It is said that tigers have ranges of hundreds of square kilometers to get on to their prey and have their fill of raw blood and flesh. Robbers, child mafia men, child trafficking, begging mafia, child kidnapping have no limits and they tread anywhere to get on to their prey and then starts the vicious circle where a term called as ‘child labor comes into play’. The same has to be stopped but it does not look that it will. This is happening in the urban townships where you can see children doing all sorts of jobs, one can see them in semi- urban areas too and wherever the laboring parents move for earning money’!
Seeing them at work and begging for coins one tends to think in fact most of us do, as they do their routine drills of asking coins or in the evenings after carrying bricks asking for a few rupees in multiples of one but harassed and subjected to indignation by the men who have employed them. Invariably the money is taken away by a drunken monster in the form of the father or the person who has leased them to do the job. That drives people also to think that why had his/her mother gone to the trouble of bringing him into the world if the most exciting moment in his/her life was having been made lame by abuses hurled on them!’
-‘Golf is a wonderful game and the golf links lie now in almost every urban township and that too almost every day in the morning and the evening. The children of lesser God’s keep looking out and see the men at play. Not a pleasant sight but that is that. But the writing is clear on the wall, child labor is a social ill that continues to plague Indian society and no one is taking this thing seriously though by now the same should have been in trash bins!’
-’ But there is another scenario prevailing on the LOC where the children are coaxed and cajoled to get into the books to devour whatever is written in them. That’s the difference in the two kids in the picture both of the same age one is busy in the forlorn calm but in the past dangerous hills and one in urban jungles where without a penny in pocket will not give you Vada Pav (Mumbai/Pune) or Bun Chana in Jammu streets. So carrying bricks on barren soft heads is their fate and destiny! Pitiable but that is what the world is?’.
-‘These kids on the streets grow up as the others do but these little ones have no destination or the final stop in their lives. If they have any in dark dungeons where they live and die everywhere and finally hit the pyre just to be remembered that they too were born once only to be confined to oblivion where a majority is never remembered. Only a few are who made it to the top, but who will do so no one knows!’
But a few are lucky and fortunate as they come under the embrace of the Indian Army and Jammu and Kashmir Police because they are given what we call as study material and given an option ‘hit the ridiculous kitchen sink or stand up on your legs.’ Be strong and fight it out because the time is limited though it looks never ending as days and nights are a routine affair in the lifetimes of humans but they are all different to each other ever since the time one is born and one dies. This thing has to be taught to the parents. As these two days are different (being born and dying) so is each and every day of human lives. But for some kids they aren’t the same and the reasons are we all too well. A nation is illiterate and uneducated if a child is labored. It’s the parents who have to look into this but they have no option since they are poor and have no way out other than to work with their hands with legs on the move continuously and the children see them right from the day they were born. Looks distasteful but that is a reality and dark hardened one.
Just shift the template on to the areas where the massive flames of humanity were endangering humanity. There is a place known as Budhal, another one of those marvels created in the laps of Pir Panjals created by God’s in their spare times with an assurance that wonderful people would be born here. They were but then the tumuslt struck and they became a subdued and psyched out lot. This would have continued had not the men in olive greens come in as a massive sandstorm. The storm with it carried granules of complete packages that included education, health, awareness, job orientation, competitiveness and almost everything that was a requisite for development! And lo! The kids began moving ahead on high rise tides and the change is fairly perceptible. Incidentally this is just the beginning as the educational blizzard now is unstoppable as it is the kids are holding hand in hand and moving ahead on the roads that were never ever taken before. They have visualized the fact that without the requisite education none can move forward in life.
That is the difference between the two children in the picture, one with bricks on the head and the other with books in hands! Environment and guardians do matter with one tired and lost in hope and another involved in books for making the future because each line written in them means maximum oceans of knowledge that need to be gulped! None can drink an ocean of knowledge but even a few buckets in life means a lot! At least this theorem has been proved again and again. But some cannot even have a sip!
Army units have several traditions, customs, suspicions and adamant strictures which have been followed down the ages and would be followed through ages. One of the famous ones is mascots and individuals who have been born and brought by units ever since their childhood. Out of many such traditions I’m going to relate a unit in which my father had served and in my childhood I saw a weird looking character but always smiling and he was the gardener of the unit. He indeed was special and he made sure that every company, at that time six of them to be precise, he looked after as far as the environment went. God knows from where he used to manage flowers but he used to. He was picked up by one of the commanding officers whose picture I did see on the archives wall of the officer’s mess but never met him. This gardener’s (name I’m forgetting but remember was from Begusarai) was brought up in the Administration company, a belly heavy sort of a joint, now Headquarters Company with some very heavy fighters of the unit on its list (could be the best in the unit too)! The man used to get up on the first bugle call and get on to the flower beds starting with the company he used to sleep in. An enamel mug, a mess tin and a plate with blue rim but absolute white and not a speck of yellow were his utensils. Later I came to know that from the boys in my childhood who fondly called me ‘baba’, JCO’s and officer’s contributed to his pay and the man paid back each penny with his sweat. There used to be an inter unit garden completion at all levels, at Brigade and Division and on every new location this man brought laurels to the unit. Obviously my mom’s favorite in the family welfare meets, not that extravagant those days but still an occasion for the ladies of the unit to interact! This man was also great at flower arrangement (army ladies also love to get involved officially but for welfare purposes of the ladies of the family called as Paltan). The money plant climbing over a crooked glazed piece of wood with a thorn like cactus ball at the base and the vase filled by dry leaves, a splendid flower bed with only one rose standing in bareness and many more combinations were simply awesome. Time passed away, everyone grew old and many perished (everyone has to) but the progeny of this man survived! The boy was born in the unit and was a genius at plants, but as with times the thinking of generations also changed. The kid wanted to move on, he had learnt the lessons of discipline from a family and it was show time. The last I heard was that he was doing fantastically well But the kid who grew up from a family of olive greens always does well! Maybe some falter but aberrations are always there in life! This kid never did so! The unit his family served his father is still the flower bed of all varieties of roses, at that time in hundred and now over three hundred!
But again I said before some are born with the curse of Sisyphus (He/she was punished for cheating death twice by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill only for it to roll down every time it neared the top, repeating this action for eternity) Some kids he/she are born with that but it has to be changed but how is the question and who will do that is the bigger one!
Punishment, without any proper end or purpose, is inconsistent with our ideas of goodness and justice; and no end can be served by it after the whole scene is closed. Punishment, according to our conception, should bear some proportion to the offence and these children have done it! That is that they were born, whether God’s gift or human error I will not comment but if born they do not leave them illiterate! We are doing so! Why then eternal punishment for the temporary offences of so frail a creature as a child? Can any one approve of Alexander’s rage, who intended to exterminate a whole nation, because they had seized his favorite horse, Bucephalus? Heaven and hell suppose two distinct species of men, the good and the bad. But the greatest part of mankind floats between vice and virtue. These children with fragile psyches have to be taught that. Faster we do the better it is! Nothing else to say! Let’s all work for kids! Maybe a few diamonds which humanity lost!