Published on March 18th, 20130
Ignore that begging hand
Jatin Sharma is annoyed by beggars who play on his emotions to make money, instead of looking for honest work.
A long time ago, Mumbai was fortunate to have real beggars, who gave you blessings, who were grateful for your help, who were really laachar and bebas. But not any more. Nowadays, when I look at beggars, I don’t see people I want to help. I see people I want to avoid, run away from because they are so utterly irritating. They desensitise every emotion in me; or maybe it is because I cannot, or don’t want to, feel another man’s pain any more.
I strictly feel that all the
This has nothing to do with me being born in a better family and having more opportunity than other, less fortunate ones. Yes, I agree that these beggars didn’t get a good life like me, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of their lives should continue to be devoid of opportunity. If we continue to feel bad for them, they will continue to be beggars. Our pity is their salary.
Secondly, I have met several beggars in Mumbai and I
In Mumbai, no man who is
They have taken over every
Take the example of the Gateway of India beggars. Most of them, exposed as they are to the constant barrage of foreign tourists thronging the site, can speak English, a smattering of French, and several other languages. They can almost correctly guess the nationalities of the visitors and have designed their begging strategies accordingly – one of which is to allot areas to people fluent in a language spoken by the foreigners most likely to frequent that area. Tell me, for a person clever enough to pick up a formal language without formal training, is it so difficult to use that cleverness in an honest trade and make honest money? Why is such a person still begging?
Begging has now evolved into a fine art. In fact, beggars are so organised and their work so scientifically carried out, I wouldn’t be surprised if a contingent of beggars was not some day invited to lecture B-students about efficiency and marketing themselves.
It’s not begging any more. Little children, unwashed and sometimes physically deformed, come up to you and ask for food. The moment you give them food,
Nobody says much against them, because in India, we are an emotional lot. And we have let this menace of begging get out of hand; we have allowed it to become an organised, well-paying activity that is both demeaning and exploitative. While we have been quick to protest against the evils of drinking or prostitution, we have not been as strict with begging. As a developing country, we should be ashamed that so many of our countrymen are beggars, that so many of our young children are street urchins with no present and not much hope at a future. We hear cases of parents pushing their children out of their homes to beg – what do we do after hearing these stories?
And why would we? At the risk of sounding really harsh, let me say that at some point in all our lives, we have all begged – begged with police officers to forgive our mistakes, begged with teachers to give us grace marks and pass us, begged to be promoted, begged for another chance…begged and begged again. We excel at playing the victim card repeatedly, just to get what we want, and if we have to beg to do it, we will. Heck, we even use the term ‘beg, borrow, steal’ really easily in our normal conversation, sometimes in front of our impressionable children.
What really stops us, a country that supplies a lot of labour and technology to the rest of the world, from taking a stand? Do we lack the spine for it? Do we not have the power to set things right? Is it because we accord emotions the first priority in everything?
Is this what makes us let the beggars be, the politicians continue to scam unabated, let the country run the way it is being run? Or is it because we are too afraid to let new thoughts, however radical or tough, come to life and breathe?
Let your new thoughts take seed and grow. Don’t give out largesse to someone just because he/she makes a sad face and asks for it. Don’t pay these actors on the roads. Avoid. Ignore. And
Jatin Sharma is a media professional who doesn’t want to grow up, because if he grows up, he will be like everybody else.
(Picture courtesy rottenview.blogspot.com)