At the corner of the crossing, there is this popular Indian fast food joint named ‘Ashu Bhature Wala’. About two years back, it opened in the name of Apni Rasoi, a vegetarian food restaurant. The restaurant shifted to some other nearby location and the owners opened a new fast food joint named Ashu Bhature Wala. The joint has become popular for Chhole Bhature, a north Indian delicacy. Early in the morning, I see the preparations going on. The aroma of spices can be smelled from 100 meters either direction. Doctors advise to shun such deep fried food but the invite is so alluring that even senior citizens like me cannot hold back.
The workers are in their banyan and under wears are in stark contrast when they present themselves later in the morning in the Ashu Bhature Wala uniform. They must be up much early in the morning say around 4 O’clock and can be seen working right up to 12 O’clock in the night. They go to sleep only after they have done the cleaning. During the afternoons, when there is not much rush, some of them may be resting by turn.
Some of the workers are below the age of 14. Law bans employing workers below 14 years of age. It is hardly followed and scarcely implemented. The authorities turn a blind eye or rather take a practical view of the situation. Thousands of children below the age of 14 work in factories, homes and other commercial establishments all over India. They are paid less, made to work long hours and generally exploited.
This is the age when these children should be at Schools. Free uniforms, books and lunch could not keep these children in schools. Parents give priority to what they can bring in cash rather than what they learn at School. The school drop rate is alarming. Efforts so far have not been in a position to make the difference in the life of these unfortunate children. Right to Education Act is a step in the right direction.
There is need both for skilled and unskilled workers. There is no denying the fact that higher education is not every body’s cup of tea. Basic education is essential for every one. The State should evolve a system where a minimum education up to 8th grade is imparted to each and every child before he/she ventures into any job. Thereafter there should be a system of imparting further education based on aptitude. Higher education should not be thrust upon.
I hope someday Ashu Bhature Wala will be in a position to hire workers with minimum education, pay them statutory wages, provide good working conditions and ensure the growth of these workers side by side its own growth which some one may like to call ‘inclusive growth’.