With over 400 million people still living below the poverty line in India – a figure that is more than America’s population – beggary is ironically and cryingly turning out to be a sickeningly ubiquitous profession.
Although the Bombay Beggary Act of 1959, as well as a recent Delhi High Court’s judgment, prohibit beggary, beggars remain as omnipresent in cities, as perhaps the traffic junctions, bus stops and railway stations. It must be recalled here that hilariously, under law, even the alms-giver has to part with Rs. 100 for the ‘offence’. One doesn’t even need to wonder why this pathetic rule has not worked.
Though improper enforcement – or rather, no enforcement – by the authorities has added to this cultural malaise within people of giving alms, the fact remains that till the time a composite employment setup is created as an alternative for the destitute beggars, no end would ever come to this problem. There have been several communities in India (Sikhs for example), which have not witnessed beggars on a scale India does, the reason for which remains simple, that is, the community helps and aids the unemployed in creating their own work avenues, rather than providing alms. The saying’s cliched, but works marvelously, “Rather than giving a fish to eat, teach the man to fish...” Makes sense?