Excluded, Neglected, Forgotten: Life Of Indians Who ‘Don’t Exist’

Working virtually an entire day will fetch them a couple of hundred rupees.

Hyderabad: 72-year-old Sattuva Motiram Chavan and his wife Ganga Bai, 68, work hard, manually beating iron with hammers in the hot afternoon summer on a state highway in Shamirpet, 20 km from Hyderabad.

Working virtually an entire day will fetch them a couple of hundred rupees. ”That is if the contractor comes to collect these,” Sattuva explained. ”Sometimes he comes 2-3 days later and till then we are just waiting.”

The couple, along with their grandson Omkar migrated from Nanded in Maharashtra to Siddipet in Telangana about two years ago.

Agriculture got mechanised in their native village and the advent of industry also pushed the original blacksmiths out of work, said Gangabai.

”Except the name of the village, there is nothing else we have in the village to call our own, so we moved, looking for livelihood,” Sattuvaji explained.

The couple moved wherever they could get work since they now had a young grandson also to support. The child’s mother had died soon after his birth and his father went away to Solapur in Maharashtra and then Mumbai for survival.

After this, the elderly couple set up a small tent by the roadside that has been their home for nearly two years. A milestone that says Siddipet 81 km is the only way to indicate where they live, since they have no proper home or address.

Six-year-old Omkar dreams of going to the school one day.

Omkar is 6. He fetches water for his grandfather, helps his grandmother blow air into the coal embers. The child in him is visible in a little broken plastic car and old tractor toy that stays with him in one hand.

When asked about their Aadhar card, subsidised ration under public distribution system (PDS), the elderly man replied, ”I feel like crying… can’t talk… what can a poor man say?”

”No Aadhaar card, no ration card, no bank account, no pension,” he said. ”When we get work, we can eat.”

With no Aadhar card, ration card or enrollment in the public distribution system, the couple has no choice but to work night and day for their daily survival.

The couple said that they have never voted in Telangana, but, ”we did vote in Nanded,” they tell NDTV. Heavy rains last year have left them with no shelter even to stay dry.

”Someone kind allowed us in a shed nearby, so we spent the nights there, and then they saw the little boy struggle and gave us a cot. Sometimes they pass on food too,” the grandmother told NDTV.

Ganga Bai said her arms and back hurt from constantly beating the iron with the heavy hammer, but they don’t have a choice.

”How much should we work? Not able to work any longer,” she said as she shows her burnt hands.

With a little pinck bag tucked away under his bed, the six-year-old dreams of attending a school just like other children.  His grandmother bought him the bag to keep him happy, but the couple is unable to send him to school.

“The headmaster asked for Rs 5,000 to admit him to school,” Gangabai said.

The option of getting him admission into a government school is also closed as they are asked for Aadhar numbers, which they don’t have.

While Omkar’s pink bag lies in a corner, the couple is beating all odds to get themselves their daily bread and butter.


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