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Children’s Day: Fun for some, work for the rest
Published on 14 Nov. 2010 11:38 PM IST
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While kids across the country celebrated Children’s Day with gaiety and aplomb, there were many like nine-year-old Sunil who sluggishly prepared tea and washed dishes near a railway station here, unaware of the day’s significance. “I don’t know what is Children’s Day. For the last three years, I have been working at this chai (tea) shop to support my family. My father died some years back and I have three siblings to feed,” said Sunil, busy preparing tea.
Sunil puts in a 10-hour shift everyday to earn a meager Rs.100. For the thousands like him who roll out chapatis and scrub floors, Children’s Day -- the birth anniversary of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru -- is nothing but another day of labour to support their families.
For those falling on the other side of the social divide, Children’s Day is looked forward to with much enthusiasm.
As it fell on a Sunday this year, many schools organised the customary Children’s Day function in advance.
“My school celebrated Children’s Day on Saturday and we wore civvies and not the school uniform. A cultural programme was organised at the school and we were given sweets,” said an excited Sanchita Singh, a Class 4 student.
For a group of HIV positive kids from Jaipur, the day was made special because of a trip to Delhi, organised by NGO Aasha Ki Kiran.
The kids visited Rail Museum, Nehru Planetarium and Akshardham temple.
“It was fun to know about planets, stars and constellations during the sky show at the planetarium. We are really looking forward to light and sound show at Akshardham temple,” said an enthusiastic boy.
Education still a distant dream for many kids
The Government may have promised the Right to Education to every child but on Children’s Day this year just how much of that promise has really been kept. A recent study reveals that India is home to the largest number of child labourers and school drop outs.
The stories of child labourers are not of childhood fantasies but of a reality bitter and stark. This seven-year-old (identity concealed) has spent two years of his life working for 18 hours every day making school bags which he knew he could never carry.
When his tiny fingers got tired he was abused and beaten up mercilessly by his masters. His friends too tell similar stories.
“He used to beat me all over my body. He also abused me,” he says. “He used to force us to work from 9 in the morning till mid night,” says another child labour.
Almost 42 per cent of our country of a billion people is below the age of 18. They are vulnerable and often exploited and while we exult over Right to Education many children are denied the right to life.
So just how real is even the Eight to Education?
Badarpur Khadar, a village barely 5 kilometres away from the national capital has generations who have never seen a school. No school has ever been built, and no child can be seen with a book here.
The villagers want their children to get education.
“I am illiterate but my child should study and get education,” says a villager as other nod in agreement.
But the will to learn still does not guarantee the Right to Education. Will India continue to be blind to its future? Will India ever listen?

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