As many families with family businesses in the developed world worry about succession issues, family constitutions, how much the dividend should be this year, etc., I found it a sobering moment reading The New Indian Express about children working for the 'family business'.
In the developed world we encourage our children to work in the 'family business' to get experience and understand how the business works.
In India, it seems that there is little choice whether the children work in the 'family business' or not. Is this exploitation of the younger members of the family to keep manufacturing costs down, or is it genuine need for help in the business or is it to give them experience of the family business?
You can read the article and decide for yourself.
However, what it does do is opens your eyes to what life is like at the other end of the 'family business' spectrum.
It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men, they say. But what if the children are broken long before they become men? What if, robbed of their days of innocence and play, they never transit naturally, as they are supposed to, from the ‘age of protection’ to the ‘age of preparation’ before hitting adulthood when they’re equipped to face the realities of life? At a time when they’re meant to be learning new subjects and skills in school, what if they’re sent to slave in factories and ill-lit godowns, and rewarded with beatings and starvation or at best, a monthly salary of under `100? The scenario may sound like a Dickensian bad dream to some, but it’s a reality for lakhs of poor children in this country.