Is Narendra Modi really a nice man

Street children in IndiaThe begging mafia

A beggar sits on a roller board in front of the entrance to a metro station in New Delhi and sings. The little boy with the face of a seven-year-old hardly looks up from his accordion. Now and then his gaze brushes the begging bowl, which so far only contains a few small coins. Right next to it, the man who brought the beggar boy here in the morning has draped an image of Lord Shiva. Shiva stands for spiritual perfection and symbolizes victory over the ego. The sight of the popular Hindu god with the trident should make passers-by particularly benevolent, say the sociologist Chittaranjan Mishra and Rajnesh Kumar, employees of a children's NGO.

"Indian society is quite superstitious. Begging and the giving of alms are part of our culture. Those who distribute charitable gifts do so not entirely without intent. On the contrary: the believers assume that the problems that cause them are caused by this to be able to reduce or even completely eliminate. "

Amputations increase profits

"The beggars' organizations in this country are usually run by two or three people who have up to a hundred children and adults under them. In the morning they send or bring those affected to different districts. And in the evening the beggars then have to deliver their entire income. In return, they get a place to sleep and something to eat, "says Chittaranja Mishra.

From morning to evening the little musician sits at his place in front of the metro station. Even if the boy wanted to - he couldn't run away. Four years ago, he had both legs amputated to make him appear particularly needy.

The news reported: "Narendra Modi ordered an investigation into local beggars' organizations. The decision came after a Catholic priest sent a newspaper clipping to the Prime Minister. The article was about Indian quacks cutting off the legs or arms of street children to help them arouse great pity and bring in a lot of money. "

"A representative of the prime minister has approached the Ministry for the Development of Women and Children with a request for information. They want to know whether this is true and, if so, what needs to be done to end such practices." The Catholic priest who sent the clipping to Narendra Modi said he was pleased with the investigation. However, he expressed his surprise that no one had apparently been informed about these events.

Rajnesh Kumar says: "We are talking about mafia-like structures. Who is the head of such an organization is actually never known. And when a child who has been blinded or whose limbs have been amputated is questioned, it is said always: One day I woke up like this. Or: I had an accident and since then I've been missing my arms and legs. The so-called 'doctors' who do it, the neighbors who see the daily hustle and bustle of the beggar organization and the police - everyone During the day, people protect and preserve what happens there. Actually, begging was once banned in India. But: look around the streets - beggars everywhere. And at the same time it is teeming with police officers who pretend they don't exist. "

Indian government is doing too little to address child poverty in the country, says Rajnesh Kumar (AFP)

He adds: "The problem is: What is our government doing? What does it have to offer all the have-nots, the disabled or the wantonly crippled? Nothing. And what does that have to do with our society, whose religiosity needs constant confirmation? If a Hindu prays in the temple, he is comfortable with it, but he is missing something. If he donates money to the temple, that is better. If he makes sure that someone who is hungry gets something to eat, that is even higher on the scale So please don't feel sorry for it. Often enough people look the other way and don't give anything. And sometimes there is even contempt when the subject of beggars comes up. But in total it is still like this: superstition and the desire for a deep one It is religious satisfaction that ultimately stirs up the mafia structures in beggar organizations. "

"I'm always very hungry in the morning"

The street children Dilip, Lal and Ravi tell: Dilip: "Sometimes people give me a little money, sometimes something to eat - or they just look angry and just walk on. That's why I used to try to sell balloons or pens. Yes Nobody wanted to take anything from me. Maybe because I wasn't wearing clean clothes and because I shivered when it rained. I was completely wet and had no second pair of pants and no other shirt. My parents can't help me. You are always busy with the powder they sniff through their noses. "

Lal: "In the mornings I'm always very hungry. First I try the lentil porridge stand nearby. Or I go to the Hanuman Temple. I then sit down on the floor with the widows and the cripples. At least I remember Flatbread or a banana for me. Sometimes government people come with a big bus. They then say that we have to get out of the center because otherwise people cannot shop in peace. They drive us far out of Delhi and threaten us with it we won't come back. But we always come back. "

Ravi: "People treat us like dirt. And that's how I often feel. That's why I can't get away from sniffing glue. But even if I succeeded ... Then I would no longer have friends with them I can sit together and keep an eye on my belongings every now and then. I would really like to quit cigarette smoking, just as much as I'd give up glue and begging. But I know it won't work. "

Homelessness is a common sight in Indian metropolises (picture alliance / dpa / Wolfgang Kumm)

Dilip, Lal and Ravi are eleven, nine and thirteen years old. You are not crippled and you are not part of a syndicate. The three beggar boys live in New Delhi with some of their family members on the streets. Dilip says:

"I would like to go to school. And become a doctor - and get married! It will be a real wedding, with all the trimmings, with horses and a wedding procession that goes through the streets until we have all arrived in front of the marquee. And then comes the priest, one of those who can sing Sanskrit for half an hour without taking a breath. "

"Carry your head all the way up"

Yoti, a girl, says: "I always felt dirty when the men said, for example: 'Oh, a girl who begs - so all alone. If you need help, I can think of something like you can pay back ... "In those moments I was always very scared and I couldn't sleep at night. After all, I just cried. Until one day my mother said:" That's enough. Just take care of your siblings, clean up and mend our things. ' Shortly afterwards I came here for the first time, to 'Chetna'. And from then on it was finally over with begging for me. "

Yoti is 15 years old and works as a trainer for the children's aid organization "Chetna". At "Chetna" the children learn what to look out for the most in life on the street. In role-playing games, for example, they practice saying no when they are sexually harassed or when they are offered drugs. They are encouraged to go begging with other children if possible so that they are not easily dragged into a car, kidnapped or raped. And in the exercise "carry your head up high" the beggar children learn that they have a right to turn to the police if they need help. Yoti says:

"I told my mother that the children can rest here. They are also comforted, for example if they have been treated unfairly again outside on the street. They can learn to read and write and find out which gods we are have here and what the priest does in the temple. You can also take a shower here. Or just play. A couple of times I brought my little brother and younger sister with me. But mom doesn't trust the people here. I always tell her: Almost I get a fixed salary for two years. And everyone is so nice and tries very hard. But my mother only replies: 'What if people only pretend until they're not just my big daughter, but all mine Have children?'"

"We can all change something"

"We help beggar children who would like to learn something. And if they want, then at some point they can stop begging. We can all change something, we can start something new. I know that because I have found something here too makes me happy. "

For almost two years now, Yoti has been driving past Green Park station five times a week on her way to work on the metro.

Here, where the little boy sits on his roller board right in front of the entrance and sings. The seven-year-old has had to wait a little longer in the evenings for a few weeks before being picked up. Because the boss of the beggar syndicate, under whose roof he lives, has in the meantime sent two more children to the operation. Since then, the driver has had to go to different places to pick up the beggar children who no longer have legs.