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A ‘Begging’ Issue

Begging in India

Mumbai is known for many things, one being, home to the biggest slum in Asia.  Beggars are a daily sight in Mumbai, be it at the bus stand, at the temple doorsteps (that’s their favorite spot), railway stations, traffic signals and so on. Basically, they are a part of Mumbai & Mumbaikars have learnt to deal with it somehow. It’s heartbreaking to see kids begging on the streets so that their families can have a day’s meal. However, there is a difference between asking for alms and forcing someone to shell out a dime!!

Lately, I have noticed a bunch of vagrants on my way home. A mother along with 5 kids, accompanied by one more woman, are a daily sight at the traffic signal. The kids are all aged around 4- 5 years and one is a toddler , merely a year old. Since the traffic signal is near a big shopping mall, this is an ideal spot for them to earn their bread. Especially,during the evenings when the mall is teeming with people. The mother along with the other woman usually rests under a tree ( yea, there is still some green cover left in Mumbai 🙂 ) while the children are always kept on their toes! Every time a rickshaw stops in front of the mall, the alert children harass the passenger for a rupee or two. The kids usually target young girls , college going kids & foreigners since they are an easy target and end up paying instead of shooing them away.

I saw one of the kids pestering a girl for money and when she didn’t yield to his requests he simply asked her for an ice cream and called on his siblings !! The girl literally ran for her life. This tactic works very well at times and the kids end up earning a ten rupee note right away. There was an article in a daily about a leading Bollywood actor being harassed by a beggar on a crowded street in Mumbai. This actor was in his car when all of a sudden a beggar landed in front of his car, yelling and blaming the actor for the so-called ‘accident’. It was later revealed that the beggar was just trying to make some quick money, knowing a fact that people would obviously sympathize with him! How smart!

This has turned into a big nuisance and people end up paying not out of sympathy but due to sheer frustration and irritation. I wonder, why don’t these women  do some house hold chores to earn their livelihood! I can understand if they disabled , but no, they are perfectly alright. Instead of giving the kids their due, they prefer to sit idly and let the kids suffer!! Is it because its easy money or are they plain, lazy?


18 thoughts on “A ‘Begging’ Issue

    1. I agree and we in Mumbai deal with it every time. Its not only the destitute who beg on the streets, I have seen young people who are perfectly able begging at crowded places. I always wonder, why cant this guy work for a living? Mumbai provides unlimited opportunities to survive!

  1. It is a huge problem, here in Pune as well. But, then again, they aren’t given any thing by the society here, even out of pity. I mean, probably they suffer more than what shows. Rehabilitation is a good idea. They should work, yes, but someone should tell them that, and someone should get them started with it!!

    1. Hi Priya,

      I agree . Helping out disabled and old people is quite understandable. But somehow, I have lost sympathy because they employ their own children for such menial tasks while they simply laze around!!

  2. Eye-opening post. I wont be surprised if panhandling becomes national occupation of India.
    panhandling with kids should be punishable by law and some serious action need to be taken by authorities or else this is never gonna end.
    And people should stop throwing pennies instead show your empathy to real deserving ones and orphanages and much more…

    1. Yes, this has become a menace now. More so because these kids harass passersby and force them to part with either money or food. I have seen them hankering around teens who mostly have to part with their popcorn or ice cream !!!

  3. Many a times I have directly asked the kids and the ladies if they are ready to work. But they disappear immediately once you ask this. So basically I have realised that they have taken begging as their profession…

    1. And why not!! All they have to do is carry a toddler along with them and they know very well whom to target. College kids just shell out whatever they can to get rid of them. So they are used to this kind of living.

  4. in india and paki alike..i went for vacation to pakistan and the beggers wouldnt leave us alone! the worst were the not so straight men who would give duas out to you wen you stop at a red light!

  5. Beggars are a universal problem. Even in New York CIty, I get to see beggars everyday in the subway trains. Its the same story everywhere.
    Some people just dont want to work to make a living.

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