As many poor and helpless kids sweat and drag for little livelihood day-after-day the whole year round, it is even more revealing when children labor from dawn to dusk, city after city from Karachi to KPK as May Day is ceremoniously commemorated indeed as a public holiday nation-wide and the world over
Parvez Jamil: As many poor and helpless kids sweat and drag for little livelihood day-after-day the whole year round, it is even more revealing when children labor from dawn to dusk, city after city from Karachi to KPK as May Day is ceremoniously commemorated indeed as a public holiday nation-wide and the world over. Poor kids labor for living on May Day, the holiday, in Karachi’s Kharadar, Meethadar, Ranchor Line, Jacob Lines, Orangi, Korangi and alike, including monkey, snake and street-charmers, batlipaper walas, chana jorgaram walas, golaganda walas, champi malish walas, car cleaners, flower-sellers, cart-pushers, street vendors etc.
Pitiful little ones, struggle for peanuts of income as the world celebrate May Day, be they puncturewala helpers of Gulberg or Chaburjee Lahore; little “chai walas” in back lanes of Jinnah Road, Quetta; minor laboring helpers of plumbers, masons and electricians of Saddar Road, Nothia, Chowkyadgar, Peshawar and so on. Imagine one of the greatest assets of Pakistan, well-known the world over, are our cute little laboring Sialkot kids’ magical fingers stitching the world’s best footballs for World Cup Soccer and sports goods for many international sports events including cricket and hockey as a big foreign exchange earner of Pakistan! Same is true of the magical fingers of our laboring little ones as helpers, even as mainstay of our cottage industry churning out carpets, textiles, embroidery, jewelry ceramics, cutlery, woodwork, quilt art, leather bags, hats, glass works, pottery, basketry, needle work, leather craft and metalwork as a fillip to national economy.
Though these minor maestros, who make Pakistan’s world go round in name, fame, dignity and honor, may be exploited by their pompous proprietors in practice, business ethics must be blended with the profit motive of the exploiting masters without labeling our little geniuses of arts and crafts with the stigma of child labor. Let there be a harmonious blend of profiteering with national interest, caring of and sharing with our startling little delivering kid assets of arts and crafts by creatively designing their work schedule with decent stipends, basic education in English, Maths and general knowledge and provisions for health and recreation.
It is simple: It is child labor if creative little kids’ promise and potential are exploited only for enriching the financial coffers of industrialists and proprietors. It is not child labor if small national and humanitarian concerns, without affecting profits, take on board our little magicians’ dignity of labor and personality development. If private-public partnership can design an able, noble, humble and gentle policy in replacing the stigma of child labor from our exploited image abroad and prove us a country of proven child assets in sports and cottage industries, it will cost them just nothing towards a better and brighter Pakistan. If there is a will, there is a way indeed.