Have you seen the handicapped beggar at the India Garage junction on Richmond Road? I am talking about the young guy who goes around parked vehicles at the traffic signal, showing off his legs with multiple oozing sores! There is another guy at this very same junction, who will come close to you and suddenly bare his arms showing the skin peeled off and the white flesh beneath. When he did that to me, I nearly passed out and the next thing I know is that people were chasing him down the road. For a business man I must say, he went a little overboard in selling his wares! Now if you are wondering if I am talking of the same beggar, then I am.
Beggary is big business today. Gone are the days when you saved all those five paise coins to give to the beggars sitting outside the Church after Sunday Mass. Today there are no beggars in the city. Instead we have a business called begging.
Like most businesses, this too is an organized trade, with careful strategizing and marketing to the target audience for maximum profit. Most of the beggars you see on the road are simple businessmen and women. The wounds you saw on the legs of the young man is carefully done with chemicals and simple surgery! The same with the peeled off arm! If you want to know how to look sick and fool your teachers or bunk school, head to where a “sick” beggar is sitting and he will teach you a thing or two in faking authentic diseases that will leave your Chemistry teacher proud yet a little sick in the stomach.
The beggar lady with the baby you see on the road is not the mother of the baby. The babies are borrowed from construction workers, drugged and carried round in the hot sun and a fraction of the pickings from this heartless activity is shared with the mother. The baby is handed over to the mother after the “business day” is over. When the baby is too old to be carried around, he/she is discarded for another small baby to be drugged and carried around in the hot sun amidst vehicle fumes for close to twelve hours a day! Can you imagine the amount of drugs that is needed to keep that baby asleep for 12 hours?
When you put that coin into the “poor” lady’s hand you are arming her to carry on the abuse and toxify and pickle the baby forever. The real beggar in this story is the mother of the child and our concern must be with her than the lady who walks the roads in torn clothes looking pitiably at you. Try and give that lady a piece of bread and see the reaction! She will possibly walk away glowering …because she can afford to eat better!!!
Most beggars are quite well off. Yet they live in squalor as it is part of their profession. It is their very existence! And they will do nothing to threaten it. They are not interested in homes and hearths. All they are interested in is the money. Most of them are money lenders, some have land back home that they support, but everyone of them carry on the profession just like any dedicated workers in a regular job!
Real beggars have no place in the scheme of things on the road unless they are willing to follow the rules and regulations of the road! By rules and regulations, I mean, give a part of the pickings to the local area goon and some other pacts that only they know of! And when the money is good (beggars earn close to Rs 3000/- a day), why fight the system?
Remember that ad that says “When you give alms to a beggar you condemn him to begging for life”? Nothing can so succinctly summarize the situation as that simple sentence!
It took me some time, but no amount of pitiable looks will move me now! I’d rather give the money to the NGO that works towards educating children of construction workers!
Information above gathered from talks with a friend who worked in an NGO that tried to rehabilitate beggars only to learn that it was foolish to tell a person to leave his well paying job for a lower paying job!