Kids, forced into begging, greet visitors at Manginapudi beach

Yanadi and Chenchu children spend hours standing under the sun for alms

November 13, 2019 09:09 am | Updated 09:09 am IST - MACHILIPATNAM

Children begging for alms at the Manginapudi beach in Krishna district on Tuesday.

Children begging for alms at the Manginapudi beach in Krishna district on Tuesday.

Devotees arriving at the Manginapudi beach to offer prayers on Kartika Pournami were greeted by the reality of the country’s stark economic divide as scores of Yanadi and Chenchu tribal children — some aged three — begged for alms all day long.

The Yanadi and Chenchu tribes are among the poorest in the country as they lack access to basic healthcare and education.

Some of the children were dressed up by their parents as Mahatma Gandhi, with their bodies painted in silver colour.

Abject poverty

A large number of the children were girls, looking tired in tattered clothes. Some, however, managed to play with other children while going on with their day’s job: begging.

Either side of the entire 300-metre stretch of the beach road was completely occupied by the beggars belonging to the two tribes - Yanadi and Chenchu - whose regular livelihood options are fishing and agriculture.

The child beggars are either illiterates or school drop-outs.

But all of them appear al-nourished. Elders laid out their saris on the floor, beseeching the visitors to drop their offerings in response to the children’s appeal.

Lost childhood

A 10-year-old Yanadi tribal boy Rajesh (Name changed) standing dressed up as Mahatma Gandhi told The Hindu : “My parents have asked me to stand in this attire and beg since Monday, and I am doing it.”

When this reporter was taking Rajesh’s photographs, he was busy with his task of pleading visitors for alms as his mother kept an eye on him. When asked about their livelihood options, many parents and children hesitated to respond.

The paint is made up of cheap chemicals, and those who are painted in it often end up contracting skin ailments.

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