Meet Ashish Sharma, a twenty-nine-year-old techie-turned-child rights activist, who left his job at a multi-national corporation to walk 17 thousand Km on foot for achieving ‘child begging-free India’.
Ashish is an aircraft maintenance cum mechanical engineer from the Indian Institute of Aeronautics. Since graduating in 2014, he worked as a production engineer with Dan Block Brake India Private Limited for a year.
A Delhite since childhood, Ashish was highly inspired by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Swami Vivekananda, Gautam Buddha, Hazrat Muhammed and great men who worked for the upliftment of humanity. But on his way back from office, Ashish often saw children begging on the streets of Delhi.
“It is pathetic to see little children begging for a living. They have no idea of parents. I rescued nine such children and rehabilitated them in juvenile homes. Most of them were victims of trafficking and organized begging,” Ashish told indianexpress.com here, after he reached Tripura through Mizoram as part of his nationwide walk.
After he rescued the last child, Ashish decided that he would walk across the country to raise awareness on child rights and put an end to child begging.
He started his walk from Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir and has covered 9,139 Km across 21 states including Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Himachal, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Daman-Diu, Silvasa, Maharashtra, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Sikkim, Assam, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura.
Ashish walks with a backpack, a mobile phone, some cash and an Indian flag. He wishes ‘Jai Hind’ to everyone he talks to.
Speaking on how the comfort-accustomed technocrat has managed on the streets, he says, “I am covering the entire distance solely on foot. It started with troubles and a lot of dehydration. Now I have a backpack filled with all I need.”
Ashish feels though governments have their responsibilities, demanding rights from governments haven’t yielded much till now.
“Seventy two years after Independence, we still have to raise voice against child begging. It says enough. I feel the society has as much responsibility as the government does. It’s time we started taking them up,” Ashish says.
Two of his friends who are Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers are helping him with the finances of his mission. “I don’t beg from anyone. It would sound ridiculous to fight begging with begging,” he said with a wink.
Ashish’s father is a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) employee, his brother is an advocate and his mother is a homemaker. When he first told his idea of quitting a job of Rs. 6 lakh per annum, the entire family went berserk.
“I even got beaten at the beginning. But gradually, they understood my genuine hope for a child begging-free India. Now they support me unequivocally,” the man on the mission said.
He wishes to meet senior government officials during his mission on road. The 17 thousand km long walk is expected to end in October next year. Ashish wants to complete his mission in the burial place of former President Late APJ Abdul Kalam at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu.
“It was his vision that all children should go to school by 2020. I shall not rest till then”, he said.