ArpitGarg's Weblog

An opinion of the world around me

Posts Tagged ‘poverty

Tea boys in India

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img_7284Tea boys are a common figure in India. Young boys working at a road side hotel and distributing tea to shops and businesses nearby. This phenomenon is so ingrained in the society that no one even cares about the illegality of it. They are under the legal work age.

There are a few reasonings I have heard in support of the tea boy’s being employed. First is that it is a reasonable safe job for the poor kids which at least provide them two square meals. In a society devoid of foster home culture and without working orphanages, these young boys have to provide food for themselves. Most of them are abandoned kids or runaway kids. Instead of working in factories under slave conditions, its better to work out in open.

Another reasoning is for the kids who have to support their families from the very childhood. Either a drunk father or dead parents and number of kid brother and sister. What else will they do but to work. Given the lack of qualification and young age, where else will they get employment?

As I am writing about this topic, I feel miserable as I don’t see any path for them. I remember having a conversation with Mahesh (name changed), a kid in city of Agra, who was a tea-boy. He had no parents and lived on the street. Income from serving tea was keeping him alive.

Unless we get rid of poverty and expand the welfare, more and more children would be deprived of the childhood and forced to be a tea boy. A silver lining is that our PM himself used to be a tea boy in his childhood. The hope is there.

Written by arpitgarg

January 25, 2018 at 5:45 am

Posted in General/Society

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12 rupaye ki Roti

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Good heavens! 140/- for dinner in train. Looking at it from the point of view of when we eat out it’s penny. But looking at it from a public owned organisation, it doesn’t sound nice. Before you start berating me for being a communist, let me explain.

When poverty figures came out. There was a huge uproar. 12/- was the figure that was dicussed endlesslessly. A lot of our esteemed leaders who were part of Govt of the day, supported that figure. They went even further and justified it by saying, “Meal at 12/- is available aplenty in our country”.

No point naming individual leaders but that sounded like a collective voice of the Govt. The point is when on one side you say 12/- is the price per meal in India and on the other you charge people 140/- for a meal on wheels. Where is the disconnect?

When I see the same leaders trying to find the reasons why they lost, I can only laugh. This arrogance was why you lost. Insulting justifications to make  point on TV debates, was why you lost. People can bear with hunger, but if someone try to justify that hunger, it’s intolerable. This is why you lost.

Had they been humble enough to admit the failure. Had they sympathized with 12 bucks junta, things might have been different.

The sad part is all those leaders are affluent even in loss. And 12 rupaye ki roti is still soiled in blood.

Written by arpitgarg

October 4, 2014 at 7:59 pm

Posted in General/Society

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Deja vu: Life a universal struggle

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An American resident and an Indian taxi-driver in US.

American: Where are you from?
Indian: India.

American: Oh! India, I have heard a lot about it.
Indian: Really, what?

American: It has a great cultural heritage and history.
Indian: Yes, true.

American: I have also heard there is rampant poverty there.
Indian: Well, it’s not exactly so.

American: You are saying there is no poverty?
Indian: It’s not what I said. The things have improved.

American: Why were you forced to move out of your country to work here?
Indian: I was not forced. There are greater opportunities here.

American: You lack opportunities in your country?
Indian: A lot new opportunities have come up now.

American: What is the reason for poor state of affairs in India?
Indian: Oh it’s all because of corrupt politicians.

American: Why do you guys vote for such leaders?
Indian: People are illiterate and are duped on the basis of caste and religion.

American: It sounds too bad.
Indian: Not so, as I said the things have improved a lot.

American: Tell me.
Indian: Our economy is improving day by day. We have multi-stories, malls, discos and per capita has improved a lot.

American: I heard that you guys have very high crime rate and officials too corrupt.
Indian: No it’s not so. As I said, its improving as country is developing.

American: You guys work for cheap here, don’t you think you are exploited?
Indian: I save enough to send back home. It is enough for my family there.

American: Don’t you miss your family?
Indian: I miss them dearly.

American: Why don’t you bring them here then?
Indian: I won’t be able to afford it. I go and meet them once a year.

American: It all made me sad but I really like your spirit. Bye
Indian: Good Bye Sir.

Just change American by someone from say Mumbai/Delhi and Indian by someone say from UP/Bihar and the question/answers remains the same. Is struggle the essence of life? I fail to find an answer. All I can do is vow to work harder than ever to erase the need for such questions, the need for such answers and the existence of such differences.

Written by arpitgarg

April 9, 2009 at 7:01 am

Slumdog: An air of million criticism

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A lot has been written and discussed about Slumdog Millionaire. Much like the Obama wave it seems engulfing us all.

From the day it was nominated for the Golden Globe there have been extreme views. So much so that a war seems waged between the for and the against. The criticism more or less seems to follow two schools of thought discussed below.

First one rues the exploitation of poor India for money by the west. More like the East India Company reloaded. Westerners have been accused to revel at the mockery of Indian poverty. As Arindam Chaudhary writes, “Slumdog is a phony poseur that has been made only to mock India for the viewing pleasure of the First World”. The naked poverty of India might be self pleasing to the people of the West, given the time of depression. According to Amitabh Bacchan such underbellies do exist even in the developed nations. This is just a Western production and hence the recognition. These people have launched an offense against the team of the movie, western media and finally the whole of the western world.

