Sunday, November 05, 2006

Kids selling stuff at traffic lights

Just today, when I was travelling in Delhi (capital of India), I saw the same scenario happening that has happened to me (and I am sure, to lots of others) many times. I was at a traffic stop in South Delhi, when these 2 kids in dirty and torn clothes hop over to my window and wave wrapped small bouquets (4-5 small roses) in my face, asking for ten rupees. Every time I see this scene, I am really not sure what I should do. This time, there were 2 of them, one girl probably aged around 10 and a boy aged around 8. They look at you with faces of such misery, that one is not so sure as to what to do. Today, I got enough guilt about me driving around in a car to meet a friend, and here are these poverty stricken kids. I took one set over and handed Rs. 10 to one of the kids. The other kid promptly gave me an over more miserable face and walked away.

At the same intersection, there was this another small girl who was selling sort of papers. Now, I had no need of an evening paper at that point of time, and I refused. She promptly gave me a very miserable look and lightly touched her head on the bonnet a couple of times, and then walked off. I got even more flustered at that point of time. What is the best thing to do in such a scenario ? If somebody knows more about the situation of such kids, please let me know. Now, I consider that if such kids are trying to sell something, then it is not begging. But they try to induce enough guilt that you take the easy solution out and hand over the money. Is this money going over to somebody who exploits them for this purpose, and if this is the case, then I am actually encouraging this exploitation by making it seem more successful.

These kids should be in school, and should not have to work in such situations. Society needs to have a safety net for such kids. A few other articles that I have read claim that the Government allocates vast sums of money over to such measures, but most of this is money is stolen along the way, directly by the government chain or abetted by them. This remains a pity. If you ever see a government run shelter or school, the most likely chance is that it will be in a bad state, which is primarily because of misappropriation of money along with non-accountability.

It makes me feel more sad that I am ensconed in a comfortable job without being able to do anything about it (and not sure about whether I even try). I do applaud when I see something good happening, I do donate monthly to such charitable trusts which are setup to provide a better, more accountable way of providing help and support. But what more can I (or any of you) do ?

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 6:11 AM