Sunday Cover Story By Madhurima Dasgupta
CHALLENGES FACED BY CHILDREN IN CONTEMPORARY INDIAN SOCIETY
A child is the most precious gift of God who should always be protected and safeguarded against all kinds of social malpractices. Looking at the present scenario and condition of children in contemporary society, it gives me excruciating pain to celebrate a day of Childhood on the 14th of November every year. This is mainly due to the challenges faced by children in present society:
1. We survive in a society where almost every alternative day a child reports being sexually assaulted and abused even by their family members.
2. We also survive in a society where a girl child is not allowed to access schooling by parents due to the problem of dowry and household chores.
3. We survive in a locality which is haunted by the treacherous menace of ‘Child labor’ where every child below the age of 14 years is coerced to work under hazardous conditions in order to meet his or her basic needs.
4. We chokingly survive in a society where most children are even forced to solicit alms on streets with the mere hope of satisfaction of their hunger!!
5. We try to survive in a society where the menace of ‘Child marriage’ still takes place on grounds of dowry and is rarely reported (Place- Uttar Pradesh, Malda and Murshidabad districts of West Bengal, Rajasthan).
6. To top it all, the rate of child trafficking is also alarming in India where girl children are treated as objects of sexual pleasure and are perceived obnoxiously due to which they become victims of commodification.
Being a sociologist and a scholar whose cynosure is ‘Childhood’, it is indeed satirical to celebrate a day for ‘Children and Childhood’, given the present scenario of ‘little angels’.
However, it is also interesting to note about a new concept emerging ever since the dilution of the socialization paradigm for the upbringing of children. The New Sociology of Childhood disregards the gender socialization paradigm where children are regarded as passive receivers but rather proposes that children in present society are active agents, who interpret their culture in their own ways and also engage in their peer group culture. This is termed as cultural or interpretative reproduction (James, Jenks & Sprout, 1998).
Though 14th November marks the birthday of the great political leader and former (first) Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the present circumstance turns one skeptical to dedicate a day to children. Though it is utopian to witness an apolitical society with the absence of social problems, the day is still awaited when CHILDREN (our future generation) will be free from all such social challenges and menace and will be educated to be empowered as true and knowledgeable human beings!!!