Darpan—Child Labour in India is a thought-provoking short film of a 12-year-old boy named Bholu, who had to leave his school and work in a hotel due to some tragedy with his parents. He is not working forcefully but just helping his parents who would have died due to their inability to earn their daily bread.
They are now dependent on their only son for daily needs. Unfortunately, the owner of the hotel, Rahim chacha, who gave work to Bholu, so that he could help his parents, gets arrested on account of Child Labour Act for keeping an underage child at work. But, in the end, something unexpected happens. The police and the people who come to arrest Rahim Chacha get to know about the helplessness of the parents and the child to work.
In this film, Bholu is working because he can’t see his parents die due to hunger, he is working because he cannot beg, he is working because he is not a loser. He is just trying to be a good son who has taken the responsibilities of his parents on his shoulders. This film on child labour in India shows the other side of child labour in India, which should be called ‘child helplessness’.
This film has revealed the flawed child labour law in our country. Yes, the Child Labour Act suffers from several flaws. As per this Act, those employing children below 14 years of age for any work, except where a child is helping his family post school hours or during vacation, can get up to two-year imprisonment and maximum fine of Rs. 50,000. The law bars employment of “adolescent” -a person between 14 and 18 years of age– in hazardous occupations like mines and inflammable substance or explosives. However, this so-called Act is not applicable for a child working in films, advertisement or television industry or in family business.
What does it mean? This new Law prohibiting only those children from work who cannot go to school, who do not want to beg, who just want to help their parents, who badly need to work to save their family. The Child Labour Act in our country must be MODIFIED otherwise the number of people dying due to hunger and children begging on roads would only increase. If we really want to save these children, we must first find out why they are working. No one has the right to stop any child from working if they cannot provide food to his family. Period.