Social Issues
The Price Of Poverty: Young Boys In India Fish Coins Out Of Rivers So Their Families Can Afford Food
December 27, 2012
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This is one of those stories where you can't help but admire the people in it, and feel sad for them at the same time.

At the centre of it is a 10-year-old boy named Rohit Kumar. He lives in India in the state of Bihar and his family is very poor.

So, every day for the past few weeks, Rohit has gone to the banks of the Gandak river with magnetic rings tied to end of a fishing pole.

The reason?

To try to fish coins out the water, that have been thrown into the river by visitors during a huge month-long fair.

And he doesn't just go for a few minutes. He puts in a 12-hour day, from 5am to 5pm - which means he's not in school.

He's missing classes for a month, to help his family get by. Any money Rohit finds, he gives to his parents so they can get enough food for he and his three siblings.

"I fish out around 100 rupees [$1.83] to 110 rupees every day and my mother is happy with my efforts," Rohit told the BBC.

His father makes about the same, when he can find work.

Rohit first started going to the river a couple of years ago after he noticed other boys heading out each morning.

"I was curious, so one day I went along with them and learned the tricks of the trade," he said.

Now, hundreds of boys hang around the river waiting for someone to throw a coin in the water and when someone does, the race is on.

Another boy Rakesh Kumar comes to the river each day with his brother. They come from a family of nine.

"I generally collect coins worth 150 rupees ($2.70) a day and most of the time my family buys food with this money," Rakesh said.

For all their dedication and ingenuity, a comment from a local merchant is perhaps the most poignant of all.

"These young coin collectors may use different magnet sizes or different colours of plastic ropes," he said.

"But one thing which they have in common is their gruelling poverty."

Nearly 30% of India's 1.2 billion people live below the poverty line - that's about 360 million people living on 56 cents a day or less.

Overall, India has reduced poverty - from 55% in the early 70s to about 30% now.

But critics says it's not happening fast enough, especially when you consider how quickly India's economy is growing.

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