Street Begging

Rushing through my daily routine in a pleasant early Mangalore morning, moving automatically with the crowd that comes my way, piercing through the traffic stops, brushing aside my fellow commuter, wading through the population, in a jungle where the term "BUSY" is the mantra for giving an excuse, I find this particular man and many like him who always seem to be at ease. His name is Mutthana (name changed), and is a beggar by profession, stranded on the streets, sleeping in the bus stops, wearing torn clothes, loitering in public places, wandering at the entrance of the shops, he neither forces nor loots; neither does he work, he just begs with pleading eyes.

People often see Muthana and his fellows with a sight of concern, however, they hesitate to help them since a penny of alms attracts ten of them and it grabs an unnecessary attention to the lender. Most of the people don’t even bother to look at them, but these beggars look at every face expecting something. In Mangalore like elsewhere, beggars live in most  poor conditions in some of the most dreaded slums; some of them even spending their lives on the footpaths or road and railway stations, days and nights without shelter.

People like Mutthana are basically from the agricultural background, but since there is a lack of adequate infrastructure to support agriculture, coupled with the problems like illiteracy, unemployment and meager income, these people migrate to other cities in search of a better life, while on an average the margin income of a person in north Karnataka is Rs. 20 a day, a person working as casual labourer earns Rs.150 per day in cities like Mangalore. While some take up any skilled or unskilled jobs, others resort to begging for sustenance, but later they make it their way of life.

""…Such kind of practice is not only inhuman but also hazardous to the lives of those small infants ""

However, today it is not only a nuisance but also a dangerous profession. Small kids come running to beg at busy traffic stops; they don’t realise that they not only risk their lives but also risk the life of the motorists who may either have to immediately stop the vehicle or divert it while avoiding hitting them. There are also some physically handicapped beggars who lack mobility, sight etc, while some of them also carry some epidemic diseases with them; others have some exposed wound which needs immediate attention. Some women are also seen holding kids as small as four to five months old while begging on the roads, to emotionally touch the passersby. Such kind of practice is not only inhuman but also hazardous to the lives of those small infants who are prone to the toxic waste and other chemical wastes emitted by the vehicles etc. Once they are grown up even they will be encouraged to beg.

The best way to tackle this menace is by passing legislation that brands begging as an inhuman profession once and for all. As a responsible citizen of the society, the best possible thing for us to do is to discourage these elements by ignoring them and asking the authorities concerned to provide shelters for the physically and mentally disabled people where they are assisted to carry on their daily routine. As for other able bodied people who involve in begging, rehabilitation centers must be set up where they are taught some kind of skilled or unskilled work that will help them in their life.

Harsh Raj is a second year BA Student at St Aloysius College, Mangalore.

Author: Harsh Raj- Mangalore