I am seething with anger. If you or I were to send a letter to the Prime Minister, some bureaucrat would file it. End of the story. Geoff Chapman, a Briton, dashed off a note to Dr. Manmohan Singh about the beggar racket, which has been getting a lot of mileage in the press overseas after the success of Slumdog Millionaire. He read an article, was disturbed and decided to demand an answer from our authorities.
What do you think happens? This:
The Prime Minister’s Office promptly forwarded the letter to the central Women and Child Welfare Ministry, who, in turn, sent it to the Maharashtra government for further action. The state government has now initiated a probe into the allegations made in the article and will be sending a detailed report to the PMO.
Maharashtra government’s secretary V S Singh confirmed receiving the complaint from the Centre. “We will forward it to the Home department and the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights for investigation,” he stated.
Mr. Chapman is not aligned to any human rights organisation; he is doing this in his individual capacity. He has never been to India. He watches a film, reads stuff about the reality behind what the reports have referred to as “the cinema fantasy”. And our government institutes a probe.
The Raj still seems to be alive and kicking.
The sensitivity displayed by people is always laudable. But would this gentleman dare to write to the President of the United States of America demanding probes into racism? In his own country teenage pregnancies are on the rise with little boys who should be comparing sizes of willies like good ole kids becoming fathers and getting into ‘I am the daddy of this babe’s baby’ competition. Has he written to his PM, Gordon Brown?
The problem with such cinema becoming too mainstream is precisely that it gives rise to an offshoot industry of patronising people who think they have the right to mess around in other countries’ affairs, all in the name of human compassion and social concern.
In July 2006, CNN-IBN had done an expose of the beggar mafia. I had written about it here.
Did any government official do a thing about that TV report?
You might say as long as some action is taken that ought to be good enough. No. I think it is demeaning that we citizens are made to feel useless; even with all the evidence provided nothing is done. A Chapman sitting in some town in Somerset has his letter noticed only because it has a UK stamp. Is he doing anything about it besides sending the copies to the media that publishes it?
I don’t want him to interfere. Simple. If the government is keen on doing something – and it better be – it should look at several reports that have been painstakingly compiled by organisations working right here that talk about such abuse.
As for Mr. Chapman’s letter, it should be redirected to 10 Downing Street. No foreigner, that too an ordinary citizen of another country, can demand an explanation from us – ordinary citizens or the powers-that-be – and get away with it. There should be a strong note to their PMO telling them to keep their citizens in check.
If the GOI wants to be a slave of some White guy, then it should first ask us. We are paying for the upkeep of the ministries with our taxes. The Indian government is answerable to us, and that includes those beggars who are being maimed and have the constitutional right to a life of dignity. One would think that no one from political parties has ever seen a blind or lame mendicant ever.
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It is time to put the Slumdog Millionaire titbits to sleep. Am getting sick of the sidelights. Mohammed Azharuddin's father slaps him for not giving interviews and it becomes news. Both beta and baap give their versions. What the hell is going on?
Strangely, the media covers it, the same media that was the cause of the slapping episode in the first place. And they have the bloody cheek to say it is inhuman or some such thing. Only because the fellow has walked the red carpet does not mean parents do not beat up their children. Forget the slums, it is pretty common even among the middle class and the rich. So, go do a reality check before you go park your ass and OB van in the Garib Nagar slums.