How this 7 year old boy proves we are a society of hypocrites…

Innocence lost: 7 year old Ram makes a living by keeping the Mangla Express clean.
Innocence lost: 7 year old Ram makes a living by keeping the Mangla Express clean. (Pic: Varun Bidhuri)

Criticizing and debating about what all is wrong about our country is one thing but witnessing wrong and not reporting it to make amends is a sign of ignorance, to put it mildly. When the system itself promotes what is often frowned upon is a bit appalling. At a time where the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi is advocating Swachh Bharat ABHIYAAN and noble laureate Kailash Satyarthi endeavoring for a child-labour free India, the ground reality smacks of hypocrisy.

The grotesque underbelly of the Indian society that has been a cause for much concern and embarrassment, most recently elucidated by BBC’s documentary on the Delhi gang rape, shows how absolutely disgraceful it is that the apathy of the system is compromising the future of the young kids of our country.

While on a journey in a train, this Tehelka reporter came across a 7 year old boy in the Mangla-Lakshadweep Express train route from Delhi to Goa who cut the heart-wrenching figure that proved that we still have a long way to go as far as the grim realities of the society are addressed. On Train no 12618, in B2 coach, this young boy was found sweeping the floor and collecting garbage from the compartments.

Upon enquiring it was learnt that he manages to earn Rs 300 per day from cleaning the garbage from train coaches and handouts. He manage to make the extra money from people travelling in the train who would not mind parting with some change out of empathy.

When asked why he did not go to school when he can afford to, Ram stated: “I want to study but I have to earn to feed my family. If I don’t work, their stomachs will remain empty. Going to school will not afford me time to work.” Immediately the smile gave way to a down in the mouth expression on his face. Ram’s utter helplessness made my stomach turn. He denied to reveal any more information even upon coaxing and objected when Tehelka attempted to click his photograph.

At a time when his young mind needs nurturing and education so that a human life does not go to waste as a consequence of being pulled into the anti-social realm, Ram is forced to make ends meet for his family. In the process he is not aware that he is risking the possibility of a brighter future or being turned into an individual who could possibly end up on the wrong side of the law. Our society is a cruel one; it can turn the most noble souls into a monster if one falters in their path.

It is the path on which Ram has set his tiny feet on that makes one fear for the future of the country. Are we hypocrites who only watch news on TV and debate amongst ourselves about what is bad about our society or do we believe in getting to the root of the matter?


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