Sanjay Chavan was pleasantly surprised to see census enumerators asking for details about him and his family. For, in 52-years of his existence, he has never been enumerated before.
He spent more than four decades in a village in the Ahmednagar district, where he originally hails from, working as an agricultural labourer, his pet peeve being that he was never enumerated there.
Now that he has come to Mumbai, living on the pavements since the past six years, he is being enumerated, as one of the many homeless families in the city.
Thanks to a drought-like situation back home, Chavan could no longer sustain his family in the bare minimum that he earned. Add to that, Chavan even had an accident with a tractor moving over his feet, partly crushing them. That’s when he decided to move to Mumbai, making the pavement outside Dadar railway station his home. Now, he earns around Rs 150 per day, hardly enough to sustain a family of seven.
Ironically, all the five children that Chavan had have come after he shifted to Mumbai and fortunately for them, unlike many others, his wife has never had any miscarriage, nor have any of his newborn children died.
“Every time my wife gets pregnant, we shift back to the village for her delivery and stay there for a few months until she is comfortable with coming back,” says Chavan.
After the enumerators have finished taking his details, Chavan asks us why would we need details of his life. When he is told that the Centre will look at this data, he tried to hide his hopefulness and asks, “Will there be any benefits, now that we’ve given you the data?”