By Aditi Mishra:
We wake up every day, finish our daily routine and head towards our work. While passing through the lane we barely notice the children on the street, playing or fighting amongst themselves. They wear tattered clothes and have mud smeared all over their bodies as if they haven’t had a bath for ages. These children are present in almost every locality in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and leading cities in India, with ages varying from infants to teens.
It hardly crosses our minds that who their parents are, what they do, how these kids survive etc. Their life is lead in an obscure way. They live on the streets under the sky and have an entire different world of their own, unknown to us, the ‘common people’.
They bother you while you are having an ice-cream, appearing out of nowhere and bluntly asking you to give away your ice-cream to them. When you eat some street food and throw the leftovers in dustbin, they pick it up and run away. They beg and demand nothing less than 10 rupees as if you owe them. If you try to ignore them, they will keep bugging you and when you warn them of bitter consequences, they slowly turn away giving an ugly look.
At times they take up small chores like selling flowers or working at small dhabas. These children learn quick ways to outsmart people. They often thus earn looks of contempt for being cunning and outspoken.
Such children are actually in a highly vulnerable state in our society as they learn things on their own from their surroundings since there is no one to teach them and they become the first ones to indulge in all wrong things. Many of the children get addicted to drugs and since they cannot afford to buy them, they turn to cheap alternatives like whitener or cough syrups which can adversely affect their health.
Is it the way these children should be brought up? What are they going to make of themselves in future? It is not difficult to make out that their only career options are beggary, chain snatching, theft, burglary etc. What should be done to help these children? Even their parents are poor and illiterate, thus unable to understand that such upbringing is not right, nor do they have the means to do anything about it.
The solution lies in educating these children, and not just education, but imparting quality education for free is very much needed for their development. They account for a good portion of the population and it is very necessary that they are looked after well. We should lend our hand to support the cause of such children as they too are the future of our country and bear effect upon its prosperity. Ask them once if they would like to study for free, and see how they nod their heads in agreement. Go ahead and teach them the basics. You need to start somewhere.