World of India!: EditorsEdit :The Beggars of India e

World of India!

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EditorsEdit :The Beggars of India

You can run but you cannot hide! They are everywhere. On the streets, at every traffic signal, at every temple or tourist site, in small villages, towns to big metropolises - India's beggars are omnipotent.In the course of ones life in India, it’s often easy to remember some beggars. After all you have to see some of them daily and often for years altogether. It’s easy to believe that most of us develop some kind of relationship with the beggars we know. Some we develop sympathy towards, towards others we develop disgust, for some we reserve our animus - but in the end, almost all of us develop a sense of guilt. Guilt that makes us think- do I owe this person something which I have taken from him ?- not directly perhaps, but something which we owe to society and hence to that person? Guilt of us living in comfort, while they have to stand begging, braving the elements, come rain or shine.

Just yesterday, we watched an extremely old woman begging at a traffic signal in pouring rain, with a sheet of plastic barely covering her. Many must have taken a rupee out for her by rolling their windows that morning- we did. I have often observed that it is the relatively less well to do that often end up giving alms, more than the ones traveling in their cars with windows rolled up. It’s easier to lock your guilt and force oneself not to look at the beggar to avoid giving alms and looking at reality. The commuter on the bike has no such luxury. If he does not look, the beggar will tug at him and by extension tug at his guilt.

Yet, the bigger problem is that the guilt doesn't go away once you are done with giving your daily quota of alms. You cannot wash it, little by little with the rupees you throw away. In fact, after you have given that rupee you often end up feeling guiltier- for giving too less. Those traffic signals which turn green abruptly, forcing you to step on the gas and move away while you were fishing for that rupee, are the worst.

The city where I live is well known for its prowess in Information technology. The growth rate of the economy has been scorching for the past few years and the money just keeps rolling, for the privileged few. But perversely, this has also led to an unprecedented rise in the number of beggars. What was a trickle has led to a flood. There have been cries that the "Government needs to do something”. Yet I think the beggars perform an important function in our city. They keep our conscience alive and that’s hardly a contribution that can go a begging!

The latest controversy in India, where Doctors were caught amputating healthy limbs to aid begging has, not surprisingly, created a furore. More than anything else people feel cheated. Cheated by the beggars for one and cheated by one of 'our own' who fell low enough to take money from the beggars and their ringmasters. Somewhere these is a hope. Our minds are whirring furiously - "these beggars are the work of a mafia, the mafia is in cahoots with the Doctors who manufacture pity using the surgeons knife. If the mafia and the Doctors are arrested, the beggars will go away to wherever they came from".

Can this really happen? Hope springs eternal, until tomorrows traffic signal at the commute...


Photocourtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mamen/144901429/

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August 23, 2006 1:13 AM

You have brought out your concern impressively. Looking forward to more like these.    



August 23, 2006 1:20 AM

nice post, and you have brought out the 'guilt' factor pretty well. I really hope a real solution to the problem comes in the mind of an intelligent person who has the power to implement it. you have a nice blog (and I did click some of your ad links.. lol!!)    



August 23, 2006 10:03 PM

@gaurav: You are the only one who was good enuf to do it...lol !    



October 21, 2007 1:05 PM

well,its nice to know that there are people who are not blind to the world around them....good job...and i would suggest you to please try and send your articles in newspapers as well...as a little section of the society has access to internet....and if you can gater more information...please keep publishing it or putting the information on net.....    



October 08, 2009 10:59 AM

This is something impressive, i was actually finding out thoughts to write over this and i feel glad i will be able to ,now in a much catching way.great job and great post...thanks    



April 19, 2011 8:30 PM

While I would not dispute the sentiments of those giving alms, I personally feel that we must contemplate on the reason that has lead to a person being a beggar. Was it some kind of "majboori" or a chosen profession with no skills needed?    



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