You can even escape the clutches of the Mumbai suburban rail network, but not the poverty. The worst thing about it is no government is doing anything to alleviate people from poverty and those who are poor are too reluctant to move out to other areas. According to recent surveys, there are nearly 14,51,000 beggars in India. Compared to last decade this number has gone up by 1 lakh. In Mumbai alone, there are nearly 3,00,000 beggars.
This time the lockdown is not as strict as it was one year ago, you can see overcrowded roads and traffic jabs and among all too many beggars at the side, on signals and in the markets. As several temples across Mumbai and Haji Ali Mosque where hundreds of beggars are located, including the Mahalaxmi and Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai’s Dadar area. Temples have been closed due to lockdown imposed in the wake of breaking the chain during the second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak. The closure of temples has really not bothered these vagabonds, because NGOs are providing them with all that they want and meanwhile traffic is always jammed, people consider their demands and land up giving what they otherwise expect.
Many daily wagers and small-time workers restored to begging, those who cannot afford shelter or afford to travel home have resorted around temples and streets. Blessed in disguise, at least city NGOs feeding these people. The lower middle class has found a sophisticated way of begging, they stand on the corners with some medical prescriptions asking for money to buy medication for their parents, wife or children, if a woman is then definitely begging in the name of one fragile child in her arms. Some ask for money for funerals and others ask for travel to go home. I don’t blame them because survival is the biggest challenge for everyone.
25 million Mumbaikars (including six million slum dwellers) and percentage of beggars in India approximately 4 lakhs to 5 lakhs. In different states of different types of the poverty line in India. Despite India’s rapid economic growth in recent years, poverty and begging are still among the biggest issues in India. Usually, thousands of beggars and people from outside who do not have any other place to reside gather at this shrine and they are largely dependent on the food served here regularly. Now that the temple and worship places are shut due to the lockdown, devotees are not visiting here and the beggars are enjoying the entire surrounding by spreading their community
The beggars around signals are almost tripled as the traffic has not soared due to the present lockdown. The State government is also providing food to the needy people amid lockdown, the beggars over here are not starving. As they are gathering in huge habitats, they don’t follow COVID norms. Police officials are trying to make these people aware of maintaining social distance and not to gather in the wake of the coronavirus threat.
In recent times the number of women and child beggars have increased surprisingly. This is because they are forced to do so by some big syndicate and the bizarre thing here is even police take their commission from these so-called groups. And, this is despite the fact that begging is a crime in most states in India.
While poverty is real, begging is quite often carried out in organized gangs. For the privilege of begging in a certain territory, each beggar hands over their takings to the gang’s ringleader, who keeps a significant share of it. Beggars have also been known to deliberately maim and disfigure themselves to get more money.
In addition, many children are abducted in India and forced into begging. The statistics are alarming. According to the Indian National Human Rights Commission, up to 40,000 children are abducted every year. The whereabouts of more than 10,000 of them remain unknown. What’s more, it’s estimated that 300,000 children across India are drugged, beaten and made to beg every day.
It’s a multi-million-dollar industry that’s controlled by human trafficking cartels. Police do little to address the problem because they often assume that the children are with family members or other people who know them. Plus, there are inconsistencies in the law on how to deal with child beggars. Many are too young to be punished. Quite a bit of welfare work in India has been directed at reducing begging, including providing beggars with jobs, with varying degrees of success.
The most common problem is that the beggars are so used to begging that they actually prefer not to work. In addition, many of them make more money from begging than they would if they did work. In Mumbai in particular, visitors are often approached by a child or woman wanting some powdered milk to feed a baby. They will assist you to a nearby stall or shop that conveniently happens to sell tins or boxes of such “milk”. However, the milk will be expensively priced and if you hand over the money for it, the shopkeeper and the beggar will simply split the proceeds between them.
Beggars also rent babies from their mothers each day, to give their begging more credibility. They carry these babies (who are sedated and hang limply in their arms) and claim they have no money to feed them. We all know these beggars mostly reside across footpaths or signal circles, but since lockdown, they are multiplying, wondering where they are coming from.
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