Is begging a money minting profession? While many of us might vehemently deny, interesting facts that are put forth on a leading website prove us wrong. After having read about the richness that begging can help amass, I cannot help but mock at some of the new age parents out there, who are obstinate on imposing a set of career choices on their children, while depriving them of their dreams and ambitions. Had these parents been given a chance to have a close look at the wealth that some of the richest beggars in our country have amassed, I am sure they would have re-erected their mind-set on the viable jobs that their children must pursue, and look beyond medical and engineering fields. This unconventional path has helped some of the pioneer beggars out there amass enviable amount of cash, thus giving our elite IITians and IIM grads a run for their money.
One among the forty plus entrepreneurial ‘mendicant’ has begged his way to owning two luxury apartments in a leading metro, each worth about 70 to 80 lakhs, apart from earning about 75 to 80 thousand rupees from open-minded alms givers, which means he effortlessly earns much more than the average salary of the highest government official in his state. Shocking me further, the article about him also read that he owns several other businesses that are successfully run by his family members. While a major part of the nation showers pity and offerings on the supposedly small-time beggars who skilfully narrate their woes, the actuality is far from what’s being projected. While the fruits of labour of many such beggars help them earn humongous money from some of the busy traffic intersections that we pass by, most of us knowingly and unknowingly contribute intensely to promoting this deceitful occupation, making it the most profitable way of earning a living in our country. Many of us are in fact guilty of giving away a whooping amount of money as alms to the undeserved and unworthy, only to boast about our willingness to help the poor and needy. This makes me want to share a personal experience which almost took away my kindness and compassion for mendicants. After giving alms generously to a physically disabled old man whom I used to find in our bus stand, I was shocked one fine day, upon realizing that he was in fact blowing the entire money on booze each day. As he came to me the next day with his usual antics, I shouted and shooed him away in anger.
Irrespective of a stream of advancements and developments that we are living amongst, begging has sky-rocketed to becoming a thriving business in our country because we are emotionally too vulnerable to believing the phony stories of woes and predicaments that are brilliantly crafted by devious beggars who are well aware of making wise use of our sympathy and love for the deprived. While giving away substantial amount of money with the hope of bringing in a change in the life of an underprivileged person, many of us deliberately forget the fact that begging is in fact a 200 crore industry in our country. While adult mendicants flock in abundance to earn a living by begging on busy streets and railway stations, what makes me feel sick to the stomach is the cruellest exploitation that child beggars face. Rag clad and sometimes unclothed children who keep pounding on the windows of cars and other vehicles, or sifting through garbage in the hope of finding a few morsels of food are common sights in our country. But what often goes unnoticed is the terror in the glares of these helpless children. While most of us continue to believe that these little ones slog away each day holding the burden of their family on their frail shoulders, the reality is far horrific from what we get to get to see, as most of them are often horrifically exploited by adult beggars who are well aware of the fact that children can mint more money than adults. While the major share of the money earned goes to the adult gang leaders, children are given mere pennies that are hardly sufficient for their daily meals. Beggar syndicates often abduct, and disfigure children and deliberately leave them starved for days together, before making them beg on the streets, often accompanied by women who pose as their mothers.
As the rich affluent in our country continue to make their way towards greater magnitudes of richness, innumerable breeds of ‘professional’ beggars are toiling hard to give their elite counterparts the toughest competition in terms of monthly earnings. While the sight of these deprived looking mendicants sitting down on dirt filled pavements and roads might falsely echo countless stories of poverty and distress, behind the misguiding pretexts, begging is actually ‘passionate and dedicated’ ‘profession’ for each one of them, With several years of panhandling on various streets of our cities, many of them secretly accumulate enviable fortunes and become millionaires, and yet continue to dupe us with torn clothes and poverty-stricken looks that are often achieved with skilful makeups that can easily con the philanthropists amongst us.
While getting tricked into believing that all the shabbily dressed mendicants belong to the underprivileged and unfortunate class of our society, we are unknowingly depriving the dark underbelly of the society by giving away their share of benefits to the tricksters who appear in the guise of ill-fated panhandlers. A ban on begging is hardly an apt solution to deal with conning of begging mafia. Instead, we need more emphatic and rigid rules, apart from vigilant authorities that keep a check on the increasingly sprouting begging mafia in our country. But sadly we are neither watchful about this snowballing disgrace, nor keen on curbing rogues from duping us in the disguise of poverty.
The next time when you generously help an adult beggar, remember that he might be wealthier than you!