ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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India Digitalised

Street urchins who beg at railway stations and are deprived of most of the basic amenities of life still find time to derive pleasure from computer games at cyber cafes.

I happened to visit a cyber café recently as my PC had crashed. The café is located adjacent to the No 1 platform of the railway station at Barasat Junction, West Bengal. As I peeped into the congested space I noticed all the machines were taken; a closer look revealed that except for two machines being used by a young college boy and a girl, all the other chairs were occupied by kids. All of them had their backs to me so I could not see their faces; but I could see the screens of the computers before them and I realised that all the children were playing cyber games. I was naturally very surprised at the thought of so many kids playing games in a cyber café on a weekday morning. Didn’t they have school? It wasn’t session-break time! Immediately I thought of my 12-year-old elder son who still hadn’t tasted the pleasure of this kind of freedom.

As I entered the café and took a closer look at the kids, I got the shock of my life: playing those cyber games at full go as seasoned players were street urchins—eight to 13 years of age, approximately—who beg at railway platforms and whose lives are centred in, and around, the railway stations. There were both boys and girls, and as I stood there stunned, some other kids came running in; those who were until then playing went off and the newcomers occupied their seats.

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