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Photographer's Note

Everyone who has not yet seen the film “Slumdog Millionaire” should do so at once. It’s an unrealistic fairy tale with an unlikely feel-good ending, but it graphically illustrates the lives of the countless millions of India’s children who live on the street with only one concern: “How will I manage to find enough to eat today so that I’ll be alive tomorrow?”
In India you quickly steel yourself to the crowds of children who are grabbing your arm, knocking on the window of your car, thrusting flowers into your pockets, repeating endlessly the only words of English they know: “Hello Madame, food, hungry, money, please, eat…”

If you give any of them money or even move toward your pocket or purse, their number suddenly increases tenfold and you cannot move for all the hands clutching at you.
The begging industry has a tendency to establish collective behaviour. Begging syndicates are not unknown in India and it was highly improbable that child beggars established working patterns, ‘sales strategies’ and respective territories independently.
The begging profession also works on concepts of buying and selling – it regards sympathy as a market to be exploited. Yet this human sense of ‘heart’ merely encourages the growth of the begging business, by proving that there is profit to be made. Each rupee given is a transaction for the sale of poverty.
The children get just enough to feed themselves while the leaders of the syndicates keep the rest. Furthermore, after reaching the age of physical maturity, the girls are then sold off into the flesh trade while the boys become slaves or labourers. It is difficult to find a girl or boy between 13 to 16 begging along the streets when their value lies elsewhere.

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Additional Photos by Madhumita Roy (madhumita_roy86) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 256 W: 2 N: 419] (2344)
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