Meet Sunil Singh Kushwaha. He collects tiffins from flats in Hauz Khas Village.
Q: What tiffins?
A: We make food for people living in these flats. In the evening, I home-deliver the tiffins. In the morning, I come to collect the empty boxes.
Q: Is that your job?
A: Yes. No. I’m actually a cook in Soni’s dhaba (eatery). I make rotis in the kitchen.
He’s just 12 and makes approximately 800 rotis a day. He earns Rs. 3,500 a month and sends it all to his parents through money-order.
Q: Where are your parents? Where is your home?
A: My village, Bakapur is in Madhya Pradesh, district Morena. My father has two-beegha of land. Anita and Longshri are my sisters. Rahul and Raju are my brothers. I’m the oldest.
Q: Do you like reading books?
A: No. I cannot read.
Q: Then what do you do in your spare time?
A: I hardly get any spare time. I wake up at 7:30 in the morning and stay busy till night.
Q: What do you want to be in future?
A: I want to be a cricketer. I’m a good batsman. Back home in the village, I played in the fields all the time. I would hit the ball very hard and it would fly far into the jungle. We lost 5 balls because of my shots.
Q: Do you ever miss your family?
A: Yes, especially my mother. I get to meet them after every 6 months. Nowadays I’m collecting money to buy a cellphone. You get a China one for Rs. 400, na? I’ll buy one and take it home. We do not have cellphones in Bakarpur. There is only one telephone at the post office. If I get one for, say, Rs. 400, I will give it to them when I visit the village later this month. Then I can call them whenever I want.
More than one lakh children under the age of 16 are currently employed in some form of child labour in the country.
What is shocking, is the fact that in most affluent cities like Delhi and Mumbai child labour is rampant. They are exploited primarily due to lack of education, as they aren’t aware of their rights. They are forced to work at odd hours and for extended durations. None of them are provided proper education.
In severe cases, they are beaten up and not even provided with proper meals.
“If you ignore me today when I’m an impressionable, exploited child then you’ve no right to complain tomorrow when I return with vengeance as a powerful criminal mastermind!”
By Aena Rizvi