Common Wealth Games, one of the biggest events that Delhi will ever host. This is one event where Delhi has to be at its best. With clearing of Yamuna banks and constructions of new buildings and other infrastructural contours, Delhi is trying to be the best. But in this rush and hush there certainly are things and problems we are not looking at. One of the biggest is ‘beggars’. Just imagine this hypothetical scenario. An athelete from China is travelling in a car in Delhi, sitting at the back seat. Every traffic light his car stops at he comes across a beggar. Wouldn’t that be annoying for him and moreover, wouldn’t that tarnish the image of Delhi and India? The answer is obvious.
“More than 100,000 foreigners will be in the city,” Vijay Babli, the leader of more than 1,200 beggar families living in New Delhi’s Rohini’s Lal Quarter, told the Hindustan Times. “Even if one beggar earns 150-200 rupees per day [Â£2-Â£2.80], you can understand the turnover for us.”
Eventhough the Delhi Government has promised to get rid of beggars before the Games, this one will be a tough job. Mobile courts, in the backs of vans and operated by a police task force, are being introduced to speed up convictions for begging. Officials have suggested a biometric database to identify repeat offenders so that they can be locked up or expelled from the city. Bylaws allow beggars to be sent to a special home for a year. Habitual offenders can be jailed for ten.
But don’t these sound tentative measures? We need permanent beggar homes in Delhi. We need schools and colleges to open shelters at night for these beggars. There must be a serious fine and jail term for those who are physically fit and are found begging. We need long term solutions for those whose jhuggis are being broken and removed from the Yamuna banks so that they don’t add to the population of beggars.
Although it feels great to know that after such a long time Delhi is undergoing a revival, but is this revival for the good? Will this change be forever? Will we be able to curb a population of 1 Lakh beggars?
The Government has promised to do this, but I wonder how this will happen. Post your comments and views or mail them to us at [email protected]