Daily Archives: August 30, 2014

Where do the children play?

The road is busy. For Mohan and his friends, it serves as a playground. They assemble here almost every evening to play cricket; the street providing a leveled substitute for a pitch. Roads as playground are hardly an anomaly in India given that the sight is abundantly familiar in most urban localities.

Right to play has been considered in UNCRC (Article 31) as one of the important right for the children. Despite the importance of play on a child’s health, cognitive development, self-esteem and life skills – it remains mostly a ‘forgotten’ right of the child; it is rarely taken seriously by the governments as a result children are unable to fully realize their right to play.

Playing in the open in urban settings continues to remain an elusive experience for many children, courtesy the shrinking spaces and lack of adequate equipment, resources available to them, driving youngsters to the road or other risk prone areas. Be it amongst debris on the fringes of cities and towns, abandoned neighbourhoods, gullies, streets, temples and even railway stations, children satisfy their appetite for play whether or not we provide them that space.

Urban development is progressively changing the landscape of urban childhoods in India. Lack of playgrounds and access to other safe area is indicative of the lack of inclusiveness of children in every sphere of society. And in a country where there are millions of children, the irony of too few places is hardly lost on anyone.

If simply the sight of playing children is so powerful in bringing a smile to our faces, perhaps its time we returned the favour. Let us recognise, respect and promote play as the right of every child.

A child plays in a dry river-bed after the floods have receded in North India (Photo- Sanjay Kanojia/ AFP)
A child plays in a dry river-bed after the floods have receded in North India (Photo- Sanjay Kanojia/ AFP)
Children play cricket in the back of a truck in Mumbai (Photo- Unknown)
Children play cricket in the back of a truck in Mumbai (Photo- Unknown)
Boys make electric poles as wickets while playing cricket on railway tracks (Photo- Newsinphoto)
Boys make electric poles as wickets while playing cricket on railway tracks (Photo- Newsinphoto)
A child catapults across the salt pans of Kutch (Photo- Reuters)
A child catapults across the salt pans of Kutch (Photo- Reuters)
Children climb an exposed bamboo scaffolding at the Marina Beach, Chennai (Photo-Arun Sankar/AP)
Children climb an exposed bamboo scaffolding at the Marina Beach, Chennai (Photo-Arun Sankar/AP)
A child runs through the narrow gullies of Jodhpur, Rajasthan (Photo- Steve McCurry)
A child runs through the narrow gullies of Jodhpur, Rajasthan (Photo- Steve McCurry)
Children take to the flooded streets of Kolkata during play-time (Photo- KPA/Zuma /Rex features)
Children take to the flooded streets of Kolkata during play-time (Photo- KPA/Zuma /Rex features)
Rocking himself on a cloth jhoola (Photo- Rajagopalan Sarangapani)
Rocking himself on a cloth jhoola (Photo- Rajagopalan Sarangapani)
Children playing on an open terrace (Photo- Rachell Carbonell)
Children playing on an open terrace (Photo- Rachell Carbonell)
Cross and knots on a street corner (Photo- Steve McCurry)
Cross and knots on a street corner (Photo- Steve McCurry)
A young boy plays with an abandoned rickshaw (Photo- Rajagopalan Sarangapani) A young boy plays with an abandoned rickshaw (Photo- Rajagopalan Sarangapani)
A young boy plays with an abandoned rickshaw (Photo- Rajagopalan Sarangapani)
Children play their games amongst water pipes, oblivious to the dangers (Photo- Babu/Reuters)
Children play their games amongst water pipes, oblivious to the dangers (Photo- Babu/Reuters)
Slum children ride a discarded ferris wheel in a dump yard (Photo- Unknown)
Slum children ride a discarded ferris wheel in a dump yard (Photo- Unknown)
Trundling a rubber tyre on an empty stretch of road (Photo- Rajagopalan Sarangapani)
Trundling a rubber tyre on an empty stretch of road (Photo- Rajagopalan Sarangapani)