Balasore, August 15 (Odisha.in) These children sell national tri-colour in a town in Orissa during the celebration of India’s Independence day every year on August 15.
This year also they say they will do the same on Wednesday. For them this day is just one of few auspicious days that provide them some money for living.
10-year-old Babula would be seen running after, cyclists, two wheelers and four-wheelers along the busy main roads at Balasore trying desperately to sell some pieces of national flag clutched in his tiny grimy hands.
Nine-year-old Chandni would be waiting for school children at Zilla School to sell out the Tricolours. If she wouldn’t get much more customers she then would head towards Public school ground to ferry the national flag.
Two more of their friends – Bimal and Jamuna would also be waiting to sell the last piece of their Tricolours they prepared a day before the occasions like Independence Day and Republic Day.
In fact, these four children led by one elderly people Mulia from the local basti area in Balasore town have been selling flags since last four years consecutively.
What do you mean by India’s freedom? It is a day which provides few money and square of meals for some days. .
No wonder, they don’t know why we observe Independence Day or why this day is significant. Even they don’t know who Mahatma Gandhi was. They even don’t know what Independence Day or Tricolour is.
All they know is that they have to sell as many flags as they can before the August 15 becomes history.
Since last one week, they have been preparing flags in paper and polythenes and caps to sell them on Wednesday.
“Mun jane nahin, August 15 dina kan heithila. Mun janeni Republic (he fumbled while uttering the word) mane kan. Kintu ame janichhu, ehi dina pataka bhala bikri hue (I don’t know what happened on August 15 day and what Republic means. But we know flags are sold easily on both the days),” says Babula.
Bimal, his friends accompanying him even don’t know the exact date. In their group two girls also sell the Tricolours and caps painted with national flag on front side.
All the kids are the children of daily wage labourers. They themselves prepare the I-Day items a week before it falls.
“We manage to make and sell no less than 500 flags for Rs 5 and Rs 10 each,” says Mulia, the elderly person accompanying them. “So, it makes good business sense to keep coming down to the town for a few days, to wave the flag and win two meals a day,” he adds.
“Last year I had sold 80 flags and my father gave me a new shirt. This year he has promised me to buy new shoes for me and my sister. So despite the cloudy weather, I am expecting I can sell at least 100 flags this year,” hopes 10-year-old Januma Behera.
Really, even 60 years after the independence the flag of freedom – Tricolour is still a resource for some for a square of meal.
These are not the only children who have to fight for a square of meal. According to a survey conducted by the State Labour Institute (SLI), around 17,000 children are working as child labourers, including 3,600 in the hazardous jobs in Balasore district.
They have shown a presence in all the 12 blocks in the district. The ban on appointing child labourers in work has fallen flat.
“The nation is observing the 60th Independence Day, this year. Since the day India got freedom, it has advanced in each and every sector.
But a question often comes in mind have the stalwarts of the country who fought tooth and nail and sacrificed themselves is the struggle dreamt about such a country, where children have to work for a meal?” asks noted freedom fighter Rabindra Mohan Das.