Whilst working in India for HSBC, we travelled in the hotels car to and fro. This was when I experienced and witnessed the begging.
It shocked me and the drivers told us to ignore it. Easier said than done. Whenever we stopped at traffic lights, they would tap on the windows.
The worst image I had was a woman holding a baby which had one arm and leg missing. I was mortified!!!!
- why was a baby missing its limbs?
- why was the baby not clothed and near naked?
- why would a mother use their child in this way?
After talking to others and the colleagues we were training, I was told that
- they are purposely mutilated for begging
- no clothes to show off the mutilation
- it was not their mother as the child was probably sold to begging gangs to raise money for the family
OMG! What a fucked up world we live in!
I was told on NO occasion was I to hand any money over to a beggar. To pass over any tips to the people who worked to get themselves and their families out of severe poverty. Such as the drivers taking us to work, the staff working in the restaurants, the staff in hotels etc.
Over the course of my 8 week assignment I saved ally loose change and at the end of my work I handed over the money to my regular driver.
I can’t remember how much it was and I didn’t miss the change but he was crying and hugging me and I was amazed at his response but now I know I handed over the equivalent of 2 MONTHS WAGES!!!!!!
I am glad I made a difference to someone’s life and I will always remember that moment. I have a picture of us together which I will treasure :0)
This was an account by Natalie Brownell (South Yorkshire, UK).
Dr Archana Shared a similar story with WakeIndiaNow.
I have had this dilemma for years now. I come across beggars in a train, in market, outside temple, outside workplace and everywhere. I have been conditioned to ignore them.
I came across this beggar while traveling through Mumbai local. It would have been a business as usual for me. But that day, I cared to observe that lady very keenly. One of her limbs missing, infection on legs, bones peeping out of her pale skin. I was moved to pity and gave Rs 10 to the beggar and detrained as my stop arrived.
On platform, I again noticed the same beggar. I saw a man approaching the beggar. I presumed that he was generous man intending to help the lady. There was something about the way that man charged towards lady that I stopped and watched on. That man came to lady, emptied the entire bowl of the lady into a bag he was carrying and went away.
He was not a beggar,he was well-off. So could not have been her relative. It was then that I was enlightened. It was a beggar-mafia. That lady was planted by him. He collects whatever that lady gets. Same is true for other beggars in the city.
If you give away money to a beggar, you help thrive this murky business. It’s not charity, it is anti-human. You are responsible for abduction of that small kid, whose limbs were mutilated. You are responsible for the human trafficking. You are party to the torture of that old lady who begs on streets when she should be in a hospital.
So what do we do?
Ignore beggars, reprimand them, intimidate them, shoo them away!!!
Don’t give them money. That money never stays with them. Instead help them get a meal. If you are in a restaurant, sponsor their dinner. If you are in train, buy them something that they may use. If you are in school, educate them.
These two stories clearly answer the question we started with-What is the correct way to respond to begging in India?
If you still don’t know what to do when you encounter a beggar next, you should atleast know what not to do.
Its NOW or NEVER!!