If on the one hand, Delhi offers wonderful sights amusing even the keenest travelers, the wide spread visible horrendous poverty flourishing under the luxurious interpretations characterizing the lanes of Delhi is an undeniable and interesting paradox.
Looking at the 2001 census figures, we find that Delhi homes nearly 24,966 homeless people in its vicinities. The survey conducted in 2008, however points out that there are nearly 150000 homeless people in Delhi.
Although, travelers are guided to enjoy every bit of the Red Fort, the bitter truth resides at the same place, very near to it. This shocking reality sleeps, wakes, eats, and lives in the surrounding vicinities of Red Fort and makes an interesting piece of work to understand the real Delhi.
Walking through the narrow lanes of Khari Bowli, where Asia trades in wholesale spice and grocery, one can witness labourers grappling with heavy sacks of grain to meet their daily survival needs. Clad only in torn shorts, most of the labourers are from different parts of India, who have settled here to earn their living.
There’s competition on every lane where one can witness pushing of a grain cart through a lane with an intention to win over the trucks and reach faster than them. However, everything goes in vain considering the power of the machines but the struggle goes on. For every push, the labourer gets around Rs. 2 to Rs. 5, thus doing it all day long to sustain the most precious thing in life, the life itself.
Interestingly, most of these people who are involved into ‘push business’, become spice merchants on Sunday. As they push carts, they collect the waste spices oozing out from the carts, consequently selling them on their leisurely weekends.
Interestingly, talking to these people demystify the long held truth that Delhi’s homeless people are the migrant workers. They are not, as they have been living in its vicinities for a long time. Furthermore, for these people, the notion of state, nation, or anything for that matter does not exist at all. Interestingly, for them there is no legality or illegality debate. They just live and die without any meaning. For them, life is as simple as it is.
It is sad to note that Delhi has no adequate shelter houses for its homeless people. If we take into account the Municipal Corporation of Delhi claims into account, we find that there has to be one night shelter per one lakh people. However, it has not been done so, because of obvious reasons in which it is better not to venture through this piece of correspondence.
What ought to be done is to provide around 180 shelters out of which there are only 64 shelters out of which only 17 are functioning. So, the invisible population of Delhi is becoming more invisible with passage of time.
As a traveler, if you compare the city of Delhi to any of the world class cities of the world, there is another side of the story too. In fact, this is what makes India all the more interesting and worthwhile at least to ponder for a while. However, it must change the plight of people discussed above.