Rural children as domestic help in towns on the rise

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Who is responsible?

Children from Chinthong MAC constituency being kept as domestic help in Nagaon and other towns in the name of education is not a fresh piece of news to the people of Karbi Anglong. Chinthong MAC constituency is one of the most remote constituencies in the district and it is understandable that parents find it very difficult to send their children to school. Some parents readily agree to send their children with wealthy families in towns with a hope that their children will get good education. During my college days, I was going home from Guwahati. On reaching Nellie, I boarded an ASTC bus that runs from Nagaon to Ulukunchi in West Karbi Anglong. Inside the bus, I saw a group of children speaking incessantly in Assamese. All of them were between the age group of 7-13. It was in July and probably they were going home for summer vacation. The proud parents who went to fetch them from Nagaon were chitchatting among themselves and I heard one parent say “We didn’t send our children to Nagaon in vain. They are now very fluent in Assamese”. After sometime, I realized that those children couldn’t speak their mother tongue and their parents had to talk to them in Assamese language.

I am not against any community and it is not their fault that those children in the bus couldn’t speak in their mother tongue. Those children may not be victims of domestic violence or child labour and there are many good families who treat other children as their own. It is good that they can speak Assamese, English and other languages. The more we speak languages, the better. However, I want to speak about the vulnerability of our people. Are we so vulnerable that we have to send our kids to Nagaon and other towns and made them to stay in others’ house as domestic help in order to give them education? The price those children pay for their education is their mother tongue, for, it was snatched away from them. In this kind of situation, both the children as well as the guardian are helpless and the weaker ones had to ultimately surrender.

Therefore, let us question ourselves. Why do some parents choose to keep their children in the homes of wealthy people in a far away town rather than keep them with themselves and send them to schools in their vicinity? Did they send their children to big towns with a hope that they will be imparted with the best of knowledge or because they have no other option left? It is a matter to ponder upon because one child died in a very mysterious condition in Nagaon few years back. As I have already mentioned, many wealthy people might treat those kids as their own, but there might be some not so good ones due to which, incidents like brutality and even murder happens. As citizens, what is our responsibility in this kind of situation? Is it due to helplessness or are there any other problems in our district relating to education that made those parents lose hope? Will awareness programmes help? What can we do so that parents will not send their children to town areas as domestic help in the name of education?