Delhi Metro……Blue line…..Expensive phones ringing and vibrating……..Two juveniles board the metro………Absolutely barefoot…….. A spree of laughter……… Shabby fabrics sweep over their body……. Wooden boxes held tightly to their chest……. Suddenly a cherry shoe polish dribbles out on the clean floor. He meekly picks it up and they sit in a corner.
This is supposedly a very common sight in Delhi, and to talk of it in national terms, the scale is even higher. Poor children with stale shoe polishes, rough shoe brushes, and old wooden boxes can be seen in every nook and corner of the country. To talk of it in the broader aspect, one might be assured enough to believe that there are other such petty jobs these juveniles take up in order to earn two time bread for their empty stomachs. There is no need to mention the places and the conditions in which they manage their work. From cleaning dishes in restaurants to serving tea at dhabas, the leftover in expensive plates to the tea in transparent glasses has become their way of life.
He pulled out a shoe sole from his valued possessions. The next action forced people to pay attention. Their green colored pencil started sailing smooth on their “handy notebook”. “Hum padhte bhi hai or kaam bhi karte hai”, the elder boy answered on being enquired.
Sometimes, these “street kids” have to face even more torturous conditions, when mafia groups force them to move in to vicious begging circles. These groups are sometimes so cruel that they permanently fracture body parts of these little kids to make more earnings through begging. Amongst all the chaos these children have to face, the worst of all the pain that they have to take is the inhumanitarian attitude of people around them.
The Constitution of India (26 January 1950), through various articles enshrined in the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy, lays down that:
- No child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment (Article 24);
- The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age six to 14 years. (Article 21 (A))
This comes under the legislation of our nation. But the enforcement of the law is in the hands of the people. It wouldn’t take much for an educated family to adopt a child or at least make sure that the child gets a proper education. After all it is important for us to understand that it isn’t just some ten rupee notes that these kids work for, but all that matters to them is the love they always struggle to find.