Stories about child labour

Children’s Day: They belong in schools, not factories

Some of us are liberals while others are conservatives; some of us are righteous Muslims while others are humanists. We have created labels and have given birth to unnecessary clashes, but what most of us have failed at doing is work. We are ready to speak but we are not ready to act upon our words. As John F Kennedy once said, “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future”. This quote perhaps sums up not only the importance of children, but also the need to turn them into such individuals that our future may be secured, because it ...

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Should she have declined the Nobel Peace Prize?

 The Nobel Peace Prize is given to those who have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”. I wonder which work of young Malala Yousafzai fell within any of these three criteria. To be fair to her, Malala did not ask for the Nobel Peace Prize, nor did she lobby for it. In all probability, her handlers did, because for them, it was the crowning glory of the agenda they have been pursuing through her ever since she was whisked away from ...

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Gandhiji would have been proud of you, Kailash Satyarthi

Mr Kailash Satyarthi has come a long way since his engineering days at Samrat Ashok Technological Institute, Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh, literally. My father, who was one year senior to this electrical engineering student, vividly remembers him as that shy, reticent, modest young man, from a middle-class background, who would come to the college in his staple kurta-payjama with a muffler tied around his neck. “Simple living, high thinking,” was his philosophy, recalls my father, a civil engineering student in 1970, adding that “he was different”. Mr Satyarthi would be aloof and would rarely mingle with others. One thing was clear to ...

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Can Modi become a role-model for the children of India?

When we earn something hard, we flaunt it too often. This is exactly what has happened with Prime Minister Narendra Modi – he worked really hard to become the PM of the largest democracy in the world, and he doesn’t leave any opportunity to flaunt his newly acclaimed status. Delivering the Teachers’ Day speech and making it compulsory for all students and teachers to listen to it was just another attempt to tell the world that he has arrived. The huge Manekshaw auditorium in New Delhi was chock-a-block with enthusiastic students who asked him some well-rehearsed questions. Donning the avatar of Chacha Nehru (as ...

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The story of Pakistan: I am a dreamer but I am not the only one

We, Pakistanis, are full of dreamers. I say this not just as an expression but after observing it myself. While on my trip to the countryside, I came across many stories and dreams, and I found each story unique in its own way. Here are a few of the dreamers I met along the way… Photo: Salman Javed This is an 11-year-old boy and a proud shepherd. His household income depends on the cattle he grazes. He seemed like a very pleasant child. During our conversation, I found out that he wished to attend school, become a doctor, own ...

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In 2014, slavery still exists…

Children are beautiful, innocent, simple and sweet. Therefore, they are loved, cajoled, pampered and spoiled. They get special treatment, selected food, quality education, prompt healthcare and extra attention. But this is not true for every child. Not every child is considered beautiful, simple and pure. Some children are born to live as children while others are born to live as slaves. These slave children are neglected and forgotten. They are beaten day in and day out, humiliated and assaulted. They are the waiters, the maids and the mechanics. They are the ones you take one glance at and then look away, because they look ...

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FIFA World Cup 2014: Pakistani footballs kicking it in Brazil

Although I like hockey and cricket a lot more than football, sometimes I wish I didn’t. Football fans have proven time and again how crazy, passionate and involved they are when it comes to their love for the game. I guess one of the major reasons why I, and many other Pakistanis like myself, are not so interested in football is because we do not have a national team that does well during world cups and brings back trophies. Pakistan ranks 159th in the FIFA’s World Ranking, which is a dismally low level, but with the recent success of the Pakistani team at the Street Child ...

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Shhh… my kids are sleeping… I killed them both

As I write this, my little boy sits next to me with a mango juice box in one hand and the iPad in another. I glance at him and think of how wonderful childhood is. Cartoons of five monkeys jumping on a bed drive you into a fit of laughter. Hugs and kisses are aplenty. He sleeps on a warm, comfortable bed every night. When he’s sick, his mother wastes no time in giving him the medication he needs. When his father comes home from work, he hugs his little boy and kisses his booboos. He’s a lucky, lucky kid. He’s lucky ...

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Begging: Pakistan’s new profession for kids?

They keep navigating from one car to another, knocking at your car windows and doors until you pay attention to them. This is the time when we are waiting for the traffic signal to turn green. They make sure their appearance is seen and not ignored. They are adamant and won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Every summer I come down to Pakistan to spend time with my grandparents, and on my way home from the airport, I feel disheartened looking at these children navigating between cars. These are the handicapped young children on the streets of Pakistan asking for alms. The secret of getting ...

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Ibrahim Hyderi: Where children chew gutka and await their turn to eat

Enter Ibrahim Hyderi. From the foul and putrid smell that contaminates the air to the alleys upon alleys of shanty mud erections, this 4,000 year old basti (town) will leave you despondent. It has been deserted by the government, abandoned of literacy and polluted with all forms of abuse: child, drug and health. Its inhabitants lead a very dismal existence indeed. This crumbling and dilapidated town is home to a staggering 50,000 Pakistanis. As the rocking waves settle against the sweltering sun, a string of fishermen’s boats line the docks. The effortless beauty is deceiving for while Mother Nature may majestically ...

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