‘We need to Make Mangaluru a Beggar-free City’-DC Ibrahim. Well Said, But When, Sir?

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Mangaluru: This seems like a “We don’t practice what we say” kind of story. “We need to make Mangaluru a Beggar-Free City”-DC Ibrahim, was a report carried in our website on Sept 25, 2014 reported by Violet Pereira of Team Mangalorean, where to bring control over the increasing number of beggars in the district, Deputy Commissioner A B Ibrahim had held a press meet with all the NGO’s at the DC’s court hall. Six months have passed since DC had promised to eradicate beggary, but it looks like beggars are increasing day by day in Mangaluru, and many are getting into fights/alcoholism etc etc. and creating a havoc and inconveniences to the public. Through this report I want to bring to the attention of DC and other concerned authorities to do a follow up om what was discussed during the Sept 25 meeting, and see into the growing menace of beggars in the City.

File Photo : DC Ibrahim addressing the beggar menace issue during a Sept 25, 2014 meeting at his office

Recalling the proceedings of that meeting, DC Ibrahim had said that, beggars have increased in the city and people are facing problems, beggars are troubling the citizens and we need to stop this. And that Mangaluru has the lowest population growth in the country. Beggars come from other districts and states. Dc also assured of issuing a notice to register all the NGO’s in the District Social Welfare Department and whenever beggars are brought to the centre, the DSWD will accept them at the centre in Pacchanadi.

DC Ibrahim had also advised the DSWD officer to appoint doctors on contract or regular basis. Conduct continuous awareness drive. In the temples, Mosques and Churches the Muzrai department should not allow beggars to beg. To make Mangalore as beggar-free city, we need the support from all the NGOs and various Institutions, he had stressed. But as of today no progress has been done- beggars are seen lying/sleeping on the footpath/shop entrances/bus-stands, temples/mosques/churches etc, some fallen drunk in front of wine shops/bars or in gutters. There’s wine shop located in Felix Pai Bazar, off Ganapathi HS Road, where you can see beggars early in the morning (around 7am) sipping on alcohol. It’s indeed sad to see so many beggars in a growing city like Mangaluru, and when tourists/foreigners visit this city they never miss clicking pictures of beggars, and take back memories of Mangaluru having a bad impression on this coastal town. It’s time that the City authorities act quick to eradicate beggars, or provide an alternative for them.

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During that meeting, Founder of Prajna Counselling center, Hilda Rayappan had said that some of the beggars are not physically capable of working. Some have limbs amputated who are unable to get their daily bread, such people should be rehabilitated by the government. The beggars homes should be increased. Some women along with their children are seen begging. She briefed about a woman who came along with her child in search of job from the neighbouring district. When asked she said that her in-laws were harassing her and she came along with her child. She did not get any job, so she decided to beg. Such people should be treated well and we need to handle such situations with care and send them back home by contacting the family members.

She had further said that some times lack of skills will make a person to beg. If they are able to find a job like masonry, sweeping etc, they can earn and support their families. Some times children are forced to beg, if they do not bring a certain amount of money every day they will be often beaten and denied food. She also said that some times the district social welfare officer also refuses to oblige the beggars saying that a letter from the police is needed. So, what are we waiting for- can’t the city administration wake up and do something about this beggars menace.

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In response to our report, a few worthy comments were posted on our website comments section- to name a few :Thomas D’Souza from USA wrote- “Begging must be barred by law, and laws must be set in force and implemented to stop this social nuisance. People in real need of social care or money can always get help from so many charitable institutions and churches whose aim is to help the poor and the needy. Ladies are No.1 beggars, and they employ children to beg too at Bus stands, etc. In Udupi, there is a big syndicate operating as beggars. One can see on the K,M Marg Udupi and near Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, ladies with tiny infants tied to their waist going after people asking for money. Other beggars are those that are totally crippled – who are actually dropped off at a particular junction close to malls and supermarkets. The above two cases are organized begging. One will never be alleviate their poverty nor their misery – this is their profession – Easy Money. The people in authority should be after these beggars 365 days to truly eliminate this trend, that would be a blessing”.

Joe D’Souza, a regular fan of Mangalorean.com from the city commented, ” Mr Ibrahim, please kindly note that you are suggesting all these things with good intention for betterment of Mangalore and its’ Citizens. Sad part is that whoever is suppose to do these things are not doing, and do not care either. City Planning is one example. Health dept is another. Engineering is third one.”. Sujith commented , “Beggars are not who are begging on the road… they are sometimes far better than some people in the administration… they are worst then beggars at time and they will work double strength when u declare of clearing of files on sat and sun with double pay and take a comp off … on week day “. Nanac Shetty Kinnigoly had his point, ” Beggars sitting inside the Govt offices are dangerous than the harmless ones begging on the streets”.

During the last couple of months, we reported in our website 2-3 deaths of beggars/homeless people on the city footpaths. These people were ignored and left to die a human-less way. Yes it is sad when people die. Death of poor people in India, and for that matter, Mangaluru, gets buried under gross statistics. Hunger of poor people gets lost in public debates by well fed Indians. Discussions over food security bill make a sad reading. Passed, in whatever form, it is likely to get buried under the dreary deserts of our public administration. Why? Are our administrators by their very nature, callous, heartless thieves? Incapable, incompetent idiots?

Can any one of you say boldly that there are no beggars in Mangaluru? It is our hoary tradition that every holy place (of all religions in India) is full of beggars. People give alms and feel relieved that they have done some punya. No body needs to be hungry. Hundreds of poor in the local areas can live on it for days together. But most other places, it is different. Let us also look at the root causes of begging.

A part from a tradition that does not look at it as demeaning, there is a large number of poor Indians. The vagaries of the weather makes them lose them meager incomes. (Shame to the Indian economists, scientists, technologists, policy makers and administrators who run the country, and there are workable solution needing no new research and are being implemented by many countries). Also serious health problems to an earning member of poor family can knock them out of even subsistence levels. Of course, there are some who have made begging a profession.

One crucial governance issue before the nation is to create opportunities for productive employment and income generation for the millions of poor and also preparing them in advance with necessary skills. This has to be a continual process. Are we ready? Especially the now powerful and vocal middle class? Or should we be inventing or discovering a Satan every week for national flogging through media?

In conclusion, all I can say is that Beggary has become a regular feature in Mangaluru. We see beggars at bus stands, railway platforms, hospitals, markets and traffic lights. They can be seen at other places also. Even healthy people are seen begging. Small children are also pushed into beggary. Beggary has become a profession and even able-bodied persons do not want to earn their bread by doing manual work. Many beggars are professional pick-pockets and thieves. Many incidents of chain-snatching and purse-lifting are reported at traffic lights. The authorities should seriously consider this menace and steps should be taken to put a complete ban on beggary in Mangaluru. My earnest request to DC AB Ibrahim and other concerned authorities to look into this beggar menace in the City very seriously, and come up with a plan to make “Mangaluru a Beggar-Free City” as assured by the DC six months ago?

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