SOLYMONE BLOG

NEW YEAR BRINGS LITTLE CHEER TO POOR IN INDIA

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NEW DELHI, India - As the city was soaked in revelry on New Year's Eve, it was just an ordinary night for Shambhu Ram, a pavement dweller, who braced himself for another chilly night, wishing that the mercury would not fall any further.
For the many homeless like him in the capital, New Year's Eve is just a regular winter night when survival in the cold wave is the prime objective.
  • Ram, who is illiterate, didn't even know that new year meant celebrations. "I work at a construction site, that's where I'll go on New Year's Day. There's no holiday for the poor," a visibly tired Ram said.
  • Just like the New Year bonfires, Ram lights one too. But this one is to keep him warm during the cold.
  • For 14-year-old Shabnam and her sister Bulbul, 13, New Year's celebrations were a matter of curiosity. The orphaned sisters languish in a large concrete sewage pipe section lying off the road near Vasant Vihar.
  • Asked about the celebrations, the elder ragpicker retorted "What do they celebrate tomorrow," while handing out a bread slice to Bulbul.
However, 15-year-old Bishnu was happy that the capital was celebrating. And why not, the probability of him scrounging some chicken curry from the scraps he gets from local restaurants gets higher.
"There will be a lot of parties. And I may even get some chicken," Bishnu says with a smile while keeping an eye on a nearby eatery.
He has no place to sleep, but stays around the Old Delhi Railway Station area as it is always full of people, assuring a constant stream of alms.
  • However, for 37-year-old Kallu, a rickshaw puller in Old Delhi, New Year's has a special meaning — his twins were born the same day.
  • He doesn't have a place to stay and sends all his money back home in Uttar Pradesh. "Whatever I save, I send back home. God has allowed both my children to go to school. One day, my children will pull me out of poverty," he says.
However, with all the festive cheer, New Year's Eve is largely bleak for the homeless in the capital who are neglected by the authorities and eyed with suspicion by the public.
According to a UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) report, there are some 56,000 homeless living on the streets of Delhi.
Source: Agency
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