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Honour on sale

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By: Ali Peter John, IndiaFM
Friday, August 25, 2006
I have no right to expect what I expect from a film-maker like Madhur Bhandarkar who has just completed making a film called Traffic Signal. He says it is all about life at the hundreds of traffic signals in Mumbai. But I too have been studying and observing life at these red and green areas. I feel Madhur will not do justice to the title children of India selling the National Flag, our "tiranga pyara" at almost every traffic signal in Mumbai, if they are neglected. There are hundreds of them selling flags for One Rupee each (the honor of India being sold for a rupee!)

This Independence Day I decided to follow the movements of one little boy selling the flag at the signal at Four Bungalows at all times of the day. He was there at seven in the morning with a bunch of flags waving in his hand. He went running from one car to another. He pushed the flags but most of them just looked away from him and the flag. But he kept trying, running, stopping and even crying at times.

I passed the signal in the afternoon and I saw him standing there and he had many more flags to sell. I saw his mother coming to give him in a very rough tone, firing him for not doing enough business. I went back again in the evening only to find him looking crestfallen. He told me his name was Raghu. I asked him what the things in his hands were and was shocked when he answered, "Bekar khilona hai. Koi karidta hi nahin. Ab main kya karoon, maa bahut maregi aur khana bhi nahin degi"

He threw away all the flags in a corner in sheer disgust and cried and asked me if I could give him some money. It was one of the most heartbreaking stories I had come across. And this was the child who all our great leaders and social workers and those who work for the welfare of the children call the future of India and there are thousands of Raghus whose future is nothing but one long tunnel without end.

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