No more Children's Day

“A nine year old boy, Sagar, is sacrificed, to Goddess Kali, by his superstitious grandfather on Diwali night. The old man had hoped that the ritual would ensure the safe return of his missing son. While the whole country was celebrating the ‘Festival of Lights’, the light is snuffed out of young Sagar’s life forever.”  - The Telegraph.

If you think the event in the life of Sagar is an isolated incident,  happening to the citizens of  a war ravaged country or to the denizens of  a state  which is still caught in the throes of an existential trauma you are quite mistaken. The plight of the majority of children, the most vulnerable section of the society, is miserable wherever you look – especially in our part of the world.

Rape, abuse, dowry customs, child labour and infanticide are part of a tragic legacy in India that is also full of bright minds and a rich cultural heritage. Like every year, today children’s day will be celebrated almost in every school with aplomb, politicians will give big lectures about child development and with Facebook coming up in a big way all that you get to see are photos, newsfeed getting filled (over crowded) with people putting up photos from their childhood, seriously!? This is how children’s day is celebrated!!? 

The situation is very gloomy. Despite pious announcements, decisions and declarations, the condition of the children in the country is dismal. Though the child death rate has decreased, still crores of children die in India even before they reach one year. There is no health care or treatment available for them not only in the tribal areas, but in many parts of the country. Even sufficient foods are not available and malnutrition is usual which retards growth of the children.

Assocham’s latest study revealed spine chilling statistics. According to the reports, the national Capital is home to over 1, 00,000 street children followed by Mumbai (1, 25,000), Bangalore (1, 10,000), and Kolkata (85,000).

Source: Google Images
Leave the country as a whole, a good percentage of children in Bengal have no access to education, due to non-availability of schools in the interiors and also poverty of the families. They are forced to work in hotels, small scale factories, agriculture, and domestic work. Rules are there against child-labour, but it is more violated than implemented. In any town/city, you can see a large number of begging children, some of them exploited and terrorised by the mafias.

 The cruel exploitation of the children and molestation is another dark chapter. Children are sexually assaulted in even homes and schools, leave alone in unsafe areas. People in high society are also involved. Due to poverty, sometimes, children are even sold by the parents. Take the recent case of the student of G.D. Birla School. She was sexually abused by one of the male attendants of the school. She lost the innocence of her childhood even before she could understand it. She is just one among those hundreds of children who are abused and trafficked every day right under the nose of politicians and police. It’s just horrifying to comprehend the world we create for our next generations, regardless of location. With regards to a country like India, much needs to be addressed to issues of child slavery, prostitution and abuse hidden under covers of its spiritual marketplaces too.

Every 14th November we celebrate Children’s Day with great fanfare all over the country. Leaders, politicians, bureaucrats, industrialists and other celebrities visit slums, orphanages, and jails. They distribute sweets, clothes, toys, give profound speeches, deliver sermons on the duties and responsibilities of the citizens of tomorrow.  And then they go back to their cocoons of affluence and luxury leaving the children to rot.

Kids can’t revolt, they can’t take to the streets and most important they can’t vote. So naturally no one bothers about them. They can be used, misused and abused with impunity.

All it needs is little bit of effort, a little bit of commitment and a tiny voice in our minds and hearts that will urge us on to make the lives of those around us a little better. Only then can we hope for a world where a three year old girl does not have to be a victim of sexual perversion and a nine year old Sagar does not have to be sacrificed to Goddess Kali. Only then we can boast about 14th November being Children’s Day and the birthday of our first Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru.