Story of a 10 year old Golgappevala below poverty line struggling to survive!

by rishabh on Apr 02, 2008      Category: Governance Tags: india education

I know a small kid Ramu of age 12 yrs who sells Golgappe in my locality: BTM, Bangalore, India. As the place where he has his stall is not so visible to people, i asked him to shift his stall somewhere else. He nodded but didn't said anything. Just to help this kid in advertising his Golgappevala stall, a few days back i designed and gifted a stall banner with his name etc to him. But i was shocked when he refused to take it, above which the reality i came to know which i would like to share: he told me that he is not allowed to put any banner on his stall; otherwise he has to give bribe to constables who roam daily around that area. I don't know about rest of Golgappewala but Ramu is giving a fixed bribe amount of around Rs 300/ month to those constables of nearest police station, just to remain on the corner of road. Now, out of 3k to 4k of monthly salary, isn't it bad that he is forced to give a part of that as bribe!

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rishabh's picture

Lot of question are banging my head:
Its not the case of just 1 Ramu, there are many Ramu who struggle to survive. Can’t we stop these bribes; if yes then upto what extent!
And more importantly, can’t we provide a platform to support such people below poverty line like Ramu who decided to do something on their own rather than begging.

parulgupta8ue's picture

This might be an issue faced by all hawkers, peddlers, vegetable sellers etc!! I will talk to a few in my neighborhood if they face similar harassment. I wonder whether there's a law which forbids peddlers from setting shop on streets and the constables are charging bribes for overlooking breaking these rules. Anyone knows? Will also try to get some authority to comment on it ..

aneeshcs's picture

I think there is a law against having stalls on footpaths...I had talk to my local chat stall guy and he too said that every day he had to shell out about 25 - 50 Rs to the constables...Just to be there..However bad his business was. We can't blame the constables entirely...If they do everything by the rulebook..then the stalls wouldn't be there...A tangible solution to this problem would be to find a legal spot for their stalls so that the people owning can continue their business and the constables don't have to worry about having to let them break the law by paying the bribe. I am sure that out of the money the constables collect, most of it goes to the higher officials...

rishabh's picture

On the grounds of humanity, its tough to absorb that a person is struggling to run his family and paying bribe on the other side. There is nothing wrong in providing them a little flexibility considering such a huge population of such hawkers and peddlers. Law is made for us(and that us also includes those hawkers) and also made by us. And if there are any flaws in that, it is to be amended based on present needs.
Instead of just discussing, can someone take an initiative to raise this issue to higher extent.

Goli's picture

I would like to look at this thing from other side, consider constable, he probably earns even less than what this ramu earns. And at many places I have seen this symbiotic relationship existing, where constables take some money and ensure and protect these guys, (when some big officers come the stalls are removed over night). And I dont blame the constables as well.

Honestly I dont think this problem can be solved, not that I am being pessimistic , but I think it is just how the system has to work.

Over last few months I have been trying to do lot of research on traffic policeman and trying to understand why do they take bribe. and having talked to many of them, you would feel that their situation is as pitiable as Ramu.
(Have not talked much with police constables though, but I guess would be the same)

rishabh's picture

well, thanks for presenting a different viewpoint, but i strongly disagree as this is not how the system has to work.
Its not a question how much salary a constable is getting. Although its unfair to compare constable's monthly salary of 8-10k with that of 3-4k what people like Ramu struggle to get. Above which they dont even get a fixed salary, issues like dependency over whether conditions (rain etc) always affect them.
And in case of any big officer visit, if their stalls are removed; then, i will say its an encouragement of not letting the higher authorities know about the ground reality.
Hiding the real picture from those who have power to change is itself against law.
But here is a big question : what is the solution then?
I feel a change in the mentality is required amoung those higher authorities/officials who have power to play with law and people; the need is to let them know about the ground reality. And even if it does not seems to work, the need is not to leave this topic as just discussion but to to take it as challenge and make sure that things go on in right manner. I will come up with more updates on this issue... Lets we together with NGOPost take this initiative . I know its not that easy but someone has to initiate.

