The beggar problem in India is a matter of great shame and concern. They are visible at bus-stops, buses, railway stations, in trains, at red lights, near temples, at market, etc. A beggar is a stigma and he is a burden on the society. Begging neither involves physical labour nor mental exertion. It flourishes because people tend to be generous. Innocent people are forced into begging by anti-social elements. Some beggars earn more than most of the low paid workers. They get used to a life of leisure. It is a matter of shame that even after many years of independence our roads and streets are still infested with beggars. One cannot escape their pleadings for alms. Sometimes it seems as if begging has become a part of an organised crime. Some of the beggars appear to be quite healthy and stout. It seems they have found begging to be the most convenient method of earning money.
They exploit their handicap and beg in the name of God. God-fearing and charitable people give them alms. I have experienced that they pose to be deaf and dumb in order to arouse the sentiments of the passerby and ooze their sympathy. They do not spare even foreign tourists as they complain about having a bad experience in India. Beggars if they happen to spot some foreigners, they would not leave them until they force them to give them alms. It is a sin against humanity to patronise beggars. With our help we are spoiling a person and are creating a problem for the society by adding to the number of beggars. Such people are illiterate and should be educated about the hazards of falling prey to anti-social elements.
The authorities should impose a ban on begging so that the pursuers and perpetrators of begging should be dealt with an iron hand. Priority should be given to eradication of extreme poverty. The physically handicapped beggars should be taken care of. Banning of begging is a positive step and will help counter the menace of beggars in the city. Many people consider begging as a source to obtain money without doing any work. The Government should rehabilitate the aged, the ill and physically challenged beggars. Beggars who are willing to work should be trained according to their ability, health and talent. Begging mafia who abduct children to force them into begging should be punished. The ban on begging will help curb the trend of forcing children into this trade. The Government should provide necessary vocational training to rehabilitate them. The expenses incurred should be borne by the Government. The healthy beggars should be force to work for their livelihood. People should stop giving alms to beggars. If the eminence of begging is not checked immediately, it will turn out to be a big social evil in future.
Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)