Bangaloreans do not need a calendar to remind them of the Christmas
season. Street kids in tattered clothes, selling Christmas goodies
like Santa caps, masks, flowers and other knick knacks do that.
Child hawkers bring festive cheer to city roads by selling stuff
associated with Christmas and New Year in the otherwise gloomy
fact, the advent of Christmas makes its first appearance in
Bangalore when a group of these kids criss-cross M.G. Road in the
city centre, selling the goodies.
Haggling with buyers, these child labourers, mostly in their early
teens, see the Christmas season as a time to make some quick bucks.
“People love to buy Santa caps. These caps are a big hit among
Bangaloreans, mostly youngsters,” Haider Ali, a 13-year-old hawker,
sporting a red Santa cap himself at Brigade Road, one of city’s
busiest shopping hub, told IANS Wednesday.
the past 10 days, I have managed to sell around 300 caps. Each cap
costs Rs.25. I sell magazines on roads, but during Christmas every
year I sell caps and red roses to festive revellers,” smiled Haider.
Child rights experts say in recent times the number of street
children in Bangalore has increased manifold.
exact figure or percentage of street children in Bangalore is hard
to provide as the number fluctuates. But due to the increase in the
gap between the rich and the poor in the city, we can easily say the
numbers have increased hugely in recent times,” said Vishal Talreja,
founder member of Bangalore’s Dream A Dream, an organisation working
for underprivileged children.
Susheela, convener of the Karnataka chapter of the Campaign Against
Child Labour (CACL), a nationwide network to eliminate child labour,
said: “It’s sad that in spite of so many laws drafted by the
government to help underprivileged kids from not falling prey to
child labour, a large number of them are bereft of normal childhood
and are forced to work to earn their livelihood.”
normal days, street children are either engaged in begging, rag
picking or selling newspapers and other goods on Bangalore roads.
“Christmas is the time to do some good business. On a normal day, I
can manage to sell around 20 stems of roses after a lot of
persuasion. But during Christmas and New Year time, I end up selling
around 100 stems a day,” said Kiran, 14, who sells roses of various
colours at Commercial Street.
Rahim, 12, another hawker, said: “As the New Year is knocking on the
door, I am selling calendars on roads. People eagerly buy them as
they cannot do without one.”
According to the 2001 Census, there were 12.7 million child
labourers in India (age group 5 to 14 years), with Uttar Pradesh
recording the highest number at 1.93 million., closely followed by
Andhra Pradesh at 1.36 million.
Karnataka had recorded 0.82 million child labourers, ranking
seventh, following Rajasthan, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.
However, child rights’ activists say India currently has around 50
million child labourers.