Due to unforeseen circumstances I found myself riding the MTC bus today afternoon while returning from college. As we were sitting in the bus in the sweltering heat, waiting for the bus to start I noticed a woman sitting with her two children in the bus shelter. Obviously she was a beggar woman, just like the hundreds of other such women spread out throughout my country. Now this lady noticed the bus waiting and sent up her daughter inside the bus to beg for money. This child of hers was hardly 3 years old with brown malnourished hair, dirt smeared face wearing dirty shorts and slippers 3 sizes too big. Used to watching her mother beg for money, she aped her walking through the length of the bus.
Now this girl hardly 3 years will be stripped of all her rights. She would never see the insides of a school, would never know the comfort of good family and good food, would never experience the basic things of life. Her family is what we call “below poverty line” in India. They are unable to give themselves the basic necessities of life.
This girl is just one such person living among the millions upon millions of poverty stricken individuals in India. We grow up watching poverty and sickness at our door step. Everyday I see men completely out of their senses scavenging the dustbins for the mere sight of something edible. At every traffic signal I see young girls carrying sick children tap on the windws of newly waxed cars begging for money. Little boys running behind pedestrians. This is the everyday life if you live in India.
Asking what the government is doing about all this is a futile question. Rehabilitating the poverty stricken and slum dwellers all look very ethical in theory, but in practicality yields no fruit. The slums of Daravi in Bombay made famous through Slumdog Millionaire were offered to be rehabilitated in an ampartment complex constructed especially for this purpose. But what did the slum dwellers do? They got their sanctioned flats, rented it and continued living in the slums. If you did not agree to do this voluntarily, the flats were snatched by goondas and were given for rent.
This is the true situation of India. The more you try to avoid looking at it and acknowledging its prescence, poverty continues to glare back at you, grimier than before.