Rights of Children: A Case Study of Child Beggars at Public Places in India
Dr Anupma Kaushik

India has the largest child population in the world i.e. almost 19 percent of the world’s child population. The constitution of India expresses concern for upbringing of children in safe, secure and healthy manner through various provisions in the constitution. However millions of children exist below poverty line and are malnourished and many of them die. Children become victims of many crimes. Many children spend their childhood begging either due to poverty or under threat however not many studies exist on child beggars in India. The present study was conducted on fifty child beggars, using random sampling method, in 2012-13 in Varanasi city in India. The children involved in begging can be divided in three broad groups: boys, girls and children with mothers. The children who beg arrive from nearby rural areas in small groups in the morning and leave in the evening. They have family and peer acceptability, encouragement and inspiration for begging. They carry a steel utensil in which they either keep some oil or photograph of a Hindu deity and ask for money on specific holy days. Some of them do not seem destitute but most were very poor. They are seen mostly in the market, near temples and railway station. Some of them have gone to school but left due to learning difficulties or fights with others. Most are not going to school and those who are going are unable to read. Children said they earn 20 to 100 rupees everyday by begging. Most give the money to mother or elder brother who will make food for them. Some said their parents do manual labour or petty business while others said they do not have parents. Children are not habituated to begging and can be weaned away. There are more boys than girls. Girls are seen only in the afternoon and mostly on Sundays. Girls beg along with their siblings and cousins. Some women also beg with one or two kids. The children with women are very shy and quiet.Government must help these children by sending them to school and helping their families to cope with extreme poverty as well as criminal gangs.

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