There was a special report on The Week entitled “Where Are Our Kids?”. It was one of the most disturbing articles I have read recently. According to the National Human Rights Commission, about 45, 000 kids go missing in India every year. Apparently India has become a Bermuda Triangle of sorts for kids. And what is worse these kids fall into the worst hands imaginable. They are forced to beg, are sexually exploited, or sold on the child labor market. While it appears that some of the children are abducted, others are willingly sold by poverty – stricken parents, who have been hoodwinked by unscrupulous carrion representing placement agencies that offer false promises of high – paying jobs and a better life.
Of course, there are strict laws regarding child labor of any sort. Pity they are not enforced. All this stuff got me thinking. Perhaps we are tackling this the wrong way. I have always looked askance at folks who hire little kids to work in their homes. But suddenly I am looking at them in a whole new light. Usually, the underage laborers are hired to look after their employer’s children or do relatively light household chores. At least these children get decent meals and a roof over their heads. I know a former child laborer who is now the proud owner of his own tailoring shop thanks to the munificence of his former employees. These children are definitely better off than the ones living on the streets.
Nowadays decent family folks avoid hiring children for fear of running afoul of the law. And yet laws don’t feed the bulldog. Consequently, people living in the lowest economic strata of society, have no choice but to sell their children to the predators on the prowl. So a bad situation has been worsened. Offering free education to these poor kids is hardly the solution. From their position, it is not a feasible choice as education is a luxury they simply cannot afford. After all they can’t be expected to squat under a tree and pay attention to poorly paid, ill – tempered teachers who usually don't bother to turn up for lessons. It would be nice if these institutions were run with a tighter grip and with some attention paid to the financial situation of the pupils.
A pal of mine and I were recently discussing what we’d do if we struck it super – rich in life. We decided we would start schools where kids will not only be offered free education under the tutelage of the best teachers money can buy but will also be taught useful trade skills which they will be able to employ for the benefit of the school and the neighborhood and for which they will get paid of course. That would be our Utopia. And since we are such lovely human beings we will also have enough left over to buy our diamonds, yachts, private jets, the Lakers, and Federer (I intend to retire him immediately). Sigh!!! Wouldn’t it be perfect? And while Jan and I are waiting to get rich, I hope other members of that elite made- of - money club have similar brainwaves.