Television shows children a dream they later can’t realize
MEDIA WATCH BY INAM UL REHMAN
FAME UNLIMITED: In this world of glamour, these children are lost
In 2006 a 5-year-old Buddhia Singh from Bhubneshwar, Orissa (now Odissa), created a record of sorts for being the youngest marathon runner when he covered a distance of 65kms. His pictures were splashed on newspapers and news channels, as usual, played it to death, how a young boy was ‘made to run for money’.
Next day National Human Rights Commission sends a notice to the coach of Buddia demanding how he allowed the underage boy to run such a distance. Rightly so.
A year later Zee network comes up with Zee Little champs and the whole media in India goes gung ho on the supposed talent these little Indian kids have. You have questions raised on 5-year old something running a marathon race and channels calling it injustices. But the same channels celebrate little champions who have to go through a tough audition and then go through gruesome process to win song competition and those who lose undergo mental trauma.
The former is child labour because in that case the child was made to run more than 60 kms but the later one is not. Why? Fool, it is money. The same media which will tell you in staccato the evils of child labour will be silent when questioned: why they praise Darsheel Safary of Taare Zameen Par fame, whom they label as child prodigy. Or for that matter Aman Siddiqui of Bhootnath. Isn’t it a sort of child labour? What Buddia did, and mind you he ran out of his own consent, and what these supposedly child prodigies are doing, how are they different from each other.
The thing is that popular news channels and newspapers are hardly concerned about anything substantial. Often, but provided if they devout any space for child labour, they give it inaccurate, superficial, lack of originality and initiative, absence of background and context. See news channels and you will be always told which ‘little champ’ is progressing and who is going down.
Those children involved in child labour get physically exhausted and have no competition from their peers. They are not pushed to extreme limits, as happens to children who take part in singing or dancing competition. This malaise of getting children to sell products has trickled to Kashmiri cable channels as well.
Today in Kashmir if schools have to promote itself what does it show? Children. I was in disbelief when one or two parents asked their wards to remain in front rows when the ad is being video taped. That for common people is no labour. For them it is ‘exposing’ children. The director School education is turning blind eye to such labour.
Reality television shows such as Little Champs and Boggie Woggie or for that matter any other programme including films where kids are involved makes one to believe that fame is within the grasp of kid's reach. Behind the scenes how many parents know that these delicate kids suffer endless hours of arduous and stringent practise? And how many of them survive from the initial glamour to reach to the zenith when they become adults!
Enakshi Ganguly Thukral, the founder and Co-Executive Director of HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, writes on this form of child labour: “There is only a thin, almost invisible line that separates encouragement from pushing, and pushing from exploitation. Maybe the fault also lies in our limited understanding of child labour, reflected in the child labour law, which bans employment only in hazardous occupations.”
“Clearly,” writes Enakshi in the weekly news magazine Outlook, “no child must be made to perform any act harmful to him or her, physically or psychologically, and unsuitable to his or her age.”
Children doing ads for schools for which they are not paid in Kashmir represents the malaise that has set into our society. It is a malaise in which all of us play a role as parents, as audience, as media. We know talent must be encouraged, not spoiled.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 28 Jan 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 28 Jan 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 29 Jan 2010 00:00:00 IST
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