Begging for an answer

The central relief committee of the state social welfare department is observing the beggary eradication month (BEM) from February 22 to March 21. All those found begging in Bangalore city, have been rounded up.

The committee has already drawn flak as it was found that some of those picked up were not beggars but victims of mistaken identity. One wonders as to what prompted the government to suddenly wake up to this social menace and decide that it was time to rehabilitate all those sustaining themselves on alms and getting the goat of the general public for harassing them no end at signals and bus stops.
The government’s propaganda machinery has gone overboard in highlighting the initiatives to eradicate beggary in the state and also make Bangalore a beggar-free city. The effort, if it succeeds, would be laudable — especially if the beggars are provided with training in various vocations and rehabilitated in toto.

However, one wonders if the government’s efforts in this direction will come to an abrupt end once the BEM draws to a close.
The dictum ‘Beggars cannot be choosers’ indicates that the beggars themselves will have little choice in cooperating with the government for they will be picked up just like stray dogs.

Begging — like the oldest profession, prostitution — is indeed as old as the hills. Even with free and compulsory education, the progeny of beggars are rarely sent to schools. They take to the profession as soon as they are able to stand and walk. Worse still, they are exploited even as infants.

It is a pity that the government as well as NGOs have not been able to rehabilitate, if not beggars, at least the children.

The problem is not simple. The government’s initiatives like the BEM might only end up like skimming the surface. Those who have not been trapped by the government would continue to beg. But the faces that will continue to haunt you for long will be those of the little boys and girls in their tattered clothes, with hunger knotting their stomachs and with no future in store.

To bring sunshine into their lives is an endeavour that should engage the attention of not just the government and NGOs but each and every one of us. Beggars too deserve a choice and have a right to a proper livelihood.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get the top news in your inbox
Comments (+)