Depths of Despair

The neglected children facing hunger, abuse and conflicts
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Signs of the Times

The neglected children facing hunger, abuse and conflicts

As the Children’s Day  nears (November 14), political  speeches will  be  getting drafted in the  corridors of  power  along  the strain that this or that is  being done for the children of the country, but the  stark facts to the ground realities might  not  just shock  but  leave  one  terribly  pained. 

There are significant pointers to the fact that a substantial percentage of  the children  in the country are subjected to abuse and mental trauma. Children are also dying because of hunger and lack of the basic food nutrients…severely malnourished are lakhs of our children. Though there are hundreds of sarkari advertisements which  boast of  providing  clean  drinking water but in many  locales only muddy drops  trickle  …parched  are the stretches  and  there’s  no accountability. If the local population cries  out for  food and drinkable water, they are given the  “Hindu-Muslim lollypop”! Yes, communal tensions are created by the political mafia to distract and divert attention from the basic issues.

And if one was under the impression that child marriages are a thing of the past then do try read  the latest data that reveals that child marriages are still taking place. No research or  follow up on the future of those couples; many  perhaps  manipulated or  bundled off or  lured  into the  marriage  trap, as  poverty and  illiteracy holds sway.

In many regions there’s an increase in the numbers of the children going through various forms of disadvantages and burdens. Child trafficking  is a  known  reality yet  where’s the  halt to children getting bought and sold in the various markets?

Sheer poverty and the hopelessly failing system is killing hundreds of our children in their  very childhood . In the summer of 2022, a horrifying videop was in circulation. The video was of an eight  year old boy sitting on the roadside, holding the  body of his 2 year baby brother, whilst  his father Poojaram Jatav goes looking for an affordable vehicle which could carry the dead child to their  home in the Ambah tehsil in Madhya Pradesh’s  Morena. Painful backgrounders followed: the child was severely anaemic and unwell and so the father decided to get him to the district hospital in Morena but he was declared dead during the treatment. And when the father wanted an ambulance to get home with the body, the hospital simply refused and the father couldn’t afford to hire any of the private ambulances. It’s then he went looking for a vehicle, leaving the body with the older brother who was found sitting with the body on the roadside, for hours…To compound the tragedy for the family, the mother of these children was not around; she had left for her parent’s home three months back and Poojaram Jatav was said to be looking after the children (four of them) singlehandedly. 

This is could be the dark dismal reality hitting hundreds here, in our country. 

What happens to the survival of thousands of such families and children who cannot afford to get the basic food and medical care? Who is responsible for their famished-hopeless-anaemic existence? Who is answerable? Who is accountable? Who all of the political and administrative who’s who, who ought be questioned for the sheer plight and misery and sorrow of our children?

It is undeniable that children surviving in the conflict zones, face an additional load of trauma and anxieties together with insecurities. Ask the children of Manipur and Kashmir and of the so many  other regions where conflict and civil strife  holds sway!

Also, children from the minority communities and groups face the burden of the communal virus so very systematically unleashed all around them. One case after another. The blatantly horrific one was of that school teacher in Uttar  Pradesh, Tripti Tyagi, provoking cum ordering  children of the class to slap one of the  Muslim students of the class.

Not sure what is the condition of children inside jails – those who sit with their  imprisoned mothers and  also those in juvenile homes. There’s little  information trickling out from across the high walls.


Young and dying in Palestine

And  if one were to see shots  and  videos of   hundreds  of the Palestinian children  being killed in  Gaza, then  words cannot describe the turmoil and  pain hitting the  very  soul.

Though most of the so called world leaders (some could be also called war- criminals… yes, accused of war crimes!) are fathers and grandfathers but seem little bothered about the ongoing killings and deaths in Gaza. Those cries of the injured and dying are so very traumatic and painful….I have been questioning  myself:  Is this the  so called developed world? Is this the world that talks of  peace  whilst  indulging  in mass scale genocide? Is this world fit enough for  humans to survive in, where even  infants and  new born children are not  spared?

As fears and apprehensions  grow of Palestinians getting hounded  from their   very own homeland, it is  absolutely urgent that there ought to be an  immediate  halt to these  killings and barbaric  targeted onslaughts on the  hapless civilian population in and around  Gaza. Immediate ceasefire and truce talks. After all, violence and killings are no solution and lead to counter violence and anarchy.

Leaving you with these two verses of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish:

The war will end/

The leaders will shake hands/

The old woman will keep waiting for her martyred son/

The girl will wait for her beloved husband/

And those children will wait for their hero father/

I don’t know who sold our homeland/

But I saw who paid the price.’ 

‘He is quiet and so am I./

He is quiet and so am I./

He sips tea with lemon, while I drink coffee./

That’s the difference between us./

I think: Maybe he’s a killer…/

or maybe a passer by who thinks/

I am a killer./

He’s afraid…and so am I./

Humra Quraishi is a Gurgaon based independent writer-columnist-journalist.