I refer to the front-page story “Why doesn’t Indian media cover itself”, Mint, 12 October. It is not that the Indian media is silent about other media. Very often our media is eloquently silent about matters such as food and drug adulteration, share price manipulations and so on—generally, investigations that require courage to uncover untruths and falsehoods. Also, the English language press is particularly vulnerable to its blind faith in its superiority vis-à-vis the language press. Many times, journalists working in the English language dailies in the metros have a poor knowledge about the states’ geography and history. India media urgently needs to do a very honest self-examination.
—Narendra M. Apte
Every year I see people talking about child labour. But we can’t get child labour out of our lives because we purposely do not want to. This is because child labour is the cheapest source of labour available.
I see child labour all around and yet, I am helpless and can’t do anything for these children. There is a man who sits in front of my house, takes clothes from people to iron them. But when the delivery of the clothes has to be done, he makes his children do it. His children have lost interest in studies and now, I don’t see them open their books, even once.
This is ridiculous. But the amazing fact is that these children enjoy doing this work. I asked a child once, who was working in a coffee shop at the railway station why he couldn’t get out and get some education… his reply was, “We get money by working here. We do not like to study. Money is everything for us.” We always blame the government but even we are responsible. I see children employed at fireworks factory, sweet shops and small industries such as basket-making and incense sticks and many more. Some time ago, in Chennai, the owner of a jewellery shop was caught. He had employed 14-15 children in his workshop where they had to sit and continuously melt metals for long hours in a small enclosure without any outlet.
Many children work in such an environment because they need money for their poor families and employers take advantage of this. They work for long hours in hazardous conditions but never get paid properly. I see children working as rag pickers collecting waste material. Even their parents do not discourage them. Money is of primary importance in their lives. When people report child labour to the police, by some or the other means the case gets shut as the person may have given the police officers a huge amount of money.
In the case of child labour we just do not want to react, which is really sad. We will never be able to get child labour out of our lives if we do not take the initiative.
—Oindrilla Guha Roy, Std XII student
Kudos to your report on the Sethu project, Mint, 26 September. The project was a disaster from the start. As is the norm in India, the environmental impact assessment was flawed.
Police heavy-handedness in public hearings and a closed approach by the project’s proponents contribute to the financial, ecological and livelihood mess that it will lead to. We need a sustainable and inclusive approach to growth and protection of vital ecosystems.
Hope business papers such as yours take a more proactive approach to the development angle instead of merely parroting what India’s corporations and politicians tout.