Children at Work
Future Generations Deprived of Intellectual Capital
BOOK REVIEW BY DR. NAZIR AHMAD GILKAR
Despite strict regulations to stop child labour around 2.4 lakh children work as labour are in J&K. Not a single study has been carried out by the state to know the exact number of child workers in the valley. The author of Child Labour in J&K, Dr. Fayyaz Ahmad Nika has taken up an exhaustive study of this problem.
The forewords contributed by two eminent personalities adds to this book.
The first foreword by Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Hon’ble Chief Justice of India is an acknowledgement of the merit of the book and scholarship of a Kashmiri author on the subject by a constitutional luminary of international standing. The contents read, “it is everyone’s interest to invest in welfare of children … an empirically grounded study as the present one ... could prove to be of immense value to policy makers as well as judges and lawyers.”
The second foreword by Abdul Gani Malik, Hon’ble Minister for Higher Education, Labour and Employment, J&K Government also speaks volumes about the contents, essence and utility of the book. The Hon’ble Minister says, “By studying this thesis, one is forced to think about those who are future of the nation, but are being deprived of the basic facilities like nutrition, health care, and education. The thesis can help me and my department to work with more zeal for the eradication of the menace of child labour from our society”.
It’s highly encouraging that the apex court of the country and J&K Ministry of Labour have been impressed by the in depth analysis, elaborate discussion, real findings and workable recommendations of the book under review. The author has felt the pulse rightly by presenting the manuscript to solicit valued and honoured opinions on the subject-matter the book deals with to add to its value and offer a roadmap to weed out this menace from the society. This gesture also reflects intellectual courage on part of the author to make his research findings public and expose his research work to constructive criticism for further improvement in successive editions.
The two operative chapters, (i) child labour in Kashmir (Magnitude and Extent of Government Intervention), and (ii) Socio-Economic-Ethical Dimensions (Data Analysis and Discussion) constitute the core cluster of the book. The author has conducted a detailed field work and one-to-one interactions with the working children and their parents, sequel to which he identified multi-dimensional social, economic, educational, psychological factors, at least 20 in number, responsible for this menace. Each factor identified has been put to contextual and statistical analysis for verification on a wide canvas in respect of its pros and cons with due support of references to the context.
The divergent views advanced by the advocates of children at work are deep rooted in various myths associated with this problem. The author has employed adequate academic input in exploring the validity of such arguments during his empirical investigation. An objective analysis and elaborate discussion there upon in the spirit of debate has been attempted and all those unfounded assumptions stand negated. This exercise differentiates the present book from the existing inventory on the subject. A few misconceptions advanced for perpetuating the menace of child labour deliberated upon in the book are quoted thus:
• child labour is an off-shoot of poverty which is a law of nature;
• children are inquisitive and can learn the skill better;
• employers oblige poor families by employing their children;
• simple finger argument advanced by some people;
• child labour is better alterative to child begging;
• ends justify the means.
The book under review has advanced a variety of superb counter arguments to cut the aforementioned arguments. As for instance following extract referred to ipso facto suffices how brilliantly the author puts forth his argument to nullify a particular assumption. It reads, “child labour and child begging are un-desirable practices due to their social stigma and a misdirection to human resource development. The adverse effects of both are almost similar. Efforts are on to keep the society away from both. However, it would not be wise to substitute one wrong for another. If the rights of children are to be protected then they have to be saved from ill effects of both ...”
The book documents short case studies based on interactions with child workforce which constitute a very important segment of the core cluster. These case studies are developed, framed and drafted so well, meticulously and lively as if the reader is in direct confabulations with the children at their work-spots. This speaks volumes about the scholarship and exhibits the real beauty of the book. These ruthless stories present sufferings and the author in this context claims, “that veil from certain ugly realities to which the children are subjected to has been pierced”. These case studies can provide a relevant study material for a programme on child labour.
The book under review has a natural flow, consistency and continuity with due appreciation for aesthetic taste of readers. And this is an interesting read for all engaged in managing labour, entrepreneurs, government functionaries, legal experts, social workers, academics, students, civil society organizations and so forth. Besides, the book, I repeat, could prove to be of immense value to policy makers as well as judges and lawyers subscribed Justice Balakrishan.
The reference and text books brought out by the local publishers is highly encouraging and well appreciated. However, they are required to work a bit more with enthusiasm in order to stay in book publishing business in a neck bending competitive environment.
The shrinking space for research in higher education institutions is a matter of serious concern especially in the era of assessment and accreditation. The need of the hour is to re-energize research activities in the colleges to perform in line with the national policy. Research is the distinctive feature of higher education.
Dr. Nazir Ahmad Gilkar is Principal, Government Degree College, Sogam (Lolab), Kashmir. He can be mailed at email@example.com
Lastupdate on : Sun, 13 Mar 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 13 Mar 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 14 Mar 2011 00:00:00 IST
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