The other school of thought is pretty much the same as far as the murky portrayal of Mumbai is concerned. The difference lies in how they are affected. People are worried about the answers they would need to give and ridicule they would be subjected to when they travel abroad the next time. As Preity Zinta says, “Now for the next 10 years of my life every time I travel abroad, I will be told, Oh, you live in Mumbai…where they gouge out eyes in the slums.”

One point missing here is, Does anybody care about the poverty and feel for the slum dwellers? Or it’s just the poverty in limelight which is itching the eyes. At first the movie was applauded. Then the criticism followed. Then there was criticism of the people criticizing the movie. “Isn’t that (poverty and slums) a reality”, says Shahrukh Khan. It would not be long when there would be people who would criticize the people criticizing who criticized the movie. Now, how much of criticism would that be!

Written by arpitgarg

January 28, 2009 at 12:44 pm


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दिल क्यों रो रहा है, मुझे नहीं पता। पसीज उठा हूँ मैं आज, न मालूम क्या करूँ। भाग जाऊं यहाँ से या सामना करूँ। यह हकीकत है जो भयानक रूप धारण कर मेरे सामने प्रकट हुई है।

यह रेलवे स्टेशन का दृश्य है। दिसम्बर की सर्दी भरी रात है। सुबह के चार बजे हैं। मैं इंजन की तरफ पीठ करके बैठा हूँ। पीछे से काफी शोर आ रहा है। वैसे तो कड़ाके की ठंड है, पर अचानक ही मुझे गर्मी लग उठी है। एक हाफ-स्वेटर में मुझे टनों ऊन की सी तपन महसूस हो रही है।

कारण? कारण है मुझे अपने सामने दिखती दरिद्रता जो नग्न्ता पर मजबूर हो रही है। एक छोटी बच्ची फूलों की सेज पर सोने के बजाए नंगे फर्श, पर गत्ते के डिब्बे का बिस्तर बनाये सो रही है। तन पर कोई गर्म वस्त्र नहीं, ओढे हुए है तो सिर्फ मोमजामा।

उसके सामने मैं खुद को गर्म चादर ओढे पाता हूँ। जो ठंड मुझसे बर्दाश्त नहीं हो रही थी, अब महसूस ही नहीं हो रही। क्या यही हक़ीक़त का असर है? क्या है उस नन्ही सी गुड़िया का भविष्य? दूसरी तरफ मैं अपने आप को देखता हूँ। हर्षोल्लास करते हुए। मजे करते हुए। यह उचित है या अनुचित, मुझे नहीं पता। पर क्या हमें अपने आप से यह सवाल नहीं करना चाहिए, ऐसा क्यों?

क्या वह बच्ची भगवान की देन नहीं? क्या हम और वो बराबर नहीं? क्या हम एक ही मालिक की औलाद नहीं? मुझे पता है कि आप में से कुछ मुझ पर हँसेंगे। सोचेंगे नहीं। क्योंकि अभी तक आपने हकीकत को देखा तो है, पहचाना नहीं।

कृपया हक़ीक़त को जानें और आगे बढ़ें ताकि इस धरती पर से दुःख और दर्द मिट जाएँ और कुछ ऐसा समां बने जो हकीकत को सुनहरा बना दे।

Written by arpitgarg

March 28, 2008 at 11:28 am


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एक मैला कुचैला छोटा बच्चा। उसके लिए जिंदगी का मतलब सिर्फ भूख और दुःख था। पटरी के किनारे बनी झोपडी ही उसका घर थी। लंगड़ी माँ ट्रैन मैं भीख मांगती थी। बड़ा भाई ट्रैन में झाड़ू लगाकर पैसे जुटाता था। कभी-२ दो वक़्त का खाना भी नसीब नहीं हो पाता था। इस सब दुःख दर्द में उसकी साथी थी, उसकी प्यारी बकरी। वह दिन भर उसके साथ खेला करता था। दोनों एक दूसरे को समझते थे। एक दिन खेलते-२ बकरी का पाँव पटरी पर फसी डोरी में अटक गया। उसी वक़्त सामने से ट्रैन आने लगी। बकरी चीख रही थी। बच्चे ने बकरी को देखा। वह डरा नहीं, दौड़ पड़ा। उसके मन में बस एक ही सवाल था कि आज वह यह नहीं होने देगा। वह पूरी रफ़्तार से दौड़ रहा था। लम्बी छलांग लगाकर उसने बकरी को पकड़ा और दूर झटक दिया। खुद दूसरी ओर कूद गया। कुछ ना होते हुए भी आज उसके चेहरे पर बड़ी चमक थी। आज वह विजेता था। उसने अनहोनी को टाल दिया था। वह यह दोबारा होने भी कैसे दे सकता था। उसे याद था कि कभी इस बकरी की जगह उसने अपने पिता को कटते देखा था।

Written by arpitgarg

March 28, 2008 at 11:27 am

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