How much would you give this poor Indian Boy?

The trouble with Indians is that we love bragging how great our country is and how ancient our religion is and on. But does it really matter if children like these have to sell and beg to make a living? If you are going on holiday to India then you are going to see a lot of these. In fact, every time your taxi stops at the traffic light in Delhi then a boy or girl just like in the picture will come  up to you to beg or approach you to sell something. Coming from abroad, you might find this heartbreaking and out of pity you might end up buying whatever they’re selling. But we as Indians are almost immune to sights like these and most of us would probably turn a blind eye and even shoo them away.

India for kids
Boy selling pens
Poor Indian boy selling pens at traffic lights in Delhi. Would you buy his pens and how much would you pay?

The boy pictured was selling pens and was asking for Rupees 100 per pen (£1 GBR or about $1.6 USD). Mind you, the price will depend on the clothes you are wearing and type of vehicle you are on. What I am saying is that the more expensive looking clothes you are wearing, the higher the price. Anyway, the fact is that these pens don’t cost more than Rupees 10 (about £0.10 GBR or $0.16 USD) a piece.

The question is – would you buy a pen and would you pay the highly inflated price of Rupees 100 or would you bargain? To most tourists coming to India, 100 Indian Rupees is not a lot of money.

It’s not a quiz or a contest. I am really interested in what you think and how you would handle the situation. 

55 thoughts on “How much would you give this poor Indian Boy?”

  1. I remember buying a coloring book for 50 Rp from a woman in Chennai Shalu. I wanted to reward her for working hard, and selling something useful, even though I had zero use for the book.

    I appreciate people who bust their tail to get ahead.

    • You are very kind hearted and generous to buy colouring books which you probably wont’t be using be using it in the hotel room. It was very nice of you to do so Ryan. Thank you for your generosity.

  2. I don’t know how to comment on this post because there is no way we can help just by buying his pen and if we help by some way he will not stop selling this no matter what.

  3. Hi Shalu,

    Such a site is indeed part of many places in India, and it saddens my heart to see such young kids do such things. But perhaps it’s their way of earning a living or they are forced to earn this way – we can never say.

    A soft heart might pay the amount if he or she can afford it, while Indians in general would send him off even if it were a Rs.10/- he might have asked from us because they don’t need it, or don’t want to help him, or any other reason. It all depends, just as you mentioned on what rates the poor kid charges and if what he offers is really worth it.

    I’ve brought magazines and books like this, but those are kind of kids who sell them at the printed cost or sometimes even flowers if they insist, just to help them a little monetarily. It’s certainly better than paying a coin to a beggar who does nothing but beg, as you encourage such people.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice weekend 🙂

  4. Unfortunately this is a sad reality about India that we have so many small kids forced in begging and selling stuff at such a tender age. About a few years ago I decided to not give any money to them as I do not know where the money is really going.

    I have started supporting micro-finance organization Rang De, that invests in small entrepreneurs and promotes job creation through investments.
    My suggestion is always go through a reputable NGO or donate money to a orphanage or school directly. No solution is perfect but it is better not to encourage begging.

  5. There are two angles in this picture. One that the boy is looking for opportunity to sell the pens at such price and earn some money. Another angle is whether the boy is the one who will actually earn that money…

    If you have watched the movie, “Slumdog Millionaire”, it shows the real picture about the mafia behind this. Kids at these change must be nourished with food and education and that will be real help!

  6. I remember I got a hand kerchief from this type of sellers. Though it didn’t last for long time.
    I never recommend to buy anything from them.

  7. Hi Shalu,

    I think that none of us can comment on this knowing exactly what we would do, even if we have been in a similar situation, as each situation on a different day will lead us to react differently.

    I would hope that I would buy at least one if I was by myself, and one more for each person with me.

    I hope that is what would happen.

  8. I will buy this pen but will not give Rs. 100 for 10 rupees pen. I will give him maximum Rs. 10 because these types of pens can be bought with just Rs. 2-5 So, Rs. 10 is enough for pen including Rs. 5 profit!

