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Balaknama: A Step Forward


Child Labour in Delhi

It is no secret that there are vast numbers of young children in India’s capital city who are forced to engage in child labour; however, what is all the more depressing is the fact that most of these cases are left unknown and unreported. Indeed, their silence gets lost amid the many other reports of child labour that abound; as reported by The Hindu, child labourers in Delhi are forced to work for over eight hours a day, with no rest days in between. This means that they lack literacy and education—and are hence left unable to fend for themselves and raise their own voices in protest of the unjustness they are subjected to. Nevertheless, this does not mean that all hope is lost—since a children-run newspaper, Balaknama, may be able to save them from their plight.


Balaknama calls itself the “world’s unique newspaper for and by street and working children”. It is an eight-page quarterly, which centers on the lives of children living on the streets of Delhi and neighbouring regions—and has an impressive circulation of 5,500 copies! The broadsheet is priced at 2 Rupees—an affordable and reasonable price, that will ensure a profit without discouraging people from purchasing the paper. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this entrepreneurial business is the observation that the reporters and editors are street children, who have themselves faced the hardships that accompany child labour and a paucity of awareness. These street children were rescued by the NGO “Chetna”—an organisation which was established to address problems relating to the health and development of women, young people, and children.

Aims of Balaknama

An editor of this ambitious and far-reaching newspaper is Chandni, who was encouraged by the NGO’s outreach programme to become a reporter, and to abandon her life of rag-picking, labour, and humiliation. As said by Chandhi, “I am very proud of editing this paper because it’s one of its kind in India. Children whose childhood have been robbed, have gone hungry, begged, been abused and forced to work write about other children who are going through similar tribulations.” Indeed, this newspaper aspires to raise awareness about the harsh lives of the children whose sufferings remain unheard—and to bring about a revolutionary, positive change. Furthermore, this newspaper is run in a highly organised and careful way; there are regular editorial meetings to ensure that the content remains strong and legitimate. Another important person of the Balaknama team is Shanno; she had a very difficult life under a drunk father—but still decided to channelise her privations into passion and diligence. In her learned words, “We did a sample survey of street and working children in Delhi in November and managed to track down 1,320 children living on the streets and working as labourers”. Despite the adversity these children and teenagers have faced, they still aim to ameliorate the opportunities and awareness of others who are suffering similarly—thereby making this a truly impressive, admirable enterprise.


This initiative by the youngsters in and around Delhi is undoubtedly one that has a great amount of potential to make a tangible, social change. It is common to view children working as labourers in degrading and tiring jobs; so, this wonderful initiative will not only train the Indian youth in extremely important tasks, but will also help raise awareness regarding the magnitude of child labor in the Indian capital city. It is also a powerful measure, since the youth of today are the future of tomorrow—and once the youth is extricated from the shackles of ignorance and illiteracy, India can look forward to a brighter, more illuminated future.

[Image Attribute: bykst]

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