Baby on the Sidewalk

India challenges in every way – we’ve made no secret of that – the filth, the poverty, the corruption, the bureaucracy. Don’t get me wrong, the palaces, the wildlife, the stunning tribal clothing thrill visitors, but sometimes the “cultural differences” stop you dead in your tracks.

While walking around Connaught Place in central Delhi braving the 100+ temperatures, we came across beggar woman who was using her baby as a prop. She had laid the naked baby (less than one year old) on the burning sidewalk, the unconscious child covered in a blanket of flies.

Noticing my attention focused on her, she whipped the child up and thrust it towards me gesticulating wildly to make me feel some pity. The malnourished child’s arms and legs hung motionless – there was no movement. I don’t even know if the child was still alive.

When I failed to react to the perverse show, she plopped the baby back on to the burning sidewalk and stared past me looking for someone else. She didn’t even glance at the child.

I stood staring at the tiny body lying on the pavement wondering what on earth to do. Wealthy Indians wearing Paris Hilton sunglasses and chatting on their cellphones strode by ignoring this apparently common scene. Disgusting.

Can you imagine somebody lying a baby on a burning sidewalk? We didn’t know what to do. What could we do? I felt like taking the child away from the woman. Or perhaps kicking her in the face? Of course, I would have immediately been arrested by the police standing a few feet away. Apparently, frying your fly-covered baby on the sidewalk is perfectly legal. The police probably thought she was lower-caste, so who cares. I did.

Sometimes I hate this country. Is this the India Inc. everyone keeps talking about? Is this the new prosperity? the new superpower in the making? And yet, we are heading to Nepal to get another Indian visa to stay another six months. Why? I’m not sure.

(By the way, a hundred yards down the street, I discovered another unconscious, naked child – this time an abandoned toddler – lying in a sea of flies. This is not a one time occurrence.)

4 responses to “Baby on the Sidewalk”

  1. avatar greeneyes says:

    Tony, you and I have seen some horrendous sites when we have traveled together but this experience is the worse.
    When the world becomes desensitized to helpless children, then we all must stand up and say, “Enough”
    Two very serious problems exist in India. First the fact that the country is so extremely over populated and the second problem in the fact that the society qualifies ones worth by class.
    I realize this is not just a problem in India but also in other areas of the world.

  2. avatar rbakerc says:

    That’s just awful. We didn’t see anything quite that bad, but a lot of the time, in Delhi and Varanasi when we’d just arrived, we would barely dare to look around us. I saw a beggar in Mumbai whom I was sure had ‘expired’… that’s what they say in India isn’t it? Btw, I’ve got a job that may take me to Mumbai over the next few months. I’ll have to keep in touch with your whereabouts.

  3. avatar Tony says:

    This really was one of the worst things I’ve seen in India. It left me enraged, as you can probably tell by the posting.

    I think it’s good to share the rage with visitors to our site. India has a lot of ups and downs. It’s not all postcard material.

  4. avatar Krisounette says:

    We also have mothers that throw their babies into the rubbish here in Germany – the only difference is: the police and the society care. Cruelty is all over the world!

    Have a good time back in India
    greetings Kristin

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