Vivek Nagaraj


As Interviewed by Jai Nagaraj, March 18, 2019

Vivek Nagaraj: In His Own Words

I remember I was probably about eight years-old, and I would see little kids, probably my age, working in construction sites, helping carry bags of cement and sand, and helping adults. At that time, I had no idea that there was anything wrong with the picture -- that was what I had heard about and seen. I just felt fortunate that I didnít have to be carrying bags of cement.

[There are many more careers that house child labor, including carpentry, servantry, and production of textiles. However, Nagaraj mainly observed child labor in construction.]

I think it was hard labor, and the kids were probably being asked to do the same thing that the adults were. It was accepted practice. Later on, when I had grown up, I realized that obviously, it is not okay to employ little kids -- especially given that most of the time that employment was probably not out of choice, but out of need, and out of either their parents or somebody else telling them that they have to do it. So, clearly, itís wrong, and I think that just comes from a moral sense of whatís right and whatís wrong. You know that itís not right.

The fact that Bangalore* even at that time had probably close to 2.5 million people meant that you had to be vigilant. You had to be aware of your surroundings, you always have to be aware of where you are, so the onus was on you to make sure that you could keep yourself safe.

I wouldnít say itís safer now -- I think the dangers are just different. I think when I was a kid, I think the number of kids being kidnapped was probably fairly low. In general, I think society was simpler in certain ways. Now, the dangers are different. I donít know that the kids are safer today; I think itís just that the dangers are different.

As people have become more educated, the literacy rates have risen significantly over the past several decades. So, I would say that the issue is mostly resolved. I donít know that the issue will ever stop until there is a conscious effort and an understanding in society that it is not right, and it has to be fixed.

* more commonly known now as Bengaluru; Bangalore was the British term for the city of Bengaluru