friend in deed: A jharcraft store in Ranchi
Hate child labour, love the child’s family.
Jharcraft will soon adopt this simple concept, the bedrock of all successful child labour eradication schemes across the globe.
Teaming up with state labour department, Jharcraft will link 2,000 families of enrolled child labourers from Ranchi and Sahebganj — pilot districts — with skill-based activities such as jute crafts, embroidery, kantha stitch, hand batik, fabric painting, candle and folder making and weaving.
The logic is this. If parents learn to weave or create artefacts, they can feed the family. Then, children don’t need to work as maids or dhaba and motor mechanic helps and can instead go to school.
Labour department has already spoken with Jharcraft officials on generating employment opportunities for parents of identified minor labourers in the two districts.
In addition, these adults will also be linked with government schemes.
The cost of the training programmes will be borne by the state industry department of which Jharcraft is a wing.
The duration of each course and day-to-day logistics of running each will be decided by Jharcraft officials.
Sunil Kumar Burnwal, state labour commissioner, added: “We have spoken to the state industry department and are trying to kick-start the training programmes. Based on the response in Ranchi and Sahebganj, we will extend the ambit to other districts also.”
Burnwal added that in principle, it seemed the plan would work.
“Pulling out minors from the workforce will work only if the parents are equipped with skills they can market and earn regularly. We are already in the process of linking families in organised sectors. Jharcraft is an obvious choice. It plays a vital role in livelihood promotion activities and has a proven record of raising family income,” he added.
Jharcraft managing director Dhirendra Kumar echoed it was a good idea.
“A feasible idea is one with a sound logic. I think the state labour department is on the right track. If adults in a family can earn on a regular basis, children wouldn’t need to sacrifice their childhood. We have already started working in this direction. We already have received the list of families to be trained from the state department,” Kumar said.
Once the parents successfully complete various craft-based training programmes, they will get jobs as craftspersons at the urban haats or can work out of home.
“For starters, we’re hoping each family earns Rs 3,000- Rs 5,000 per month,” smiled Burnwal. “That is enough to pull out a child from washing dishes for a monthly pittance.”
He or she can head for school, instead.