Education Society

“I chose to work, I am not forced” – The story of a kid working in a factory

The other thing that takes a high position this festive season is the campaigning to save the young kids, animals and the poor from doing work that the ‘normal’ folk have a good time out of. There are signs, notices, articles and women screaming on the roads to protect children from making crackers at factories, which is not only potentially deadly to their health, but also takes a huge part of their childhood away and just throws it into the ‘Responsible Adult’ gutter.

Then there are drives to discourage people from testing such items on roadside dogs or blowing up a rodent like it’s a newer degree of a cracker. Why, some people even choose to put aside their share of fun just because they have a bigger heart to care for the well-being of others. The most well-meant of these are the crusades for the children working in factories to keep them out of places where they shouldn’t be, who probably knowingly sacrifice their health, and sometimes even lives, to earn some extra money this season.

We used to have a maid at our home who would actively allow her children to participate in such dangerous, vicious tasks. And I would be itching to intervene and ask her why she would purposely try to endanger her own kid’s life. What she offers for an answer, not an explanation, is bountiful: the eleven-year-old boy is the man of the house.

The little boy wants to work at the factory, and will work at the factory no matter what, so as to have a little more food on the table than usual, and to make his mother a bit happier than usual. Even if it costs him his life. No matter how strong, however appealing, howsoever emotion-inducing tears-in-your-eyes situation is rouses among us, some of these kids don’t just get pushed to work, some of them simply want to. There’s no use at all campaigning for the little ones to be freed of such work, but the truth is, they choose this work, no one ever pushed or tricked or talked them into it.

Even for the kids of tender age who we consider are barely mature enough to decide to want chocolates over ice-cream, their family is important enough for them to themselves choose to throw away a lifetime of childhood dreams for a pocket-half of greens to get them by, and some more. There’s no campaigning against kids for their own good when they themselves are giving it up willingly. Hardly of age, and already picking up adulthood and responsibility in place of toy cars. Playing with Potassium Chlorate instead of dolls. But that isn’t really the toughest part – that one belongs to the fact that this choice is entirely theirs – we give up our dreams sometimes to make others’ come true – people we care about – but giving up one’s own childhood willingly is one decision no child should have to bear, but here they are – making bold decisions right as they crawl out of their cribs. How can we fight for them if they themselves refuse to tag themselves into the ‘S.O.S.’ columns?

They are not looking to be rescued; they are in no discomfort knowing that their family is benefitting over their momentary discomfort. We may choose not to buy firecrackers or ban their sale or stop their manufacturing, but that isn’t going to help them, it’s going to make them more miserable.

Of course, that is not to say that there aren’t kids who are forced into this labor – who want to get out into the sunlight every second of the day. But the problem is, while we focus mainly on these kids, we affect the minority others – while rescuing is a most noble act, plucking out a kid from the lion’s mouth isn’t what he’s looking for in a hero – he is the hero, and he wants to be left alone, he isn’t looking for someone to rescue him. His dangerous duties are someone’s first meal of the week. If there’s no bait, there’s no fish, either.

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