Millions of impoverished children in India migrate from villages each year to cities–in buses, by foot or in crowded trains, with their humble belongings bundled over their heads; in search of hope, a means to survive and a better life. Some arrive alone, while some accompany their families. Many adapt to the fast paced lives of cities, get addicted to street life and live on permanently, while some return to harsher realities at home. Almost instantly they take to low paid jobs and vulnerable, exploitative and harmful occupations. From begging, picking wastes, working at people’s homes or at construction sites, these children serve a city that is unfriendly towards them. These illegal citizens have laws that protect them in theory, but rarely in practice, owing to their unending distress.
Their numbers are large and their contributions to city life are enormous, yet, they are unable to access basic education, healthcare, economic and social benefits, permanent homes or even the security of a family, living on the periphery of urban public life.
A look at how migrant children in India take on almost everything that city life offers and mould to fit the needs of our cities, fulfilling the jobs that others won’t do.