ActionAid, an NGO, organised a photo exhibition at the British Council, on Urban Poverty and Children followed by the screening of two short films, Rhymes of Change and Railway Children.
The photo exhibition and film screening was aimed at raising awareness on issues of poverty and child exploitation with special emphasis on urban poverty. “In spite of India achieving so much by way of economic growth and development, there are several pockets of abject poverty in the country which rival the terrible conditions of hunger and illiteracy that exist in the most backward regions of Sub Saharan Africa. In fact, the shocking fact is that the wealth of over a billion people in India is largely concentrated in the hands of a mere 32 individuals.
The gap between the haves and the have not's is widening alarmingly and is strongly reflected in the faces of the exploited young,” said the organisers. With every second child dropping out of school before turning 14, India is home to the world’s largest child labour force under 14 years of age. Driven out of their homes by poverty and abuse, thousands of children also end up living on railway lines and platforms across the country. A tragedy of epic proportions is playing itself out on a daily basis but largely goes unremarked by a people desensitised by images of crushing and degrading poverty that they witness almost everyday.
The exhibition depicts photographs of slum children who have fought for their rights and now study at various schools across the country. It also has poignant images of children employed in various activities like wayside travelling circus, construction work or selling balloon selling outside bus stations.
In the midst of this human tragedy, there are a few glimmers of hope. Schools lure children to get an education, however rudimentary with the offer of a mid-day meal.
Girls in remote villages buck the traditional system of studying in Madarasas and expand their minds, horizons and ambitions. They juggle demanding domestic chores with their daily homework, fuelled by a desperation to improve their lot. Organisers said that they wanted to attract the young generation to join the fight against poverty and hunger.