Sunday, December 27, 2009


I travel a lot in India on the trains. One sight that cripples your eyes is the sight of children coming around to sweep the wagon in which you travel, and ask you pitiably for some money. I give at times generously, and sometimes meagerly. And I avoid giving any money rarely...when I see that actually it is a group that is coming around. These children are in their pre-teens, malnourished, shabbily dressed and usually between 6 - 9 years old. And they travel in these trains long distances. Once they have some money, they get into the next train and return. But, return to where? Do not know! Some of them can be seen on the platform of large railway stations. Some of them just seem to vanish.

Some organizations have taken up rehabilitation programs for these children. But none of seem to have any study on how exactly these children spend their 24 hours. What do they do for their survival? Entertainment? Shelter? How many of them approach to what? What are their other core competencies. Why don't we see teenage "sweepers" in the trains? (Although one / two are rarely visible, no regulars.) At the transition from preteen to teenage what happens to them? How and where do they disappear?

A student from Western Washington University will be coming in here soon: Andrew Roberts. He is willing to take the challenge. To sit in railway stations, to travel in local trains and follow these children to see what actually happens to them. How do they spend their 24 hours.

Meanwhile, if any of you have any better ideas as to what can be done for these children, write to me at

No comments: