Working Children in Art


It was Charlie Chaplin, the world's best known working child who portrayed his own childhoods in cinema THE KID representing the plight of the orphaned, destitute street child The dreams of this child is poignant and is reminiscent of a demand for the revolution to eradicate child labour from the Face of the Earth.

Chaplin worked in such professions as packing with pickles, washing shop windowpanes, playing violin on the street as a clown, entertainer. Truly street smart-Born of the Street!

The impact of this cultural product has been lasting: though not enough ~working children have increased a hundred fold in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Rajkapoor made bootpolish from chaplinisque influences~ The child had occupied the center of the moving frames~

Exclusively dealing with this theme is SALAAM BOMBY by Mira Nair the story of street children ~Many years have gone by when this story entered social conscience and exited~

What is the representation of the cause of the WORKING CHILD the world over in the plastic arts?

Tens and thousands of Arts and Artifacts are churned out everyday the world over as artistic consumption for an "aesthetically starved " people1 ~a third of whom are children, half among these children are those on the street or working in sweatshops~

Many are walking on the streets many more are starving and dying. We can't let our children starve, we can't let them be in darkness, we can't let them go bare, we can't let our future our children die~

Art, theater, music, literature has to reflect the needs of this important segment of society, we who inhabit Asia, Africa, Latin America have to especially tend to our children~

The market has seized the Artist setting patterns of business standards in Art dictating style and content. The Artist is successful when s/he has sold a work for a big price?! it is imperative to protect this market with a well worked out aesthetic philosophy~

Per sue Art for its own sake, so that the market may flourish says the high priest of Art-the Art dealer! ~

Art that is responding to life's processes is rejected by these critics as banal and propaganda!~

Introducing Kathe Kollwitz in her book, Carl Zigrosser writes "The term especially in the antinomy of ART vs. PROPAGANDA" is often loosely used~ In a sense all religious art is propaganda Art in the service of religion, yet no discredit is attached to it as such~ Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vince, Raphael, Raja Ravi Varma can't be rejected as propaganda? Can they?

Again if an Artist feels strongly about some issue or situation as Callot and Goya or Picasso did about war for example, their print message is not automatically excluded from the status of Art| ~PROPAGANDA IS A SPECIAL PLEADING OF A SORT~ "It can be ephemeral or enduring" If it is ephemeral it will be out of date when political tactics are realigned or when the issue is trivial or partisan. It will be unconvincing when the motivation is half-baked and idea not cast in terms of creative expression~

It will be a work of Art only if the appeal is enduring ~If the artists speak purely in terms of art, if his allegiance is not to party but to HUMANITY, if the issues are the eternal verities death, suffering, love children~

In India are over 80 million working and street children toiling in the most hazardous industries, doing the most difficult jobs. Half of our children are primary school dropouts, the literacy, of our country is backward contributing to the tremendous increase in the poor~

Everyday a hundred children migrate to Bangalore city 60 by train, thirty nine by buses and one more waking through~


I say they don't need our alms, they don't need to beg for our food, they don't need our houses to seep in ~

They are demanding that we change our mindset ~They want us to change our attitudes and values toward them ~Treat children as wholesome respected members of Society~

And every creative artist should respond and never detach himself or herself from this issues ~If you must choose between money, market and humanism. Choose HUMANISAM,

If you want to humanize the world childrenize it!

Art breaks barriers with respect and regard! It has an intrinsic sense of equality. It is an objective expression of a subjective social experience~

It unites all, it celebrates life. There will be so much of art, music, theater, dance, poetry, writings to eliminate child labour till such time soon, when this theme will be redundant and thrown to the dustbin of History~

The there will be only children in GONDWANALAND

Current Issue of India

Born on the street
Born to live on the street
Born tender
Born nameless
Born of the soil
Born to toil

Every child is BORN FREE so says the first article on CHILD RIGHTS
Free to sing
Free to dance
Free to play
Free to gain knowledge
Free to starve
Free to sleep under the stars~
Free to labour!

The modern society truly liberated all its members: young and old, the timid and bold, infants in arms, children in saree cradles, coming down the branches of mango and jackfruit trees! All children who could clasp walk a few steps~

The modern society, which bases itself on money and material exchange, evaluates the essence of life and living in these terms~

Every human being animal and vegetable is considered not on its intrinsic value, but its capacity to multiply money…Onions, rice, ragi, salt, bread, chilies, chicken, children for a high price!

Yes children have become an important element in the social production processes. Children have always contributed to domestic help in grazing cattle collecting firewood, tending to other children, cooking, traditionally in crafts and artisans works as an apprentice. But CHILD LABOURERS who work for 8,10,12 hours a day is the creation of a very modern society, starting with the industrial revolution~

Tens of thousands of people were drawn off the land from the countryside to form the urban centers, the mill and the factory. Mass uprooting of people from traditional work to modern work brought about a modern way of Life. Overcrowding of cities, the birth of slums and ghettos, mass cheap labour, cheap people. Accumulation of wealth and capital produced hunger poverty and free liberated urban-rural poor. The Exodus from the countryside is still reaching the peak, unabated.

Among many streams and rivers of Labour migrating to the city are newer ones.
Springs… rivulets of Children~

Deprived of basic needs of food, shelter and clothing, deprived of education and knowledge~ CHILDREN LIKE ANTS march into cities in search of work making the street their home, living by the stars in the sky!

Poor families have more children, because it means an extra pair of working hands not an extra mouth to feed~ They need these extra hands to procure money~ Money demands working hands, which is fast and cheap

And children meet this demand. They will not get primary education because they will not go to school~ They will grow up to be poor and hardworking….and fall into the POVERTY TRAP, which is a vicious circle~ They will marry to have an extra pair of hands~ Together they will produce more children to have more extra pairs of precious hands~ This is the secret of our people of being FOREVER POOR, toiling from the cradle to the grave~

Somewhere in this chain, there is a mutation~ The child runs out of home and his village and joins those millions of ants on the street~

And the children toil in hundreds and thousands of little units of Labour rooms! In small factories, in Hotels, Auto-Garages, in the match factories, in construction sites, in homes……..

Behind every match stick that strikes fire: behind ever motorbike that is moving, behind ever cup of coffee in a Hotel, behind every brick that builds the houses, behind ever silk sari worn by fashionable ladies and silk ties of suited gentlemen, behind 8% of this countries wealth are working children's hands!

This adult world is very unreasonable. How can a society with its tremendous development in science and technology employ children as labour?

The world shrinks into a global village through telecommunications~ Markets are expanding with the dawn of the ? com business. So also CHILD LABOUR~

A big lady, wife of a marketing manager in a big computer company was hitting Anita on the head with an iron rod till she was bleeding profusely. She then went to surf the Internet very calmly, while Anita was surfing in space for help~

The worst of the CULTURE OF VIOLENCE is the ENSLAVEMENT OF CHILDREN TO TOIL~ Perpetuating this submission of children to toil is the adult world~

Aware of magnitude of the issue and pretending to be na?ve.
Sipping coffee at a hotel on November, 14th on Children's Day, turning away when the boy comes to clean the table~

How can the values of and the attitude of adults towards children be changed? What makes an adult differentiate between his/her child, who should be free, play, gain knowledge and a child who s/he will employ?

The working child is "street smart", with very high self-confidence, a developed will to survive and to live talented. This acquisition of artistic performing skills development because of "the will to survive"~
Yet they are all denied the most important aspect of life CHILDHOOD!

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