February 22, 2010

A Prickly Conscience

As usual, I was returning home to Gurgaon late on Saturday night from Delhi and saw these two kids at a traffic stop plying some sort of business. This is of course usual at every traffic light in Delhi.

Only thing that struck me was that it was 11:30 PM at night when I saw these kids ... they can't be more than 10 years old, I think. One can take solace that at least the 5-6 year-old street kids who strut their business during the day time are hopefully blissfully asleep for the night ...

I think it is such a shame for us Indians that we let this go on ... I think this is a crime that all of us are guilty of.

Another day, another story: I was just doing an evening walk in posh Gurgaon and I saw a ragpicker girl - may be 6-8 years olf - carrying a sack and crying. I felt like crying as well. Luckily, a man, most probably her dad, came and handed her some money and the girl cleaned her tears and started walking.

The good news is that she was not lost - her 'home' was nearby. She walked some distance and waited for the traffic to clear so that she could cross the street. There were these street vendor families living there - plying earthenware. This was clearly her 'home.' What a loss ...

A last tale: I was recently in my home state of Orissa. I was travelling on some local train ... I don't quite remember and then these two kids - not even 5 years, may be - came near the seat where I was sitting. I started taking photos of them on my cell camera and the kid brother started posing for the camera like a Bollywood hero. I took photos so that I will remember their story - it's so easy to forget these tragedies while going about our daily lives and worrying about how to buy the next big-screen LCD TV and the latest flashy car.

I think Indians should somehow take it up on a war footing - a project to make sure that no kid is deprived of the opportunity to go to school. Certainly, no kid should be forced to make a living - whether by begging at traffic lights or doing other menial labor.

I need no further proof that we live in a God-less world ... but of course the idea of God is laughably childish.

Indians clearly have a very pliant conscience ... I see my colleagues loudly complaining about the taxes they have to pay to the government. I do not see them similarly worried about these street kids. Of course, as far as females are concerned, it's all about their kid, how smart and cute and clever and intelligent the kid is ... what crap!

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