It was February 2012, when I met Anil for the first time.  My employer, Vodafone, had placed me at an NGO called Gyanoday for 40 days to help them develop the strategies for both horizontal and vertical expansions, and mentor over 700 youth this NGO was serving in and around Meerut in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India.

Anil was 17 years old then and had beenwas in rag-picking work sincefor about 13 years.

During one of my mentoring classes, Anil stood up and shared that he wantsed to movecome up in his life., hHe wantsed to study as he has never been to school, and he wants to bring the life and hope for the people in his village especially to youth.

I was inspired and encouraged seeing Anil’s passion to do something in his life that, after taking permission from his parents, I brought him to Delhi on the last day of my NGO placement and had him stay with us, and have dinner with my family. For me, there is no greater joy than to help someone follow her or / his passion, vision and calling of her or hisis life.

Using my networkstrong relationships, I got him admitted into a globally renowned residential college at Gurgaon, the next day. Fully sponsored him!

He was conferred a D.Th. Ddiploma during the convocation held on March 2, 2013. On December 27, 2014,: he completed his Advanced Diploma. And on December 30, 2014,: we got him an offer to go for higher studies in Turkey through one of my dear friends.

What made Anil worth it to me?

Because he is created by God, therefore has infinite worth. Second, if we care, we will act and thirdly, if we act, things change.

So what is Child Labour?

The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity; that is dangerous or harmful to physical, social, moral or mental development; or requires them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.

The last caveat takes its importforce from the fact that education is crucial to breaking the cycle of poverty. If poverty can be reduced, then parents wonaren’t forced to send their children to work in order to survive.

The Wworst fForms of Child Labour:

Whilst child labour takes many different forms, the priority is to eliminate the worst forms of child labour as defined by Article 3 of ILO Convention No. 182:

  • all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;
  • the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances;
  • the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties;
  • work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.
  •  labour that jeopardizes the physical, mental or moral well-being of a child, either because of its nature or because of the conditions in which it is carried out, is known as “hazardous work”.

Some statistics

168219 million children aged 5-17 are involved in Child Labour, worldwide. 1 in 6 children work, globally. Children below the age of 18 years represent between 40-50% of all forced labour victims. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that more than two-third59% of all child labour is in the Aagricultureal sector

India has the highest numbers of child labour in the world where there are 124 million working children. Over 95% of these children belong to the low castes – the Dalits / Untouchables; the socio-culture factor is very critical here

About 70% of these children are working in agriculture sector while 10% working in the construction industry, another 10% working as domestic child labour and rest of 10% combined work with entertainment industry, industrial factories etc.

In the year 19899, United Nations’ International Convention on the Rights of the Child has established four rights forto the childrechildren includingn: Right to survival (Article 2), Right to protection (Article 3), Right to development (Article 6) and Right to participation (Article 12)

There’s no reason. There’s no excuse. Child labor is child abuse.

Child labour is denial of freedom. Child labour is denial of passion.

Child labour is denial of dreams. Child labour is denial of human dignity.

Child labour is denial of hope and future.

MULTI-FACETED STRATEGY TO COMBAT CHILD LABOUR

Involve key stakeholders:

Working children, ex-child labourers and children at risk of becoming child workers;

TThe parents and employers of these children;

EEmployers’ and workers’ organizations;

GGovernmental agencies at the local, state and national levels in such fields as planning, administration and finance, labour legislation and enforcement, education, health, social welfare, statistics and development;

Community and religious leaders;

Teachers, as well as health and social workers;

Non-governmental organizations and associations;

Committed individuals at all levels of society;

The Media; and

Universities and research institutes

Interventions:

Mobilize and generate awareness;

Build the capacity of different social actors (trade union members, local community members, and others);

Provide non-formal education;

Advocate institutional reforms;

and Develop income-generating alternatives.

Direct action with children;

Family-support intervention;

Partnerships with teachers and community mobilizers;

Public awareness generation;

Building broad institutional alliances; and

Coordination and networking.

Coming back to Anil’s story:

Seeing Anil’s life, there came salvation in his village: his parents who used to daily drink and fight amongst themselves left those practices for good on the same day they saw their son Anil in his black convocation robe and glory.

Anil’s life impacted many other families and youth of the same village; many left rag-picking and started studying.

Anil became an hero in the village the moment it became known that he was going to travel abroad for his studies

Anil had been born a rag  – picker, in one of the most difficult slum communities in the country, abandoned by the world, despised even by many who knew him. Now, he communicates in fluent English, has grown in personality, stature and valor, and has even become an eloquent speaker.

What might happen if we act?

God could affect a change in one person, who influences his parents, peers and others in a way that governments cannot; and who becomes the foundation of a generation restored to usefulness.

Accepted. Secure. Significant. Isn’t that what everyone desires?

Helping people understand their hardwiring (design), passions, gifts leading to their calling and creating a platform wherein they will live out their unique identity is what fuels my energy. And I feel, this mission is worthy of my energies and life. Anything can be achieved if a person is really living out his True Self.

Thoughts for reflection

Imagine 219168 million children who have been gifted by God with the creative minds are not contributing in: Innovation, Science and Technology, Mathematics, Entrepreneurship etc. What valid reason do we have?

What you can do to eradicate child labour from India and also from the face of the earth?

To help Indians become Economic Eengines what are the tools you can think of apart from Skilling, Entrepreneurship and Innovation?

.   .   .   .   . About Author

Mukesh is a coaching and leadership development professional who helps individuals and organizations discover their innate talents and how to capitalize on their strengths. He feels called to help people accomplish what they were put on this earth to achieve. Presently, he is working with LEADWell Global (www.leadwell.in) at CEO.

He has professional experience in a variety of settings, from life coaching high profile diplomats in cross-cultural settings to executive coaching in a large multinational organization to coach bureaucrats who feel stuck or are in transitioning to helping young adults, youth-at-risk, school dropouts in educational settings. He is also helping entrepreneurs and start-ups to discover their unique design and use them to develop their business strategies.

He spent about 15 years in corporate India and tried everything: digital, consulting, gap year, retail, research, training, IT, startups, entrepreneurship, education, media, non-profits.

Mukesh earned his Engineering in Electronics & Communication from Delhi College of Engineering and MBA (International Business) from Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi. During his MBA, he had founded a global business network at IIFT Delhi called MENAWA (Middle-East North-Africa West-Asia). In 2015, he was sponsored to learn Executive Coaching at the feet of the Masters at Harvard University, USA.