Fate And Fortune Of Underprivileged Children In India

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Childhood is in difficult circumstances in various places across the globe. Global processes and societal structure shape childhood in different domains of children’s lives. Various social, economic, cultural, and political agencies (e.g., parents, family, governments) are responsible for unhappy and lost childhood. Children are the future continuance of societies, and have therefore been trained to replicate the material and intellectual conditions that were/are considered essential to positive adult. Children, whether belonging to literate or non-literate societies, have been, are, and will be considered vulnerable members of the community who need nurturing, care, and training.

They become the central hub of the network of knowledge production and must become a member of the community. The process of bringing up a child depends on their primary guardian and the society into which they are born. The process is based on the structure and function of the micro- and macro-world, including parents and their family’s economy, and social networks. Their dependency on adults pushes children into a difficult situation because they are the silent spectators and sufferers of poverty, ill-health, poor family relation, generational conflict, racial conflict, and government policy. They are abused by the adults “as an object of pity connected to a politics of pity ”whereas they should be treated“ as a subject of rights connected to a politics of justice”. Overall circumstances determine whether the children attend school or join as child worker or they would be the idle child. Thus, rate of street children, child workers, child beggars and child soldiers are increasing rapidly. Migration and child trafficking are prime causes of child abuse.

The global policies for the protection of childhood have two important aspects – child survival and child rights. Governments and NGOs have taken strategically different projects and programmes for their protection and rehabilitation. These agencies generally raise fund through using child images, which are super composed and fabricated.   The child images violate the child dignity and human rights. It is linked with the global capitalist economy as profit oriented rather than virtual protection of interest of the child as subject of future world.

Global capital economy affects structure, process and functions of family (whether it is a transnational family or a traditional family). It changes roles and responsibilities in the family which shapes future of the childhood.

Education is the prime instrument for promoting positive childhood development. But children’s education suffers from lack of resources and strategies. School is a moral technology for children’s education, and it is remarked, “school is an agency of nourishment and modification of children’s behavior. It teaches to adopting and integrating ideas of thinking and feeling of a moral person. It importantly shapes the lives of children. Children learn to judge their intellectual merits as individuals which do not only ensure a qualification for work; it is a quality to lead the national progress.” But inadequate opportunities of education remind the pragmatic relativism. Nonuniform economic growth and development direct that parents or state is not always in position to meet educational cost. So, whether children should go to school or to work falling within this imitation. Further,  children are interdependent. Due to absence of proper policy and planning, children are engulfed into various antisocial activities.

The global care chains are also defective because it does not protect them from trafficking. The children’s survival is in a critical condition and neither do they enjoy parental care nor alternative parental care.

The model of liberal childhood is focused to child survival and child rights and child survival is limited by charity laws and child rights are bounded with some declaration by national or international bodies. The declaration is practically not implied because these two strategies are connected with children’s vulnerabilities and adult responsibilities.

For example, it has been observed that there are a dozen of NGOs working on the issue of child rights of railway platform children who basically live in the platform or nearby ‘jupri’ at railway side with parents or legal guardians in Sealdah, Kolkata, the busiest railway junction of Eastern Railway Division because of its geographical location and commercial importance. Its’ activities are primarily focused for rescue of trafficked children and protect them from the obnoxious situation. Schematically, it arranges drop-in-centre/night shelter, education, health care and so forth. It has been also publicized that it works for sensitization and empowerment of parents to ensure parental care and attention. But till a sizeable number of children are involved in begging from their early infancy in day light. No one is concerned with this. Railway authority and NGOs, (in spite of a booth of CHILD LINE) are indifferent to rescue them.

For safe and secure childhood, there is need of provision of space for proper care and attention, and appropriate control strategies and policies. Only publicity of work for raising fund to meet personal greed, name and frame never meets the interest of underprivileged children. For better future hood of these children, there is need of empathetic interference. Otherwise, it was/is/will be our national scar.

  Harasankar Adhikari Calcutta Based Independent  Social Worker


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