By Dillip Kumar Pradhan
Bhubaneswar: A boy strikes a stick to a vessel, another suddenly turns hyper–rushing in to performs a vault in the air preceded by a handstand and tries to contort his agile, slender body into impossible acrobatics. Another kid tries to catch attention of the passers by to the act on the busy streets of Bhubaneswar and gather whatever money they throw in a bag.
Meet Siba, Ankit and their younger brother. The trio hailing from Gwalior of Madhya Pradesh have resorted to begging in the lane and by-lane of State Capital by performing acrobatic skills. All of them are school dropouts.
Even though huge resources are spent to protect the rights of children and for their development, enormous numbers of children can be still found on the city roads performing various acrobatic tricks to earn a living.
The scene has become rampant in the city by the days even as the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) has expressed helplessness in absence of proper government step.
Driven by acute poverty, their parents, who are also involved in similar activities to earn their daily bread and butter, have never thought of the future of their kids. “Our parents perform the tricks-locally called Baunsa Rani- and we also resort to similar things as a source of income”, said the minor boy Siba, who is the
drummer to the two performing kids.
Asked about their education and future, they remained mute and shifted attention saying- “We can earn better in this job”.
Not these three minor boys, but many like them have resorted to begging or are forced for begging at bus stops and railway platforms. “As it has become an easy way of earning. They and their parents do not think of something else as a better source of income. The mindset of the guardians towards their wards needs to be changed first,” CWC
member Benudhar Senapati said.
“The parents who engage their kids in begging could be arrested under existing laws. But,it will not resolve the children’s issues, rather would aggravate the situation. So, their parents should be rehabilitated properly by the government under poverty alleviation programme which would lead to the rehabilitation of the kids”, Senapati added.
Echoing same what the three siblings revealed, the CWC member said the Child Line (Bhubaneswar) had conducted a survey taking the case of 250 children. It found out that 67% parents are engaged in begging so also their children.
“The Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) has been launched by the government to help secure the rights of children. However, the benefit of the scheme failed to reach the vulnerable children”, the CWC member pointed out.
Moreover, an inter-departmental convergence is needed. “Taking Childline, the departments of Labour and Employment, Education, Home and Child & Women Welfare departments should form a special panel to address the children’s issues”.