Living on the streets in India

A poor story

According to recent Indian Government committee constituted to estimate poverty, nearly 38% of India’s population (38 million) is poor. The fact is that India is facing the threat of poverty acutely due to lack of resources in terms of food, shelter and clothing.

On a recent trip to Delhi I witnessed a disturbingly large number of people living on the streets of the capital. What actually got my attention the most were the children who lived, slept and begged for coins, in order to survive on the streets. Much of the population of the city is oblivious about the existence of such children.

The striking disparities between these street children and those much cherished ones in their homes by their families is so glaring in this city that is the capital of the country. While one section of children enjoys the best of luxuries and the comfort of home and good schools, the other invisible section, though always around hardly gets noticed. The plight of these street children was something that touched my heartdeeply.

The street obviously weren’t cared for and cherished as the other children are. The street children were usually dirty, wearing ragged clothing and even no shoes. The street kids have an almost feral look about them. I saw kids roaming the streets at the time when I knew regular kids were in school. Perhaps, India’s backbone is the young Indian generation but the scene of poverty showed the worst face of India’s future. The street kids are usually alone, or with other street kids like them. These children sleep on those streets where the officials stand in the backdrop of signs of caution like “Pedestrain Crossing”.

One of the first sights that grabbed my attention was a young boy on one of the main streets in Jawaharlal Stadium area. I was waiting in a vehicle, my friend was taking care of business in one of the adjacent office building and I carelessly watched people around me. What I saw scared and intrigued me both. The young boy could not have been more than 11 years old. His clothes were ragged and he was barefoot as are most of the kids in Delhi. His face was tear streaked and dirty. It was obvious that he had not had a bath in sometimes. His last meal was God only knew when. The boy was lying curled up on the traffic side of parking cars. I tried to go there but at the same time my friend called me inside and when we came back we couldn’t saw him in that area again.

So many questions, so many children that seem to fall through the cracks of the system prevailing in India. My picture didn’t quite capture all of what I witnessed, of the things that seared my heart. India is a nation where the poverty is on the peak and no doubt it’s a problematic issue for the sociologists and economists and even for the bureaucrats and politicians of India as a whole. It indicates the condition in which a person fails to maintain a living standard adequate for his physical and mental efficiency. To build a strong nation, we must build a strong strategy against poverty because it’s a mother of crime. The more poverty increases, the more crime will become strong.

(I plan to one day go back and let my camera tell a better story)

(The author is student of Department Of Sociology University Of Jammu)