Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Beggars and begging in India..

Last month we planned a trip to Agra with this Dutch friend of ours and what I saw after we came out from Red fort was quite astounding. Bunch of guys were pleading to our Dutch friend to buy something from them even if he was not interested and none of them were  approaching us to sell their items. There were some beggars as well who just didn’t want to go away from the sight even after making them realize that he is with us. Finally our friend had to give in and bought a couple of items from one of them. But it does not stop here, as he buys memorabilia from the guy, fellow sellers barged into the car and started pretending that they are selling the items in much lowers prices than they usually sell to other ‘foreign’ travelers. Now one thing was quite amusing to me was their accent. They were speaking in rather much better accent and were directing to him only and none of them cared that we were also there. Now this tells that money can make you do anything, yeah anything. This is just a small example.

Now, that just got me thinking, how does a foreigner attracts more sellers than fellow Indians who understand the language better? May be he is a better customer, may be they can fool them? They start a 50 rs item in whopping price of roughly 1500 and then the buyer tries to half it thinking he is clever. But is he?  And doesn’t it tell you a thing or two about our culture.

Now coming to the begging part, what I think is, that foreigners accentuate the problem of begging in India, because for them giving a rupee or two or sometimes a ten rupee note is not a big thing (and this entails them to deride Indians by deducing that India is still a poor country and full of beggars) but what they don’t realize is that they are breeding an unpopular culture here. This problem can be abated if not eradicated if foreign travelers are advised at the airport itself not to give any money to beggars and if they are so interested in throwing largesse they should rather donate in some NGOs.

Few days back I saw a kid at metro at around 10:30 PM stymieing a lady, he was coming in her way when ever she tried to walk ahead putting her in an embarrassing situation. We rebuked the kid then only he left the lady and later we found out that he was drunk.

Begging has become a profession in some families who just want to continue their family business despite having resources to make their own life. May be this is easy or may be they don’t want to work hard.

Beggars operate in a very organized manner; they have a certain territories which they can not cross. And that is why you might have noticed that if you don’t give money they will accompany you to certain place and then will walk away and will find another victim.

If you didn’t know, begging is a crime in India but then isn’t drunk driving also a crime? But who cares the law as long as we can get away with it. We should wake up to reality sooner than later.

The offense of begging comes under prevention of begging act. It is a state law and differs from state to state. In Delhi The Bombay Prevention of Begging Act 1959 is applicable which deals with the penalty or detention of beggars for the offense of begging. Not just begging but if you are giving money to the beggar it is a crime too.

So from next time whenever you see a firang giving money to beggars just stop them there and then.

It really hurts seeing infants begging, teenagers working in hotels and innocents getting trafficked.

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

Good Morning, Have a nice day!