Child beggars and all beggars live out of our sympathy. Once we stop giving alms, begging can be controlled to a great extent. The first step should be to make arrangements for the settlement of child beggars with their mothers, if any. Secondly, arrangements should be made to collect the beggars and place them in poor homes set up for them. Thirdly, in addition to a law and order problem, begging has created insecurity among parents of small children. Hostility against beggars derives from the conviction that there are dangerous beggar mafias and gangs, which abduct children, cut off their limbs and blind them, and then use them for begging activities. Children often beg because their parents and guardians send them out to beg, or simply because they do not feed them.
A practice of ‘hiring’ children in the age group of 2 to 10 years and forcing them into begging on the streets has become rampant. The notion that begging is a crime derives not just from fears of begging mafias, but also from the conviction that begging is the first resort of the lazy poor. As children are engaged in seeking alms they are addicted to begging and some of them are becoming anti-social elements. Many victims suffer with physical and psychological problems as they are kept for a long time in laps and which hampers their growth. The enforcement agencies should get to the bottom of the begging racket, identify the real culprits and bring them to book. Children should be taught to earn their livelihood. A separate police force to deal with children must be created.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)