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By: Niya Jose, PGDM-B

Tale of Innocence

Based On Real Life Situations of Children and Their Families at Firozabad

Each and every bangle women wear in embracing her beauty has a sad story to tell of the tradition of wearing bangles in India started way back in ancient times. However, even today women love to wear bangles to embrace their feminine grace, charm and beauty. Yes, it is the ornament which adorns the arm adding beauty not only to self but to customs, culture and tradition more or less.

The art of bangle making started long before around 2500 BC. The ornament worn on arms is nothing new to human civilization as it had a long history. A statue of a dancing girl wearing bangle on the left arm was found in Mohenjo-Daro civilization's site which was followed by several other statues from Indian cities which show the spread of bangles across India. The article is not about adorning the beauty of bangles, but the focus is on the plight of Innocent children and their families in the city of Firozabad.

Firozabad is a quaint little city in India located in the Western interiors of Uttar Pradesh which is widely known as the City of Bangle. Earlier the town was known to be Chandwar Nagar famous for glass and bangle works. But, during the reign of Akbar the Great his army was led by a man named Firoz from where the name Firozabad originated. While featuring on the place about, 73.8% of the population lives in rural areas where the literacy rates are low since, their livelihood depends on Small scale industries which are under developed. The city is also a major Market centre where, more than half of the workforce is engaged in manufacturing activities. Above all, this place is known for extensive child labour!!

Firozabad is known to be a hub for the Bangle making industry. Clinking bangles of different colours in Sardar bazaar, has been a visual treat for the people at Firozabad. Hence, the city is known to be the 'Suhag Nagri'. Sardar bazar is not only known for the beautiful glass bangles it puts on every day for sale infamously, it is also known as a Market place where the slave trade still exists. Now, in the form of child labourers.

There are mainly two kinds of Child labourers dwelling in this city. The first –where children work part time and in another case, sometimes even children, under the age of Five work full time in industries. Meagre pay and unhygienic work conditions have left them to a situation of extreme trauma. There are cases reported where children are forced to work with their family in glass furnaces which are in the form of closed dins where they work in darkness.

Firozabad is more into manufacturing activities where they provide employment to more than 6, 00,000 men, women and children. Among this, large number of kids works in Glass industry mainly into the recycling of glass for the manufacture of Glass bangles. They face multiple levels of vulnerability and exploitation. In Firozabad (centre for glass bangle making for more than 250 years) the aspect of child labour is banned in factories, where the glasses are melted, stretched, wound around cylinders and cut into circles under sweltering, hazardous conditions. But once the glass leaves the factories, it heaps of clear coils carted through crowded streets then, the children are involved in all stages of forming glass into bangles. These children work with their families in finishing these bangles through joining the ends, soldering, shaping, colouring, polishing and decorating them with designs, stones etc.


As engaging as bangles may be, their making is not as engaging as we think. The making of bangles happens in every houses where there are dangers of open propane containers, fumes and burns. In the next stage where bangles are glued or sprayed with paint the fumes are worse than imagine. Beyond the obvious hazards, stress of this repetitive work takes a toll on the body. The task of bangle making even though it adds to their living it is hard, tedious and dangerous where meagre pay would be the ultimate gain for them, where the parents are left with no choice other than employing their children to this work without sending them to school. Hence, they perpetuate a cycle of poverty and ill health.

For every cause there is a reason and the reasons why these children are continuously put into work are:
•    Extreme poverty where their labour is necessary for the survival of their families.
•    Comparing to adult, children are more vulnerable, cheap and less likely to demand higher wages and better working conditions.
•    They do not have opportunity to go to school and grow up because their parents are employed with low wages where they even find it difficult to fill the tummy of their children.

These poverty and deprivation situations compel the children especially the child labourers to lead a pathetic life full of exploitation at every sphere of life. In India people give more importance to traditions and customs, especially in north wearing bangles is a must for wedded women. Each and every bangle those women wear holds a story of sacrifice of the children and people working in Glass furnaces. Out of every 100 children 16 children are engaged in exploitative child labour where their needed rights are violated. When wealthy parents are confused in adding charm to their daughter's wedding the needy, on the other side is struggling for their life existence.

Drop-out rate especially with girls is generally high in this place. Infrastructure and facilities run and supported by government are not figured appropriate where they miss addressing the concerns of these child labour families. Families live as migrants where all their benefits from government are denied as they do not carry identity card or any other supporting documents for entitlement. There are families even denied the benefits of PDS (Public Distribution System).

The inner voice we stifle on seeing a child undergoing a domestic help need to make itself heard. We forget that no matter what the situation is, giving up several innocent dreams to hold hard labour is never the choice of 7 year old, 10 year old or 13 year old. It is necessary to save their childhood and help them grew up heights.

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