Woke up early as I always do! I think it has been ages since one one partook in New Year eve frolics that keep you awake till the wee hours and then have you get up in a haze on the first day of the year. For quite some time now the husband and I have celebrated New Year eve by tucking ourselves under warm quilts and enjoying a gourmet meal. The quilt is de rigeur in a city where temperatures take a dip at the drop of a hat and when you have a room on the top floor with umpteen windows that are badly insulated and cold cement floors, then you have follow a rather ungainly dress code or warm jammies and thick woollen socks. The husband even dons a woollen cap but I have not quite given it to that! A gourmet meal in bed does mean me having to pop out from the warmth of the bed and dash three flight down to the kitchen to prep and get the next course, but I do not complain. To the recluse like me it is far better than noisy party with nonsensical alcohol driven conversations. To the teetotaller it is quite a nightmare. Anyway all this means that January 1, is a day just like any other.
At some point in the morning I do pick up the newspaper and glean throughout it, and I did so today as any other day. Two articles caught my attention. The first one was entitled: Stop forced begging by children says HC, and the other Shivering Delhi makes its Gods snug. The two articles once again bought to the fore much of what I feel is wrong in India.
The plight of children begging has riled me no end and actually the first avatar of project why was an effort to stop children begging. It was a naive approach of trying to get an insensitive and heartless city to stop giving money to children and give them nutritive biscuits instead hoping that the market force that makes begging a good business enterprise would fail if biscuits replaced coins! Though we had elaborated a sound plan, it never took off as one did not manage to convince people to change from coins to cookie! I have time and again shared my despair at the callous acceptance of children begging by society across the board: be they individuals, administrators, politicians or anything else. It is almost as if the fact that a child knocks at you car window and solicits a coin was part of the city’s decor. You may or may not roll down your window and hand over a coin, put not because of compassion but as a way to rid yourself of nuisance. How many of us ask themselves the question as to why in a country where education is a constitutional right is a child allowed to bed? And that is our attitude vis-a-vis child labour and other aberrations. Have you ever bothered to call the child welfare people when we see a child employed in a friend or neighbours home? hell no! We all want to remain politically correct and are never willing to to step out of the box.
One should be outraged at the sight of a single child begging or working and not only outraged but willing to do something to remedy to the situation. We leave it to NGOs and then bask in the glory of an Indian Nobel prize winner who had the guts to do the right thing.
Why should some rare concerned soul need to knock at the doors of Justice right a wrong we all see and ignore. Once again the High Court has expressed concern over forced begging by children. Why should it be the Courts that need direct the State to create facilities for proper education of children who are found begging. Are not all the children the responsibility of the State, a State that taxes us with alacrity in the name of education. If we quietly play an education cess each time we eat out, should we also not get indignant each time a little hand taps at our window. But then that means having a conscience and some compassion, the two Cs that seem to be in permanent abstentia.
Today the High Court of the City has reminded us of children and their rights. Will anyone hear is any body’s guess? Will it be part of any body’s New Year resolution list?
The other article may see ludicrous. With the city under a bitter cold spell, guess who is being smothered in woollies: The Gods! This is not a joke. For the past days the citizens of Delhi have been wrapping them up in woollens like anxious parents. What I am asking about is the stone idols. Shawls, cardigans and mufflers are the latest offerings and the idols and in one temple the deities are clad in woollens from top to toe. Hinduism is anthropomorphic but this is rather over the top. I wish the same ‘devotees’ gave the woollens to children and homeless people who sleep in the open in this biting cold and even die.
Religion is the flavour of the day. We have the sudden spurt of conversions, the tom-tomming of Hinduism, the absurd self styled God Men who rape and castrate, the one that has been shut in a freezer and whose followers await his resuscitation and even one who calls himself love charger and has turned himself into a rockstar. And now our stone Gods who not only feel hungry 24/7 and need to be fed but also feel cold and need to be smothered in woollens.
Why is it that we do not feel the same way about the children who beg in the streets and sleep under the sky. They too feel hungry and cold 24/7 and need our concern. Will 2015 be the year we finally have the courage to open the eyes of our heart.
Children have the right to be fed, the have the right to shelter, they have the right to education, they have right to play and laugh. They have a right to a childhood. I wonder who hijacked theirs?