Today, 14th November, is Children’s Day.
How do we celebrate Children’s Day ? By ensuring that no child is abused or exploited, no child is deprived of food, clothing, education, medicine and shelter, no child is treated with hatred and made to have an inferiority complex.
But how do we ensure that ?
The Supreme Court in several decisions has held that the right to life mentioned in Article 21 of the Constitution means the right to a life of dignity. Hence everyone, including children and women, are entitled to food, medical care, education, clothing, shelter, etc as these are part of a life of dignity.
But these are just words. Court verdicts, unless implemented on the ground, are just hollow talk. What is the ground reality ? The truth is that crores of our children are living in horrible conditions, without proper food, education, health care etc, often in slums with no proper electricity, water and toilet facilities, etc.
I once went to have a meal in a small restaurant. I was served by a tiny boy, about 10 or 12 years old. I asked him why was he working here, and was not in school ? He replied that his father was too poor to send him to school, so he had to work to earn some money.
So isn‘t celebrating Children’s Day hypocrisy and a gimmick ?
I am reminded of Sahir Ludhianvi’s verses :
“ Zara mulk ke rehbaron ko bulao
Yeh kooche yeh galiyaan yeh manzar dikhao
mashriq ko lao
mashriq kahaan hain ? “