Discussions over Tea (Of course, cutting maar ke)

Friday, October 03, 2003

THE "ONE" NATION : Banking on the little ones

While we've all heard stories about street urchins and how they con the masses into giving up money and how they're actually run by the "beggarmaster", these are the stories that actually show that there's hope yet. Most of this article is a simple cut and paste from the Asia Time Editorial here. Some of the more bleak parts of the editorial have been left out because they're been covered in the past before elsewhere.... but here's the good part.
  • Anuj, a 14-year-old orphan and street urchin, is an unlikely banker. He promotes the Bal Vikas Bank, or Child Development Bank, an exceptional financial institution run by street children for street children in New Delhi. Last year, he was the manager. This first-of-its-kind bank encourages working street children to save money, and gradually haul themselves off the streets.
  • Most voluntary organizations give children a facility to save money. �If they overspend, we have to diplomatically point it out to them,� [Ansari says]. �Ask too many questions and they give their money to someone else.�
  • Having their own bank was the best option the children could have in the streets. Street children in Delhi brainstormed the idea and established rules for Bal Vikas bank, including eligibility for borrowing. They proposed barring children who are taking or selling drugs, gamblers, pickpockets or bullies. They dropped the idea when they realized that none of them would qualify for a loan.
  • Each borrower has to have another street child as guarantor and undertake to continue saving in the bank. Panicker says Bal Vikas will be opening businesses in the other Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

These are just drops in the ocean of Indian poverty and child labour, but they're signs that all hope isn't lost. That urchin knocking on your car window wouldn't just give your money away to his chief, or spend it on a smoke or at the movies; he might jsut be saving it up for a rainy day.

THE "ONE" NATION : No Cameras, Just Plights, All Action

On a more social front, NGOs are helping children raise awareness about social maladies which plague their everyday lives. This Outlook article covers a story on an NGO which is addressing issues like child marriages, rag-picking and tobacco addiction through the medium of films. These films are made by the children themselves, with the help of tips for making effective films. Here are the excerpts of this article -
  • Twelve-year-old Pushpa is �reporting live� from a desert school camp in Rajasthan, trying to adjust her Sony Handycam on the tripod and, without a disconnect, her dupatta too. She�s making a 10-minute film on the scars child marriages leave on a girl�s psyche. She should know: like her peers in this school, Pushpa too was married�about four years ago, at the tender age of eight.
  • Chandra conducts 20-day workshops for children to introduce them to all aspects of filmmaking�from encouraging them to brainstorm on issues they think is important to training them in developing effective scripts backed by sound research and teaching them the technical skills involved in filmmaking. "The last bit is a very small part of the workshops. The important thing is to find issues which affect them and then take action.."
  • The crew of Addicted Innocence, a film on tobacco addiction among children, started an anti-gutkha signature campaign in Madhya Pradesh�s Sehore district, forcing authorities to ban gutkha sale near schools. Today, the crew takes pride in the fact that they have helped make all schools and colleges of the district gutkha-free.
  • K. Divya and her group made a film on joginis, the �wives� of the village gods, and by extension, wives of the entire village. They chose Savitri as their �lead�: she was only 12 when she was married off to the community. Savitri is now 22, one of the thousands of joginis in Andhra Pradesh.
Sure these kids, might not become remarkable film-makers in their own time, but the idea is to empower them with the knowledge that they can do anything they set their minds to. They are the future.

End of Post

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