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Millennium Post

Raising a few questions

Raising a few questions
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Sixty five years of Independence and we are nowhere near the liberating thoughts and policies we pledged on. A street play — Ek Sawaal — was performed on these lines at the Pacific mall in west Delhi on the eve of 15 August by members of Badte Kadam, a federation of street children facilitated by NGO Chetna in collaboration with Save The Children organisation.

Set in the time of Indians celebrating their gaining freedom  after much struggle, the scene of celebration is followed by a disturbing scene that mocks at the existence of freedom. The practise of untouchability, girl child being repressed and that which still continues to exist right in front of our eyes in broad daylight — child labour.

Repressed and deprived of resources, parents cannot send their children to school and prefer to send them instead to work for added income for the family. The hypocrites that we are and continue to be even after the Law against child labour [that does not allow any child who is 14 or below to work in any hazardous industry], the situation has worsened as parents are still unaware of the rights of children and importance of education in the ‘Independent’ India and continue to prefer work over education.

The play is a satire that shows ministers using this act of repression in speeches and fake promises for vote banks. For it is not for them to follow the laws made by them.  In the dark and dingy and the undiscovered parts of our free country, child labour still exists as a flourishing trade. In broad daylight on the highway
dhabas
— where you enjoy your desi meal, the kids continue wasting away their childhood working, repressed and unaware of their rights.

The play is filled with short scenes of different times, and entails the time period from the Independence till today and how we built the laws and did not follow them. ‘After Independence, we have been celebrating freedom but these children are still not aware of the existence of any such word. They have not known a free life that is filled with the joy of childhood. So many laws have been passed, but nothing more than sympathies have been in share of these unfortunate street kids. Nothing concrete has been done about it. The major theme of our play was to remind people of the existence of this vice in the ‘free’ country we live in,’ said Sanjay Gupta, Executive director, Chetna.

In a country where even the media stops at the point of reporting the offence and thinks its job is done — where do we all stand? This street play does not want you to discuss this issue over coffee, condemn the ministers, laws, policies, and the media. It wants us to understand that the government, families of these kids, media, policeman, lawmakers are not the only ones responsible for the protection of their rights. We the people are responsible more than anybody else. How many times have we reported the offence? How many times we have wanted to help a street kid? That is the question the play is asking. And if not for us, where should these kids be heading to — which door should they knock? And is it really freedom that we are celebrating?
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