Children in India face many dangers. And orphaned children are at the highest risk for exploitation, starvation, illness and sadly death.

One of the most horrific scenes in the recently popular film Slumdog Millionaire involves a group of men intentionally maiming a boy so that he would gain more sympathy (and more money) as a street beggar. The men would approach children as orphanage employees,win them over with soda and food and then send them out to beg for money. Of course, what money the children came back with, the men took from them.  And what’s even worse, the children who garner the most money are often the children who are disabled in some manner.

This amazing article from the Daily Mail shines a spotlight on this “beggar mafia” and just how terrible the situation is for young children in their “care.”

Their suffering comes down to one thing: money. In a country of 1.2 billion people, where the gulf between rich and poor is vast, there are an estimated 300,000 child beggars.

By no means all are mutilated by the beggar mafia, but those with the worst injuries do make the most money — up to £10 a day for deformed children, a fortune in a country where millions survive on just a tenth of that.

The article opens with specific stories about children who have been deliberately maimed by the beggar mafia.

Dalbeer, 15, is another victim of this shocking industry. Reduced to begging at the railway station after his parents died, Dalbeer was approached by two friendly older strangers one day. ‘I thought they were maybe social workers,’ he told me. ‘I thought they could help me.’

But he was taken from everything he knew to Nagpur, a city a thousand miles from Mumbai, after the woman told him it would ‘be better there’.

It’s a long and interesting look at not only this issue in particular but India’s poverty problems as a whole.

Read it all here.