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“Diwali raises concern about child workers”
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“Diwali raises concern about child workers”

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Abhilash Borah picDiwali is a celebration of light that infuses the atmosphere with happiness, but Abhilash Borah, 21, a Correspondent from Assam, India, sees it as a time to reflect on the needs of others and on the power of education.

This is the time of celebrations of joy, and the time of life to enjoy the moments with near and dear ones. The festival of Diwali has been a spectacular fest  throughout the rich history of Indian heritage, culture and tradition.

We enjoy. We cherish the time with our loved ones. Amazing gifts, finger-licking delicious foods, good times – we make ourselves comfortable and go with the groove of the festival of light, and indeed live life to the fullest.

Along with with spectacular display of fireworks, there remains the darker side of life. Some workers see nothing but poisonous chemicals and hazardous life-threatening substances. They languish in the dinghy factories of the fireworks makers in an estimated 20 billion rupee industry.

A wide range of reports indicates that rampant child labour has been employed in some factories. In hazardous conditions, with the bare minimum degree of safety and precautions, children work in the lethal production of fireworks and fire crackers with no safety and no safety equipment. With a flourishing industry of this kind, it is hard to estimate data about exploited kids, because on one side official data suggests something positive, while on the other side the real scenes are completely different.

Personally, I do believe the Sustainable Development Goals adopted at the Summit of the United Nations General Assembly 2015 can transform the vulnerable lives of hundreds and millions of children who are prone to child-labour, human trafficking, sex trafficking, and economic exploitation. Eight goals – no poverty; zero hunger; good health and well being; quality education;  gender equality and decent work and economic growth – are the basic universal right of every child to receive  proudly.

It is now up to the concerned authorities at the highest policy levels to make the promises happen. Activists must check the influence and keep track of both the positive progress and the failures in development, and ultimately the youth of the country must come forward to speak boldly and take stance against rampant discrimination and against wrong-doings. They must be the change!

Currently 59 million children are out-of-school with no access to education and learning. This is the biggest crisis we are facing in the 21st century. This is a threat that has the power to destroy the lives of millions and the ultimate power to kill the dreams of those who wish to ‘star’ someday by aiming to rise and shine against all the odds.

How amazing the Diwali celebrations would have been if we all could celebrate with the same intensity of joy! How beautiful the moments would have been if people from all strata of society could have joined in the celebrations! How amazing the surroundings would have been where the tech-savvy rich and the labourer poor, the distant children and the ageing parents, the toilet cleaners and the bosses celebrated together. The festival that brings lights  should also shine on the street child longing for food, the child-labourers who have nothing to gain, and the destitute beggars.

Maybe it is now our time to help the underprivileged and show the light. Let us work more actively and act as the torch bearers for change and for hope for the unheard. With this #Diwali let us pledge to make our voices for the cause of education for all. Education has the power to transform lives. It can change the course of a nation into a spectacularly developed nation, to build a nation of highest character.

photo credit: Fire at will via photopin (license)

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About Me: I am an Associate Fellow to The Royal Commonwealth Society, United Kingdom and India’s Global Youth Ambassador to United Nation’s A World At School global education initiative. International relations, education advocacy, science and society, journalism, and geosciences are my passion and interests where my heart lies. I am an ambitious young leader who aspires to one day lead India to the forefront of negotiations for nuclear disarmament in my quest to build a just, better, brighter and amazing world.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response.
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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