A woman carrying a baby, seemingly sick and sound asleep, running around begging for food or money in the scorching sun is a common sight in India. Heart rendering isn’t it? The first reaction would always be to hand out any food or money available to give some sort of comfort to the child. But hold on a second and read through before acting on the very basic human instinct.
Beggars in India is a reality
There is more to begging and beggars in India than meets the eye. Poverty is a sad reality about the country. It is a conundrum that is deep rooted and in spite of the efforts made by the Government and the Non Government Organisations (NGOs), it will take considerable time to phase out. The beggars are just one of the by-products of this mess.
Now there may be some who are genuine and forced to beg out of compulsion. But more often than not there are well organized gangs who run begging rackets. Yes unbelievable but true there are big syndicates whose sole source of income is begging. For them begging is the easy way to earn money and they do it by playing on the sympathy of the unsuspecting tourist or passerby.
Sometimes it will be children, some with a visible deformity, even amputated hands and legs or a burnt body part on display; ladies pretending to be mothers carrying their apparently sick babies in lap, who are more often than not rented; aged women and men. Yes these sights are appalling and quite moving but it is very important to react carefully when dealing with them.
As a tourist one needs to be cautious as they are more likely to be targeted and taken advantage of. One can find beggars around eminent monuments, railway stations, religious and spiritual sites, and shopping districts. In big cities they can be found at major traffic intersections where they approach vehicles while the lights are red. It is often best to ignore these people; harsh perhaps but that is indeed the best way out. Many a times you may give something to a beggar out of the kindness of your heart but the very next moment you will be hounded for more by others of the gang. Unfortunately this is the way it works.
Still if your heart wants to help them, only give 10-20 rupees or buy them some food at a time and that too while you are leaving the place to prevent being mobbed. Being generous is good but often in today’s world it is one’s kindness that is taken advantage of. They say wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness but is also true wherever there is a human being, there is also an opportunity for being duped. Be careful, be alert and be informed to make your holiday free from any untoward incidences!
Despite India’s growing economy, beggars in India is a reality.