By Ritika Chawla:
Traffic signals are supposed to be one of the most boring places. But here, in India this is not so. A one minute stop at the red signal and you’ll get to see all kinds of unasked for thought provoking scenes. Small children with unkempt hair performing some petty tricks, young girls carrying naked, teary eyed babies, boys singing in their high pitched voice seeking your attention (and of course some money!), men and women with body parts missing, being pushed in carts asking for some mercy, promising on god’s behalf that all will be well with you. And more often than not we, the owners of big houses, pretty clothes, own vehicle, without another thought hand them a 5 or 10 Rupee note (how very generous of us!).
But have we ever wondered that why the same scene is repeated on the next or next to next or on every other red signal? Why is it that often you cannot distinguish one set of beggars from another, why is their style of beggary so deceptively similar? That’s because they are provided special training for this (and you thought only doctors and engineers needed training!). More often than not they are all the victims of big mafia gangs operating in our cities. These mafias have big rackets playing all over the country. Children are kidnapped, rented, maimed, exploited in every possible way and then left on streets, trains and buses to ‘earn’. At the end of the day, all their collections are snatched away. Robbed of their childhood, even before they can know what it means; these children then enter the never ending cycle of this beggary business. Begging to them then becomes an easy way of life. Neither are they trained to contribute to the society in any form. Thus they end up adding to the burden of unemployed population of the country.
According to a survey conducted by a Hyderabad sociologist, Dr. Mohammed Rafiuddin, there were 7.3 lakh beggars in 2008 in India and their annual earnings were calculated to be Rs.180 crores. One person earns about Rs.100-125 per day out of which they are entitled to just Rs. 40-50 per day. And this racket business is most prevalent in areas of pilgrimage where devotees are in their most generous mood.
How do we deal with this seemingly solution-less problem? Clearing slums, evicting beggars may seem attractive in the short run. But cutting the leaves does not kill the tree. For that we need to target the roots. So the problem boils down to dealing with these mafia gangs running the whole thing. There is a need to strike down on such groups. This is possible through stricter legislation and more responsibility on the part of local police. Such easy existence of these gangs and rackets is surely not possible without the coordination of local authorities. Â Moreover state government needs to come up with proper housing facilities for the people who are rescued from claws of this racket, and employment opportunities for those who are capable of working. Solving this problem is not something which can be done in a day. It’s a huge responsibility which needs to be dealt with utmost intelligence and perseverance. Basically the solution to this problem is not a direct one. To deal with it we need proper implementation of present laws like Right to Education, Food security etc. Also it requires honesty on part of law-enforcers. Thus solution to this problem lies in efficiency government.
Begging has led to a huge wastage of potential human resources and will continue to do so if unchecked. It’s a responsibility of not only the state but also the citizens not to encourage beggary in any form.
Img:Â Heavenhated (flickr)