Saturday, June 27, 2009

The definition of childhood

The other day we had gone out on a weekend and while coming back we stopped at the traffic signal. We were looking out when this child caught my eyes sitting on the footpath. Infact I am sure it is a common sight for all of us at the traffic signal. Yes I am talking about little children begging on the streets. This happens right under the nose of the traffic police which is blissfully okay with it.

I saw three children sitting on the pavement. Two of them were around six to eight years old and the third child was maybe about one and a half to two years old. It was sitting along with these older children who were having an animated conversation. The baby had no underwear, was totally dishevelled and filthy sitting on the footpath and then after sometime it got up and started walking away from the other two who were quite oblivious. I was worried thinking that without any adult supervision, it might just walk into the heavy traffic. But the child just walked a couple of paces and stood there looking at people, picked up something from the ground. That was the last glimpse that I had before we started to moved on.

But that child stayed in my thoughts for a long time. What life will it have? We tend to protect our children for a very long time and here children as old as two years are on their own while whoever has got them there is out begging leaving the child alone.

Another comon sight is month old babies being used for begging. I read in the newspapers that these babies are hired for the purpose of begging and that they are also mildly drugged so that they sleep and hence let the adult beg in peace!

Today in the newspaperI read that the begging industry is a thriving business of 10 crore!! What is the government doing about this I wonder. Isn't using little babies for begging a violation of child rights? What about those normal born little children who are physically deformed later so as to qualify for a begging profession? Isn't this child labour in its worst form?

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