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When uncared pay for others to be cared

By Mandira Nayar



A sex worker demonstrating in New Delhi. — File Photo

NEW DELHI, JAN. 7. Ramya, a brothel-owner (name changed) remembers the time she was dropped to her abode on G.B. Road in Delhi's red light district in the then Prime Minister's Atal Bihari Vajpayee's car. As a reminder of her only brush with mainstream society, she still has a picture of her handing over a cheque for the victims of the Gujarat earthquake to Mr. Vajpayee pasted on her wall.

She might be still waiting for any benefits from citizenship, but that does not stop her from wanting to do her "duty" for her country in every crisis. And after she has done her bit for Gujarat, she is now contributing whatever she can for the victims of the killer tsunami.

"We didn't give much for the Gujarat earthquake, but it was something we could do. We even got to speak to the Prime Minister. It was for two minutes because there were lots of people. It was our bit for our country. He treated us with respect, he even dropped us back in his car," she says smiling proudly.

Making small contributions of Rs. 10 and a little more, the sex workers on G.B. Road put together a heroic effort of Rs. 21,000 for the victims of the Gujarat earthquake. While it might have been a small amount compared with the contributions made by multinationals and many others, for the women on G.B. Road it was a big sacrifice. Barely eking out a living, the sex workers in Delhi's red light area have very little left after the "standard deductions" -- much more than what most other taxpayers have to pay up -- made by the brothel-owners as well as pimps. While charity is really not an option for someone who has practically nothing to spare, such generosity can't really be ignored. Especially when they continue to come to the aid of the country at every disaster including the recent tsunami tragedy. "It is very easy for the rich to give, but it means much more when people like this contribute. They have contributed not only in the Gujarat earthquake, but also during the Kargil war as well as the time when the earthquake struck in Latur," says the president of Bhartiya Patita Uddhar Sabha, Khairati Lal Bhola, who is coordinating their efforts.

And with only her two seconds of normal life to cling to, people like Ramya are trying to give people a shot at building theirs.

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