A Longer March

It’s 60 years too late and still, the 2009 Education Act leaves out half of India’s children, says PUJA MARWAHA

I MET 27-year-old Sushila in a Bhandup slum, located about five metres off Mumbai’s railway tracks. A mother of two daughters aged 12 and three, she works as a domestic help in a high-rise on the opposite side of the tracks. “Where I work, they live in such great comfort that they have running water in taps!” says Sushila, for whom collecting drinking water is a daily wading through a broken nullah to access a leaking pipe. The slum dwellers have petitioned the government repeteadly for drinking water taps and electricity, to no avail. “I will live without them,” she says, leaning against rough tin sheets that serve as her home walls. “What I can’t bear is that there is absolutely nothing for my children.”

What Sushila is hinting at is an anganwadi – a government nursery, which in theory provides all 3-6 year olds a safe place to play, learn from a governmentappointed teacher and get a free midday meal. But since Sushila’s slum is ‘unrecognised’, it doesn’t qualify and those who lose out are too young to demand it. Read More>>


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