Beggars of Kamla Nagar market

Photos and Text: Mallika Soni and Jeevitesh Saharan | March 10, 2018


#Poor   #Kamla Nagar   #Delhi   #Beggars  


There is privilege in this world; yet most of us are not cognizant of the same; our own or even someone else’s. Then there is poverty in this world; yet most of us are not cognizant of the same; our own or even someone else’s. 

The bright lights of the markets of Delhi often make us enchanted into a slumber of forgetfulness.

In the vicinity of Delhi University, a bustling Kamla Nagar market with all its brand outlets and eating joints remains busy and crowded almost every day.

In a city, one always has to undergo the pain that we feel because there is a gnawing lack of familiarity; it is hard to find familiar smiling faces or any abiding presences; the cities are probably too big for that. Yet one sight is familiar to anyone who comes to this market; the street beggars and their ever increasing number.

beggar

While some sit on the curb with hands folded and tired dry eyes, others are children who beg of you to weigh yourself so that they could make five rupees.

The heat or the cold of the day or the jaundiced Delhi lights; nothing deters their presence; probably their presence for some of us is a part of our daily lives.

Sometimes while passing through the market one often thinks about the power equation between the beggar and the pedestrian. Who needs whom more? We think the beggar relies on the kindness of the pedestrian but does the pedestrian need the beggar in order to merely beam with power and pride and feel relevant? After all, in this huge country of so many unknown faces and stark inequality, isn’t the pedestrian just another beggar? 

beggar

It also makes you wonder whether the market creates the beggar or whether the beggar capitalises on the market. From the privileged University lens, sometimes one wonders how the beggar understands words like consent, dignity, labour, capitalism, Marxism, poverty, depression, addiction. What would these words actually mean for the beggar? Ever thought? Or probably appropriating meaning is too powerful an act to be performed by someone whose worries are mostly about the next meal?

Sometimes you will also see these beggars happy when they get a McDonald’s burger that someone was too full to eat. Sometimes a passing pedestrian would just smile at them and try and make some conversation; take a photo or just see them and think about hygiene and sanitation. It also makes you wonder what makes the pedestrian give anything to the beggar; is it guilt coming out of the idea of having too much or is it a mutual feeling of poverty that most of us share? One never knows.

beggar

Do these beggars even recognize the people in power? Are they even aware of how the government works? Yet some of us label them notorious and consider them to be people who disturb the atmosphere of the market; they supposedly make the market ‘unsafe’. Ever asked what the word ‘safety’ means to a beggar?

beggar

And then there is Trump Jr who seems to be astounded and impressed by the smile on the faces of the India’s poor. Does that make the powerful people of our world think that poverty is satiating and that the poor are grateful for their situation?

beggar
There is a word called ‘hope’ which is said to keep most of us alive; a hope for a better tomorrow. But the only thing that we forget is the fact that the way we define tomorrow is different for the beggar and the pedestrian. Always has been and always will be! And probably to be hopeful also means being privileged.

The contributors are students at the University of Delhi.


 

Comments

 

Other News

An eye on AI

Google Assistant, Rekognition and Tay. All these, often seen in news, have a common thread – they are powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Only difference is that while some have been in news for right reasons, some others have made it to the headlines for all the wrong reasons. For instance, Goo

Data-powered economy

1.33 billion. Let that large number sink in. That number is nearly 18 percent of the total global population, and almost the number of people estimated to currently reside in the republic of India, one of the world’s largest and fastest growing economies. These 1.33 billion people are spread across a

Dams or time bombs?

Kerala is limping back to normal after the devastating floods that wreaked havoc in the state prompting red alert in all 14 of its districts. While the rescue activities and immediate relief are now a thing of the past, the state is struggling to turn a new page and the focus is on reconstruction an

The imprint of the Gurjara Pratiharas

On August 16, when the country lost its beloved former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a nondescript village, 70 km from Agra, came into the limelight. Bateshwar, the ancestral village of Vajpayee, is situated along the notorious Chambal ravines on the banks of the Yamuna. Vajpayee&rsq

Imagining the worst

Love Sonia is not a film you would want to watch if you knew its subject: sex trafficking. Without even a scene experienced, the subject induces visceral revulsion. However optimistic the screenplay, it can only deal in ugly dregs and bring up retching bile. Even so, Love Sonia, gritty an

India’s balancing act with China

On the first day of his August 19-20 visit to India, when Japanese defence minister Itsunori Onodera held talks with his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman, several defence and strategic-related issues had cropped up in their annual talks. But a big smile flashed on Sithraman’s face when Onodera,

Current Issue

Current Issue

Video

CM Nitish’s convoy attacked in Buxar

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter