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child

Chotu(the little one) is ubiquitous in North India and perhaps elsewhere in India too, called by different names. Staying in a lodge and need a cup of tea? Call chotu. Need lunch or dinner in a place where room service doesn’t exist? Chotu will produce one for you for a small tip. Gone shopping and are over laden with luggage? Again Chotu will carry the luggage to your car for a nominal fee. Chotu, the small straggly, ragged child with unkempt hair and patched shorts and an over-sized T-shirt is middle class India’s man for all seasons – factotum, bell boy, porter, concierge and more. What is more, he comes cheap, is adept at multi-tasking and is not unionized. Often he has loads of energy and is eminently adaptable and teachable. And if chotu happens to be a girl, there are other uses for her as she grows into adolescence.

As of October 10th, it is illegal to do the many tasks that the children normally do. Although on the face of it it sounds like a perfectly civilized move in reality it hurts the families that depend on their children working because of the crushing poverty in India. The government has recently revamped the Child Labour Prohibition Act of 1986 by extending the definition of hazardous work and declaring that employing children under fourteen years of age as domestic help or in the food and hospitality industries is illegal and that the guilty will be fined Rs. 20,000 or imprisoned for two years. As of now, the implementation of the law is going in full swing.

However, due to this implementation, a new problem is arising. Many small children come from very poor families that do not have the capability to provide food and shelter. In addition, many children run away from home due to bad behavior of their parents. What would happen to these children? Does the government have any plans for providing them food and shelter? Well, there is no specific answer.

At food stalls across New Delhi, many of the boys and girls who serve glasses of piping hot tea, mop floors and take out trash were not celebrating. The children of India’s tens of millions of poor families are expected to work, and in many cases they are the sole breadwinners. ”As it is, I barely make enough to survive,” said 12-year-old Dinesh Kumar. ”I really don’t know what I’ll do.” ”As long as I can remember I’ve worked in a restaurant, washing dishes, cutting vegetables, throwing out the garbage,” said Rama Chandran, 13. He said the money he sends home to his widowed mother and three younger siblings is crucial. ”If I didn’t send money home, they would starve,” Chandran said.

Personally, I am very happy that the Indian government has taken such measures. Children are the future citizens of a country and education is necessary to build better citizens, but first and foremost, their basic needs, shelter, food, clothes and medical treatment etc., have to be fulfilled. How can a child go to school without any clothes or on an empty belly? The Indian government must solve these problems of poverty which leads to child labour and exploitation if it wants to eradicate child labour.

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