I ask this young kid, who looks about 17-18 yrs (I don’t know how old he is) where he is from. He replies that he is from Gorakhpur, I exclaim, ah, that is a familiar place, if I remember correctly the train to Delhi from Hyderabad passes through Gorakhpur. This kid, along with his colleagues are all doing wood work and painting. They are of the same age and are from the same place. They speak apart from Hindi, Bhojpuri. I have heard a folk song in Bhojpuri in a hindi film, and liked it.
I am happy with the way they execute and finish their work. They do a very good job at their work and the only thing that upsets me is that they are doing work that is inappropriate for their age. The kid I spoke to today dropped out of school when in his 8th standard, and when I ask his why, he replies majboori tha, isi liye chodna pada. My heart pains to know this story of his. Now, he doesn’t want to go to school even if he can afford to do so, as he says that he lost interest in it now. He now earns money, and is pretty good as his work.
The question here is, whose loss is it if the kid drops out of school never to return to education? Is it the individual? The society? Or is it the nation? Can we afford to let these children stay out of school, whose loss is it anyway? I wonder if we have answers to these questions.
When I was in school, at times I was afraid to go to school, because I would not do my home work or I would be late to school or I would get low marks, and would get bad remarks from school. I thought it was my duty to go to school and I did not know anyone who did not go to school. Moreover my parents valued education, and I went to on to complete my Bachelors and even my Masters.
Now coming back to the majboori, what can we as a society do so that the majboori of the parents does not fall on the children? Let our children lead their lives as children only and let them charter their own course towards adulthood, with support from family.
Next day, I speak to them again, and I have some more updates: Gorakhpur is about 12 hours from Delhi, and is close to Chattisgarh, a 16 hour train journey from Secunderabad. These kids, are migrant labour here. They have come here during the lean agricultural season back in Gorakhpur. They have learnt there work right here. The person I spoke to today is the older brother of the person I spoke to yesterday, and he passed class 10. And he did not continue further because ‘ man nahin tha aur ghoom ne ka shok tha’. ‘Aur aage jake, isi kaam mein lage rehenge’ is his reply. That’s the story of India’s migrant labour.
They get away from education, before they bear fruit. Pick up a trade and continue in it, alongside looking after their fields. Their wages are usually below the prevailing rate in the market, and they do not have any protective gear. If we see ‘India Shinning’, it is because of the sweat and toil of these people.