Magsaysay awardee objects to official reaction to girls' death
HYDERABAD: Shantha Sinha, Magsaysay awardee and secretary trustee of M V Foundation on Monday wondered how many more children would have to die before the system `wakes up'.
Reacting to the death of two girls who were working on cotton hybrid seed farms in Kurnool district, Ms. Sinha lamented that in spite of repeated protests and complaints against gross violation of children's rights the practice of engaging children in production of hybrid cotton seeds goes on.
"Huge profits are made by the national as well as multinational seed companies by exploiting young girls and boys who begin to sweat and toil from the age of six years onwards."
Expressing surprise to see the girls' death as a standalone unfortunate incident to be tackled at the level of the particular village and family of the children, she said no attempt was being made to see it as a pervasive issue affecting the lives of the thousands of children year after year. She was referring to how the District Collector and the SP visited the village, announced Rs. 1 lakh to the family and promised their brother who is also working on the same farm, a job in a nearby cement factory.
The women's groups have decided to pack all children back to their respective villages. "The solution is not in knee jerk responses, trouble shooting and heaving a sigh of relief that the current deaths have somehow been resolved without provoking mass pressure and mass outrage."
What needs to be done? Mrs. Sinha says it needs child wise planning, making a detailed survey of all the cotton farms in the district and constant monitoring to ensure that children are not engaged in work. "When a child is found in work, there must be a quick action of filing of appropriate case on the employer and taking it to the logical end and simultaneously sending the child to the nearest residential bridge camp or school.