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A Paradigm Shift

After the recent gang rape of a 21 Year old in the state capital of Madhya Pradesh, the civil authorities were in a state of haste. Impulsive and sudden measures were taken and a couple of officials were suspended for negligence and reluctance by the police department. The incident intensified the commoners’ loath for police as the police tormented, shrugged off and refused to file a charge sheet while trying to circumvent the whole incident by declaring it as concocted. This was just one of the many incidents that happen in our country. My main intention wasn’t pointing out the crimes against women, instead was to extrude the word reluctance to another generation.

It’s the generation of the ones who are younger, underprivileged, uneducated, and unaware and most importantly, underpowered.

I am talking about those guys who you see every day while sipping that cup of tea, while looking for your daily mail, and while commuting. Okay, if it hasn’t blinked yet then probably you’re on the wrong side of the internet.

Let’s talk about the facts and figures, shall we?

India has a colossal population of 1.21 Billion people, with a optimistic conjecture of surpassing china by 2025. Children amount to 39% of this populace. Less than half of these children are actually able to attend schools (and thus they are caught in the deadlock, I will discuss about this later), and amongst the ones who do, about two third actually cross grade Eight. Just imagine, if those children could attend proper schooling and training, how easy it would be to gather a pool of talented and employable individuals once they enter adulthood. They could also dream of working a proper 9 to 5 and earn multiple digit incomes.

In 1994, UNICEF conducted a survey where it was revealed that about 11 Million children in India lived on streets. They are homeless; they have no one whom they can look up to, no future, no aspirations, no morale, and no hope. Now adjust that figure with the increasing population and living standard difference in India which has been growing substantially over the years. The numbers would be haunting and infuriating.

I’m sure if you guys regularly use Facebook or Twitter and are up to date with the current meme trend that is rage everywhere, especially in India, you must know this child.

This is Kamlesh. One of the examples which give you an insight what can happen if the children are neglected. The interview with Kamlesh was daunting and disheartening and was very difficult to watch. This shows the corruption of these poor souls. Kamlesh could have attended schools and underwent proper tuition and maybe landed a good job and most importantly could have become self-dependent, but he became a drug addict. Poor kid, it would be no surprise if this level of addiction among children is common, without someone to look after, what can you expect?

This isn’t the only thing that these children are exposed to, the dark world of impoverished brings in all kinds of horrors. Child sex abuse, child labor and trafficking is very very common. You might think slavery is obsolete nowadays well, think again. Kailash Satyarthi on his Bharat Yatra acquainted us with many revelations including the fact that the cost of a child slave in India is less than that of a buffalo; such is the value of life in India.

India has 33 million children between the ages of 5-18 years, who are engaged in labor. Every 8 minutes, a child goes missing in India, due to kidnapping, abduction, murder after abuse and the rest can be easily extrapolated, says the CRY United States.

So, if the matter is so serious, then why isn’t something being done?

This is because those children are not from our society. The children of our society go to school, play tennis, study hard and secure scholarships. If such a child is kidnapped and degraded tomorrow, the whole country would go frenzy but no one bats an eye when there are regular instances of child trafficking and slavery rackets coming to light. Isn’t that some important matter to look into? We dodge the problems that have zero impact on our lives or the lives of those whose lives have an impact on our lives.

If tomorrow we see a child wearing decent clothes working in a restaurant (or dhaba) you’d be furious and take no time dialing 100 because that is something that can happen to your child, or a friend’s child. You see, we care about ourselves and our friends so we act. We don’t care about that young lad wearing toiled clothes repeating “Sahab.”

This is the crux of all the child-related crimes and problems in our society. We think it’s completely fine for poor kids to labor around because they are poor and in dire need of money, but have you pondered upon the deadlock (this is the deadlock that I was talking about in the beginning) that forms when children don’t study? Their parents are poor hence they can’t afford decent quality education, which means they can’t be skilled for the future means they will be under -poverty line too and their children will also be in the same shoes as they are now. This cycle continues perpetually and the stats of underprivileged go on increasing. There you go.

So, next time you see a child selling newspapers, interact with him and ask him why he does that instead of attending school, and why he doesn’t attend the government-funded schools. Also, you might think you are helping these kids by buying these newspapers for 5 Rupees which may not have any impact on your life and may release the burden on these kids’ lives, then think again. Maybe you are promoting child labor by buying these newspapers. Instead of donating that money to a nonprofit may help someone to do something blissful for these children.

In India, Police only acts in two conditions; One when there is some kind of political or VIP interference in an issue, and second when the media highlights an issue and people take it to the streets. So it totally depends on us, unless we make that one move, nothing will change. It is the duty of the journalists and article writersto highlight this issue on National Dailies, and we commoners can take that one move which will cause this paradigm shift, we speak up. Speaking up means actually moving out of that comfort zone and doing something, simply sharing a couple of Facebook posts is not a remedy. People simply fool themselves thinking social media outrages have any relevance in the practical world. The only way to make a change is to act, and rest all are just pompous measures which don’t hold any utilitarian quality.

Child abuse and neglect is a serious issue and it’s not that it’s not covered in the media outlets, it’s just that we see and immediately turn a blind eye to it. The media being morally corrupt, and bought out have the insatiable lust for TRP and currency notes thus, they show no interest in the matter. We could discuss about it, raise awareness and have proper PIL in the courts arranged. Additionally, if we are potent enough, we can involve, volunteer, and help by making a contribution in the numerous pre-existing NGOs, but we are ignorant when it comes to things like these and more interested in finding about the marriage venue of Virat and Anushka.

There’s a silver lining though, things are changing for good, and people are coming ahead to speak up. A quick Google search reveals a cluster of Nonprofits aiming to counter the problems discussed and there is still hope that things would change further and the rate of change would increase, but still, we need a considerable amount of manpower and initiation as well as awareness in the matter.

We wait in anticipation.

Ankit City : Bhopal

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