Ashish Sharma (29) is seen here passing through Dimapur on August 18 as part of his 17,000 km walk across India to raise awareness and eventually eradicate child begging from the country. (Morung Photo)
Ashish Sharma has walked 8603 km till date to raise awareness on issue
Morung Express News
Dimapur | August 18
Child trafficking and subsequent begging has led to scores of children from all over India to land up without a decent childhood and basic rights. Put into organized begging and other trades, depending on their age, children are unable to move out from the oppression, thereby denying them even a decent adulthood.
Attempting to raise awareness on the situation and eradicate “beggary” from India, Ashish Sharma (29) is on a 17,000 km walk through the country. Currently he is passing through Dimapur on his way to Kohima—he has already completed 8603 km of the walk.
“I will try to meet the Governor and Chief Minister of Nagaland to raise awareness of a beggar-free India,” said Ashish Sharma while speaking to The Morung Express.
Sharma hails from Delhi and is a mechanical engineer by profession. He is the founder of Duayen Foundation, a grassroots movement for child protection and development. Through this he initiated the ‘Unmukt India’ campaign.
One evening while returning home from work, Sharma saw a child with a bleeding hand, begging on the streets of Delhi. He took the child home, gave him first aid, new clothes and enrolled him in a nearby school. Deciding to pursue the issue, he quit his job and embarked on a journey to cover the entire country on foot to create awareness against children begging.
“The idea of children begging on the streets was very disturbing. Even in Dimapur, the children begging have all migrated from somewhere and are likely targets of further trafficking,” explained Ashish Sharma, who will walk onward to Manipur after Kohima. He covers 30-40 km per day on foot on a simple diet of dal-roti; he walks with his bags and an Indian national flag in hand. He has the support of 35 bureaucrats.
“We organize big events around such issues but fail to make a mark. Walking around the country has given me the opportunity to transmit the message to hundreds of people each day. Government welfare schemes were not reaching those who actually deserve them because of lack of awareness,” he said.
Sharma started his journey from Jammu on August 22, 2017, covering, Jammu, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Daman, Silvassa, Maharashtra, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and now Nagaland. He has met several child rights activists here.
He aspires to organize a mega-marathon in Delhi at the end of his journey to bring home the point and the lessons learned from his journey.
“People in Nagaland are very hospitable, but its roads are in such a bad condition. The dust is not healthy for children or adults to breathe in on a daily basis,” said Sharma, hoping that the government will take note of such a pertinent public grievance and correct the situation.
In order to curb child begging, he envisaged addressing child rights issues, taking reformatory measures and empowering either vocational or regular education as the need of the hour.