What do they need ?

what-do-they-needAll Indian streets may not have modern skyscrapers or well built sewers or luxury SUVS but they all do have one thing in common – BEGGARS – homeless people who you can find in the corners of the streets seeking financial help – the best way I can explain. Once I remember seeing a beggar in the streets of Sharjah city (United Arab Emirates), everyone passing by looked at him with astonishment and majority showered help to him. This happened because there it wasn’t an everyday sight unlike India.
Azad India Foundation tells us that there has been an increase in the number of people choosing to seek alms in India -” According to a recent survey by Delhi School of Social Work there has been a phenomenal increase in the numbers of beggars in India. In a decade since 1991 their number has gone up by a lakh. There are some 60,000 beggars in Delhi, over 3, 00,000 in Mumbai according to a 2004 Action Aid report; nearly 75000 in Kolkata says the Beggar Research Institute; 56000 in Bangalore according to police records. In Hyderabad one in every 354 people is engaged in begging according to Council of Human Welfare in 2005.” Here we are talking about the major cities of the country and look at the figures !
Well the worst part of it is that we have kids doing this – begging . Most heart-breaking scenario you wish to see when you really hope your country would jump into the list of the developed nations sometime soon. How can this ever happen when your children are out in the streets wearing nothing but a torn shorts going around asking for money, from car to car in the traffic signals or in garbage dumps or under the city flyovers.You can see a girl child walking with a small kid in her hip or a mother with a small infant when you get out of a restaurant or after watching a movie from the cinemas.
Well, I would like to share one small incident that I happened to experience few months back in Pune. In Pune the number of child beggars is unbelievable, you can see them in almost all crowded traffics signals and streets. I was walking on one such crowded street with few of my friends, crowded street- hawkers selling cheap wallets and t-shirts, ice lollies and lemon juice,pirated books,couples walking down the road hand in hand and then child beggars. Kids no older than 10 or 11 walk around the place going from one passer to another clinging on to their legs and hands pleading and crying for money. Most of these kids would have an infant with them adding to the plight. All this was a strange sight for me and confused me a lot.
Couple of these kids came to us, my friends looked at each other blankly and confused not knowing what to do but I had a plan. I walked upto a small shop nearby and bought a few biscuits. I walked back to those kids,all this while I was filled with pride and happiness.The thought of the smiles that the kids would have when I give them the biscuits took me to the heaven. I still saw the blank look on my friends’ faces. I slowly approached the kids who were now clinging on one of my friends’ leg. They looked at me , actually at my hands (the attractive biscuit packets took their attention) and before I could do anything else they grabbed it from my hands and swiftly put it in their old bag. I was disappointed, I did not see the smiles or the contentment in their faces. Now it was me who had the confused blank look. But what surprised me the most is that after this small scene the kids again clung on to our legs and started begging for money “Bhaiya please bhaiya DUS RUPIYA DENAA ( brother please brother give us 10 rupees”. You know that feeling when you have made a fool of yourself and you have no idea how to get out of it as if nothing happened to you or to your pride, well that was it, I was going through it at that moment.
We were literally stuck there, right in the middle of the footpath still confused (but my friends had a little smile in their faces – mocking smiles).The people did not bother much, they just continued walking as though nothing strange was going on, they overtook us and some even walked between us pushing us apart, no one really cared much. This wasn’t an unusual scene here. Finally it was when one of our Marathi knowing friend shouted we would call police that these kids left us. As you all must have guessed I was the clown through out the way back.Friends they don’t miss such opportunities, taunted me, they still do. But this was more than an embarrassing situation to me, it put a thought in my mind.
Why do they beg ? Basic reason – Hunger. Well actually I don’t think that my biscuits would end their hunger but my biscuits would be enough reason for them to leave us and go to another passer, then why did they insist on giving them something as money itself. I thought about it not once but many times but couldn’t ever find an answer for it until one day when a friend came to me with an intention to start a NGO. He went on about health, education and many other aspects. I eagerly waited for him to start this topic which was running through my mind since the day it happened. He did not mention anything about that so I decided to put it up.
“What about the numerous child beggars in the streets ? We could do something for them, right ?”
He smiled and shook his head.
“Nothing…we can do nothing about it. These are activities backed up by amazingly huge mafia groups and there is pretty much nothing that we can do about it.”
MAFIA. That word rung in my head again and again, those kids’ faces appeared before me one more time, their plead now made complete sense. It wasn’t a plead to beat their hunger but to save themselves from the thrashing they were going to get that night if they did not make their contribution. Every child under the siege of this mafia in the nation goes through incredible pain and misery. Something we fail to see or even think in our busy lives and our life events that we think is miserable. We all think of them and pity them as we sit in a city bus stopped at a signal with our iPod playing our favorite song, watching them knock the glass window of every car and it will last only for a couple of minutes. When we receive a text message or a notification from Facebook the feeling and sympathy disappears into the deep darkness in our minds just like these kids would . I type this with complete sense that there is nothing that anyone could do about this but with a slight hope that one day we would all come together realizing how important the lives of these kids are and then help to make a change, a difference in their lives forever.

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2 thoughts on “What do they need ?

  1. There is much that we feel helpless about! And begging is one of them. Especially the kids who beg.
    So much so, there isn’t much pity you allow yourself to feel, too, because that may then consume you with guilt at the life you have as compared to theirs!
    Kudos to you, for your gesture, even if you were mercilessly teased about it!

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