To say that we as a nation are insensitive is as sad as it is true. The latest example of this is an ad placed by the Delhi police to raise funds for its youth training campaign. The bye line used : “Help him learn how to chop an onion. Before someone teaches him how to chop a head.” The child in the picture is between 12 and 14. Child activists are up in arms. The creator of the campaign is trying his best to explain the bigger picture if there is any! It is obvious that the child in the advertisement is not yours or mine, but one from the other side of the fence, the kind everyone gives up on. he child destined to be ‘chop onions’ and the ‘heads’. The soft target for every bad deed that takes place in his immediate environment. The one everybody has decided can have no ambitions or dreams.

There are many aberrations in this ad! I will not delve on them. The ad also goes against the laws of the land be it child labour or Right to Education. Those only look good on paper. If they were properly enacted and implemented then no child would be working in our city. Just one look around and you find them helping their fathers at an eating stall, cleaning dishes at another one or tagging along their mums and learning how to clean houses and utensils. It is for the Delhi Police to ensure that child labour does not persist. Instead they come up with an ad that gives kids the options of chopping onions and should they not accept this then they are bound to be chopping heads. No matter what circumvented explanation anyone tries to put forth, to me it is nothing short of gory and unacceptable. Instead of ensuring that no child works and every kid attends schools, the Police is offering them a strange choice.

Every child has the right to dram and dream big. Even a kid born on the roadside had the right to
become what he wants. When we began classes more than 10 years ago for a bunch of gypsy kids on their roadside camp a young lad, around 14, joined our classes just because we had some foreign volunteers. Like every kid his age, he liked ogling at young girls, more so if they were blonde and pretty. Sanjay, however continued to study with us, unlike some of his pals who left along the way. I often use to tell these nowhere children that they too had a right to dream big, and that dreams did come true. Sanjay finished school and joined pwhy as a teacher. That was a great story in itself!

One day a film maker wanted to make a film on a feel good subject and to me the gypsy lad turned teacher seemed a great one. However that is not what it turned out to be. Sanjay shared his dreams with the film maker. He wanted to go to Bollywood. It did not quite happen but Sanjay became a model and walked the ramp not only in India but in Paris! Gypsy boy to ramp model! And he even starred in a movie aptly called Bollywodd Boulevard! Everything is possible.

Yet for too many, children who are born in underprivileged homes are destined to failure. This is not the way it should be.