I was glancing through some news paper and a heading "2 child labourers rescued from apartment" interested me. The Government of India recently banned child labour in hotels and residential complexes. So the officials are on a run to catch the culprits and free the children.
The motive behind Government's order is noble. It wants all the children to go to school and have some education.
But I wonder whether the recent order addresses the core problem - "Why is that some children are not sent to school?". All the children from middle-class, upper middle-class and the rich go to school. You need not tell their parents - "Please send your children to school. This age is meant for education. Don't make them sit idle at home (This is not an offence, though). And don't make them to do labour to earn money (This is a punishable offence)".
The reason why children from poor families are not sent to school is that they need for their living the money those children earn . If their economic situation improves, they themselves would stop sending their children for labour and instead send them to school. So the solution involves raising the standard of living of these people. The goal is to eliminate poverty. This would inturn solve many other problems inaddition to "child labour".
But yes, there are special cases of child labour where the family can afford to send the children to school but still they don't do that as they want the money. This applies typically to families which are poor but not "very poor". I think the problem here is more of "awareness". Those families are just not aware of the benefits of education. They have lost all hope that their situation will improve and that they can lead a more comfortable life. So they feel there is no point in sending children to school as that would fetch nothing. Instead sending for work would atleast bring some money.
And I can think of some cases where the Government's initiative is really helpful. There are some industries where the children (and even adults) are made to forcefully do labour. They will be given little money but they are committed by a "bond" to work for them throughout their life. This is an example of oppression. And the present law may atleast help to free-up the children from the clutches of these "Big wallaahs".
In summary, I feel that though the Government's initiative is good and helps in some cases, it mostly "cures the symptoms instead of the disease". What they really need to work on is to remove poverty, create awareness and confidence in the poor and the downtrodden of India.
I am drinking tea from a road-side shop and the server is a kid of age around 10. I wonder what happens to his job, if the officials find him. They dont want him to work, but the real question is "what will happen to his livelihood if he loses his job". So ironically both the owner of the shop and this kid are equally worried about the chance of being spotted by the Government officials!