Beggars can’t be choosers. They always have to wait for the one or two coins they receive in alms. People beg everywhere, across the length and breadth of our country. Looking at the tattered condition they live in, it sometimes makes people like me wonder about how they live.
Concealed in all of this is actually a very rigid custom. Begging is a worldwide phenomenon. It is an age-old practice. And it appears that beggars only exist for the salvation of the rich and wealthy. Giving alms to a beggar is regarded as ‘doing good’ by the more traditional people of Indian society. Within this custom, a beggar who needs to make ends meet, knows just how much pressure to put on the ‘giver’, and for how long. They also know how to talk to religious-minded people into giving them money, even if it’s just a small amount.
You might be surprised to know about the prevalence of tech-savvy beggars in China. They have begun using mobile payments to ask for alms. In fact, the ‘QR code beggars‘ have become a common sight following the massive technological boom in our neighbouring country.
Chinese beggars, who practice an advanced method of soliciting alms, carry a printout of QR codes in their begging bowls. They ask the kind-hearted people to donate via the two most popular Chinese e-Wallets—Alipay and Wechat. Looks they have learnt to march with the times!
There’s an even more interesting side to this. These beggars are paid by small businesses and local start-ups for every scan they receive. These scans allow the businesses to harvest user data via the e-Wallet applications. This data is then compiled and later sold for marketing.
The beggars in China, normally collect between ¥0.7 and ¥1.5 for every scan they happen after they manage to get alms. This way, a beggar can make more than ¥4500. This is in close proximity to the minimum wage obtainable in China. All in a day’s work!