Student-cum-shoeshine boy | india | Hindustan Times
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Student-cum-shoeshine boy

THOUGH SHOESHINE boys were immortalised on the silver screen by award winning and acclaimed films like ?Boot Polish? and ?Deewar?, their plight has not changed. The shoeshine boys have become such an integral part of the Indian society that most films prior to the 80?s featured them.

india Updated: May 25, 2006 11:10 IST

THOUGH SHOESHINE boys were immortalised on the silver screen by award winning and acclaimed films like ‘Boot Polish’ and ‘Deewar’, their plight has not changed. The shoeshine boys have become such an integral part of the Indian society that most films prior to the 80’s featured them.

Though Amitabh Bachchan played a shoeshine boy only for few minutes in the Yash Chopra classic Deewar, the profession of shoe shining is antedated and common in the country.

Some do it for money, some because of problems back home and others because they have no other option. Though the reasons may be varied the phenomenon of young urchins engaged in the profession continues.

Hiralal Acharia, a 16-year old studying in Government Sindhi Ucchtar Madhyamik Vidyalaya of Gadi Adda locality, repairs shoes and polishes them to supplement his family income.

Speaking to Hindustan Times he said that his grandfather was a cobbler and his father Kailash pursued the family business for some time until the changed circumstances and readymade culture spinning out brands made it difficult for him to make ends meet.

He had seen his father at work in the earlier profession and often helped him with his present job of making seat covers for cars and two-wheelers. He found the part where sewing was concerned similar to stitching a shoe.

Two years back some friends in school and near home in the Karbala area convinced him into joining their league. He sets out during his spare time with a bag full of necessary articles and during the course of the day earns anything between Rs 150 to Rs 200  which he gives to his parents. He often buys gifts for his mother Leela Bai- a housewife and two younger brothers studying in a private school.

Having appeared for the 10th State board exams he is awaiting his results and in his spare time and during vacations he engages in shoe shining and repair. After completing his schooling he wishes to become either a teacher or a police officer.

Vikas a 13-year old used to shine shoes near the Rajwada area for the past one-and-a-half years until the recurrent road widening, traffic diverting and constant harassment by the police made him a vagrant wandering with his equipment in order to make a living.

He had studied till the third standard in Anita Memorial School and had to leave the school as his family could not afford his fees.

His father Suresh remained out of job most of the time and had become a habitual drunkard thus making life miserable for his mother, younger sister and two brothers who picked rags to earn their livelihood.

Though they work without complaint their right to decent living and livelihood depends on the awakening of the society.