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Diwali Darkness for Minor Children of Firecracker Industries

October 26, 2011  by: S. Chowdhury  Points: 12   Category: Others  Earning $0.50   Views: 1132

Even though child labour is prohibited in India still the firecracker manufacturers engage child labour illegally by forcing them to do hazardous work for long hours against measly sums of money. While the whole country celebrates the lights of Diwali these bunch of hapless children are entrapped by the darkness of endless hazardous toil to satiate the greed of many firecracker manufacturers.

         

The festivities of India has a unique identity of their own and varied meanings delivering an overall larger message. Diwali is not only one of those festivities but a very important one in terms of both the overall larger message it conveys and the wide celebration it cuts across the length and breadth of the country. Diwali is the festival of light, light that reigns over the demeaning forces of darkness. Sadly the forces of darkness are not vanquished as it is made out to be and very much in existence beneath the illuminations.

To celebrate the Diwali night people all around the country burn huge quantities of firecrackers every year and get soaked in the lighting up of night skies. Other than Diwali firecrackers are burst during numerous other festivities, social occasions, cricket matches, political victory celebrations, etc. Therefore the demand of firecrackers across the country is huge and firecracker manufacturing industries gear up to the daunting challenge of churning out mass production and also to make hay of the situation. Scores of people are engaged by the firecracker manufacturing industries to meet the large demand and shockingly many of them are minor children.


A minor child labourer of the firecracker industry

Child labour is prohibited in India as per the law based on the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986. Anybody caught engaging in such an offence can be imprisoned up to one year or have to pay a fine up to twenty thousand of rupees or both. Sadly this law is not being implemented effectively at all and is flouted on a daily basis. Large sections of the society and various sectors of work are culprits of such offences and the malaise runs much deeper than it generally appears. But the hazardous nature of work of the firecracker manufacturing industry makes it even more culpable because of the exploitation of minor children.

Several areas of India including Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Punjab are engaged in such illegal activities but the hub is generally a place called Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu from where the bulk produce of firecrackers generate and it is also known as the capital of India's firecracker industry. Children below the age of 14 are forced to work in shabby and unhealthy conditions for long grueling hours against a measly sum of money. It is not that their parents are unaware of the facts. As a matter of fact they are the ones who insist on it to support their family budget at most times. Children get killed many times because of grievous accidents and a little ruckus happens after that but then it gets back to business as usual.


Other children celebrate Diwali in India

The authorities are well aware of the situation but choose to look the other way as more often than not they are in cahoots with the owners of such manufacturing units. The owners are also smart enough to use a ploy that works as a shield in protecting themselves against any legal action. They contract the firecracker manufacturing orders to agents who then sub-contracts it to the families or make a set-up of their own employing minor children. Hence sudden raids by the police only gets to the agents while the owners walk free. The poor conviction rate in such cases is one of the major reasons that the blatant violation of law, human rights or even child rights goes unabated.

Even those children who do not get killed or maimed from grievous accidents are adversely affected by various health hazards resulting from the use of harmful chemicals that are key ingredients of many types of firecrackers, not to speak of the overall detriment in their life and educational careers resulting from forced abandonment of studies and school attendance. It is high time their parents and family members understood this bit of truth for the sake of their child.

Many NGOs throughout India are working in cohesion round the clock to put a stop to this menace but the task is extremely difficult. So they are trying to build awareness first within the family of such workers about the ill-effects of such malpractices and also working towards increasing the conviction rate on complaints lodged. Unless the honest section of the system lends a supporting hand to the crusaders it will not be possible to root out this scourge on their own. Sadly what I find from the statements of those with law enforcing powers on various public forums are a bunch of empty promises. They need to do much more than giving mere lip service to redeem themselves.

So next time you light up a firecracker to celebrate your happy Diwali spare a thought for those hapless children who are entrapped by the darkness of forced endless hazardous toil in producing your lights of glee while they suffer in silence! Also think how you can raise your voice against such shameful wrongdoings!




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