  9. Well actually it is slightly difficult to answer this straightaway. First, right the boy is selling the pen at a very very high price. But then most of us do pay the hefty price while shopping in big malls too and mind you the price charged for any big brand item is many times more than the worth of the item or the money that would have gone in manufacturing the same. I know most people would tend to react in a different way coz they would mind paying Rs. 100 for a Rs. 10 pen but the same people don’t mind paying Rs. 10000 for a big designer/brand dress worth Rs. 1000.

  10. This boy is better than the beggars . Atleast he is selling any product and on that behalf asking more money. Many of the companies are doing this kind of work. I am not blaming but its true.

  11. Sometime, they are true begger and sometime there is a big running scam behind it. It is always better to do not pay much money to him. Always pay original price him, as told by you Rs. 10.

  12. I will say he is doing better than most of his age as his not begging and trying to earn money through hardwork to feed himself.If i’m in such situation I will give the most I can give according to my lifestyle.Now also read a comment of someone who said this can be a big scum and so don’t pay more than the original price.But I think you need to listen to your heart and do what it says to you.

  13. Hello Shalu,

    The picture remembers me of our country too. Here mainly the young kids sell newspaper, tissue, pen, colored juice etc. But the important things, these are more cheaper then original shop. But still lots of people think twice before buying – is it good or not?

    Anyway my observation is that most of these kids sell poor quality accessories. So its better not to buy.

  14. It is always sad seeing kids use in this way… but that is the point, would you buy 1 pen from an adult for the same price. It is a way to scam people – and it has been use around the world for 1000’s of years. If he was the worked at the factory that made them then had to sell them it would be sadder.

    If he/or any one can make a living selling legal non-stolen/drugs products then more power to him. I would buy one… but it would have to be red ink, not black ink.

  15. I would certainly not buy a pen for Rs 100 and would recommend anyone to do so.
    Reason : Try pushing people to do hardwork not to beg as it is the worst thing!

  16. Its not about help its all about support.This boy is at least selling some product not begging.Just go behind the screen and you will find that mafia is working there to put poor children in begging which we should discourage.And boy like this should be supported by giving some extra time.May be our any support help him to find better way for his studies and a earning source to his family.


  17. Hi Shalu,
    For me I would most likely buy it. I might try to talk him down a little.

    Here is America we have kids selling stuff door to door as fun raisers for school or to play sports.
    I will buy from kids I know. One time I bought from a kid that I didn’t know and never received what I paid for. This I blame on the parents, since they are the ones that have to sort through it and help the kids deliver it.
    As for beggars or homeless people I won’t because most of them are where they want to be and they have done articles on them and they can end up making more money that a person with full time employment. And they aren’t paying any taxes.

    Yes, I feel pain for these children, is there any organization one can give to, to help them?

  18. I had been to India last year. My car stopped by the red light and a boy came to me with road map of Delhi. It was not so expensive as he was charging for it. But seeing the hard work that boy was putting in I purchased it for rupees 100.

  19. I believe in giving thins and food item to these needy people and strictly against giving them money, because normally that money is used in a wrong way

  20. I’d buy the pen. It would be an act of kindness and mercy on my part. Seeing children like this, and elderly women burdens my heart. I would be compelled to help, even if it was run by a crime syndicate because I’d know at least for that day they’d wouldn’t go hungry.

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  22. Buying one would be better then just giving him some money because after he earns some bucks he’ll try to earn more. But if he gets it free of any hard work, he’ll become an addict to it.

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  24. Hi shali since these kids are so young i age. Can we not contribute something from our living too raise them up. Can we not make a group of 200 people and do something for them TR rather than waiting out government to do everything . We are Lucky that we could get educated and living life with pride but contributing some thing in a good cause will literally help us cherishing the true Vale of life. Even if we are able to contribute something into somr people s life it is worth starting .

  25. Our kind gesture give them the boost to sell more, instead of encouraging one should see this view as a “child labour”. There should be awareness.

  26. I will rather buy a pen but not if 50 RS but of 10 RS. I am glad that they are not begging. I have seen kids selling near metro station and I think one should take pen from them and should tell them that they should join govt school in day time and in leisure time they can sell pen or other things.


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