Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
Good News Echo

Good News Echo

Author: Stephen David
Publication: India Today
Date: April 5, 2004

Introduction: For years these boys lived on the streets of Bangalore and eked out a living of sorts. Then they found a new hope. They are back on the same streets, this time as respected traffic assistants.

With a confident gesture, Ranga Muniswamy, 19, brings the traffic to a halt. Just months earlier no one would even look at him, and here he is, with the power to control the traffic. This realisation is especially wonderful to someone whose life as a child in Anekal, an impoverished hamlet 20 km south of Bangalore, was traumatic. His father worked for 18 hours a day as a farm hand and his mother pitched in to help feed a family of five. And yet they could barely make ends meet. So five years ago, Muniswamy's father had packed him off to Bangalore in the hope that he would find himself a job in the city and supplement the family's meagre earnings.

However, with nobody to advise or help him, young Muniswamy found the change painful; it was a reliving of Salaam Bombay, the Mira Nair film dedicated to street children. Unable to make a headway in the urban chaos, the boy soon metamorphosed into one of the 70,000 street boys in the Garden City. He sought work at roadside eateries, in vain. So he begged for food and money during the day and continued to live on the street.

Then his life took another dramatic turn, but this time for the better. A team from an NGO named Empowerment of Children and Human Rights Organisation (ECHO) spotted him. He was co-opted into a batch of 30 street boys who were destined to have a new beginning. "We did not want them to be just fed and housed in a place," says Father Anthony Sebastian of echo. "We decided to empower them and give them a decent life."

The transformation entailed a well-thought-out plan with the pivotal support of Police Commissioner S. Mariswamy and Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) Commissioner Jayakar Jerome. The aim was to train the boys to become traffic police assistants (TPAs). They were enrolled free of charge at the Police Department's Traffic Training Institute, where they were taught basic traffic skills. On completion of the course, the "students" were assigned the task of manning traffic at BDA's 10 flyovers. The boys are paid a monthly salary of Rs 2,000 each.

The TPAs are a thankful lot. Quick learners, as Traffic Inspector Muni Krishna describes them, they have fitted into their new roles as snugly as the white gloves on their hands. "From the streets to manning traffic, it has been a great journey," says Srinivas, 21, at the Indranagar flyover.

"It is amazing how buses come to a halt when we just show the stop sign," says Muniswamy, still wonder-struck. Salaam Bangalore, the breeze seems to whisper.

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements