The occasional glitch with the sound system could neither keep the stars from shining nor prevent the audience from roaring at the Arunodhaya Youth Day carnival held recently. The carnival, which took place at a jam-packed hall in Royapuram, was organised by the Youth Forum of Arunodhaya, a NGO working among Chennai and Thiruvallur slum communities to uproot child labour and promote children’s rights. Creative performances, running the gamut from traditional Karagam dancing and parai drumming to American-style break-dancing, were followed by speeches by Minister of Fisheries K.P.P. Samy, Arunodhaya executive director Virgil D’Sami, Loyola College Professor Bernard D’Sami and Assistant Commissioner Senthaamarai Kannan. “With the establishment of the Youth Forum one year ago, we wanted to inculcate a sense of responsibility in former child labourers. We want them to take care of their own community,” said Ms. D’Sami. According to 19-year-old Youth Forum member N. Deepan, Arunodhaya’s efforts are paying off. The winning team of a city-wide cricket competition, organised by the Youth Forum, received their prize from the Minister for Fisheries K.P.P. Sami.
As the world celebrates Girl Child Day, data from several sources point out that Tamil Nadu has a long way to go towards uplift of its girls. Child labour, early marriage and abuse, among other issues, continue to hamper the growth of the girl child, data from several NGOs working with children suggest.
The dream seems to be over with the Gulf losing its glitter and allure as a land where money and more money can be made. With the global economic recession kicking in, nearly five lakh skilled and unskilled Indian workers are packing up and leaving the Gulf region.