The Yanadi and Chenchu people living in the Machilipatnam area of Andhra Pradesh decided to dramatize their poverty by having their kids do a lot of begging.
A reporter visited the scores of children, some as young as three years old, crowded along a beach road at the popular Manginapudi Beach in Krishna District, located on the Bay of Bengal about seven miles from the town of Machilipatnam. According to a story last week in The Hindu, the two societies are among the poorest in India.
When the reporter visited the scene, he found both sides of the road for about 300 meters crowded with beggars from the two groups. The parents, who accompanied their children to the site, spread out their saris on the ground and implored the people passing by to respond to the appeals of the kids and put their offerings on the clothes. The regular occupations of the parents are fishing and agriculture.
Some of the parents painted their children and dressed them as Mahatma Gandhi. Some kids were able to play with others while they begged for alms. Many of the kids were girls, dressed in tattered clothing and looking tired. They all appeared to the reporter to be malnourished.
The reporter spoke with a 10-year-old boy who explained that his parents wanted him to spend the day begging dressed as the Mahatma. He continued with his assigned task of begging while the reporter took pictures. The children and their parents hesitated to answer his questions about their options for livelihoods.