Imagine Childhood Set Free: Authors at ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival 2019 deliberate on how to end child labour

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Jaipur: Taking a step further in its quest to end child labour in the city, recently launched Child Labour Free Jaipur (CLFJ) Initiative organised a panel discussion at the prestigious Zee Jaipur Literature Festival on the need to create awareness and to remedy the rampant child labour employed in Jaipur workshops and home-based units. The Child Labour Free Jaipur Initiative is a multi-stakeholder partnership with broad-scale support from state and district governments, businesses, civil society organisations and local communities to make Jaipur free from child labour – becoming a model for child protection, and one of the safest places in the world for international retailers and ethical Indian companies to do business.

As part of the panel, eminent child rights leaders and authors like, Mr. Harsh Mander, Director, Centre for Equity Studies; Mr. Sheoraj Singh Bechain, well-known Dalit writer and Professor, University of Delhi; Mr. Ramesh Paliwal, Founding member and Secretary, TAABAR; Ms. Paro Anand, well-known children’ book author and head of Literature in Action; and Mr. Sanjoy Roy, Founder, Salaam Balak Trust and Managing Director, Teamwork Arts, deliberated upon sustainable solutions to put an end to the problem of child labour in the society.

Moderating the session, Mr. Hisham Mundol, Executive Director, India and Child Protection, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), laid the foundation of the discussion by explaining that allowing employment of child labour makes no economic sense. He quoted one of the studies by the International Labour Office (ILO) which states that the benefits of eliminating child labour will be nearly seven times greater than the costs, or an estimated US$ 5.1 trillion in the developing and transitional economies, where most child labourers are found.

The panelists agreed that while the link between poverty and child labour is obvious, it should not be used to rationalize child labour. Based on their diverse experiences, the participants shared their perspectives about the challenges for rescued child labourers and street children. They echoed a need to alter persistent social perceptions that the best option for underprivileged children is for them to work, and that instead society must raise awareness that all children have the right to choose their future.

Expressing her thoughts, Ms. Paro Anand, head of Literature in Action said, “We have to feel these children’s pain. If we don’t we are lost already. We have to hear the voices of children. All these children have to be our children.”

Mr. Hisham Mundol, Executive Director, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), further added, “Something special is happening in Jaipur. What Child Labour Free Jaipur is trying to do is to show that business can do well by doing good. Is there a way to create an island of hope for children? Jaipur can be that island of hope.”

Ramesh Paliwal, TAABAR said, “We help the children come out of trauma. They are always in fear. It stays with them. They are emotionally broken. We use drama to help them speak and come out of the trauma and then they can feel both happiness and sadness. It helps them shift from the past to the present.”