Yesterday, while setting up for Street Smart at the usual spot in the park, we glanced at a person sleeping under the trees a little way from where we were. Since people sleep under trees everywhere in Gandhi Park, we did not give it second thought. Then the sleeping figure began to stir in jerks and we recognized Sanjay, drunk to the hilt (if that is an expression). He was brought over and placed on one of our mats, was given water to drink and later to wash himself with. He then slept for a while, as the rest of us went about our routine and eventually sat with the others to eat lunch, albeit in a almost-but-not-quite sober state.
So it turns out he had earned a little bit too much money and not knowing what to do with it, spent it on some desi, locally-produced cheap alcohol.
This is what is happening at the end result of the feeling of दान (daan) that inspires everybody to dole out the spare change to these kids. Unwittingly, in their bid to do good, people end up doing more harm than if the kids were left without money.
So the next time you see somebody giving a rupee or more to a child, ask the generous donor what s/he is sponsoring on that day for the child: a packet or two of गुटखा (gutkha), a bottle of correction fluid or what is popularly called solution or maybe a quarter of cheap alcohol.