Goli's picture

Hi,

Rishabh,
Really appreciate your enthusiasm, do keep us posted about what you think is a good solution to this and we would all see how we can implement it.

And just the correction, constables get salaries from 3k-5k. :(

hkhatri's picture

I do not disagree with Goli to a great extent. Often people have to pay huge bribes (few lakhs) to the higher officials to join police force (even to become constable), especially in big cities like Mumbai and B'lore.

It is assumed that they will make up for the bribes over time through people like Ramu.

At the same time, I don't think it's fair to blame the top government officials. Those people (mostly IAS officers) put in so much efforts, but they earn only 40-50K per month. Perks are fine, but you can't think of purchasing a decent house anywhere with that salary!

In a nutshell, the problem is not that shallow as it seems.

Prasanthi's picture

An NGO, Aksharakriti.org, runs a magazine, Livelihoods. ( Jeevanopadhulu in Telugu) Tonight I was glancing through them and stuck at an article by T. Nirmala (an IT Pro who switched her career to Development Sector) on these local vendors.

The article titled: Street Vendors - National Policy

The name of the policy is National Policy for Urban Street Vendors. A vendor is defined as a sales person who sells using a temporary place or a mobile stall.

1. Giving due recognition to the markets that are formed naturally.

2. If there are more number of hawkers than the size of the place, they should be controlled by Fee or Lottery but not by License.

3. Before deciding on a ban in certain areas, the govt. should take into consideration of the people who lose their livelihood and also the availability of the products that they sell in the banned areas.

4. A Town Vending Committee has to be formed and with their
partnership Vending Zones have to be identified. In this Committee, there should be 25 to 40% of members from the Hawker community and in that 1/3 should be women.

5. These Town Vending Committees must be given authority to register new hawkers or small scale businessmen. The registration process should be easy and there should be a Renewal for every three years. Identity Cards also must be issued to the road side vendors. The Town Vending Committees should take care of all these activities.

6. In Towns and Cities, 2% to 25% of the place must be allotted/given to small scale businessmen for setting up a market.

7. In such markets, there must be facilities for waste management, toilets and cover from electric shocks or short circuits. There should be provision of safe drinking water.

8. As far as possible, no street vendor should be removed. In unavoidable circumstances, they must be issued a one month notice to relocate to some other place. Those vendors who lose their livelihood must be given consideration and participation in the rehabilitation plans. Care must be taken that their livelihoods should improve or at
least maintain the status quo. In the name of beautifying the city, no businessmen should be removed from his place.

9. The sections in IPC and Police Law that are against to the interests of these road side vendors must be amended so as to safeguard the rights/lives of roadside vendors.

10. The Hawkers and smallscale businessmen must take care about the quality and cleanliness and they should follow set standards.

11. The important step is to unify and bring the street vendors to a common platform. It is advised to make them as Self Help Groups and provide them with loans. Through these SHGs, social security schemes can be imparted to them.

12. State Govts. must conduct a concrete survey about the road side vendors and should compile a database.

Thank you.

with regards,
Prasanthi.
prasanthi.wordpress.com

parul8ue's picture

thanks for the useful info, prasanthi! please give the link to the original article if it is available online.

The full text of this policy on the official website of Ministry for Housing & Urban Poverty alleviation (I didn't know there was such a ministry!!) is here:
http://muepa.nic.in/policies/natpol.htm

Those interested can request the status of enforcement of this policy in your area (thanks to RTI act!)

Prasanthi's picture

Thank you, Parul, for the url to the details of the policy. aksharakriti.org - Check this Web site. I actually translated the content from the telugu print magazine.

Yes. We, citizens, should make good use of the RTI Act.

--prasanthi.uppalapati@gmail.com

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