Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Beggars can’t be choosers

Some incidences during last few days

1. Although I don’t advocate giving alms to beggars and I generally don’t give unless the person asking for is very old or handicapped. Other day while travelling near a traffic signal a very cute little girl knocked at my car window and in her very sweet voice asked me for money. I had a one Rupee coin in my hand which I gave her. To my surprise she refused to take that saying “ kum se kum 2 rupees to do. Mein ek rupee nahi leti”

2. While travelling in a local train I came across again a small child crying and begging. Can anyone believe what she was begging for not money but A Chocolate? I felt every emotional by seeing her. I offered her money but she wanted only chocolate reason being ,” paise to meri maa le legi, mereko to chocolate he khani hai”

3. One of my friends has a similar experience. She was travelling in an auto rickshaw and at a traffic signal some eunuchs asked her for money which she refused to give. Seeing this they started abusing her which made her very scared and she took out a 2 Rs coin from her purse. She was stunned when they threw the money on her face saying ,” Humko bhikari samjha hai. Kum se kum 5 rupees de”

4. In another incidence the person refused to take 2 rupees saying , “ 2 rupees mein kya aata hai, kum se kum ek pav vade ka paisa ya ek cup chai ka paise to do”

5. Yesterday a young lady stopped me on the road and asked me to give her money to buy ration for herfamily. I told her, “You come to my house and clean my utensils. I will give you money, or if you want I can keep you on to clean my utensils regularly”. She just refused saying, “ paise dena ho to do, kaam nahi maanga hai”. i told her that I am giving her respectable job, and she will not have to beg. but she replied, " jab aaram se mil jaata hai to kaam kyun karne ka"

The beggars infact have become choosy in what they want and how much they want.

Moreover they are happy to get this easy money which many so called kind hearted philanthropists give thinking that they are doing some noble deed, some punya ka kaam and they will surely get a place in swarg( heaven )for their kind deeds.

Some so called social workers and their organizations take pride in distributing food items, blankets, money etc to these people without realizing that they are in fact making them dependent, lethargic who think that it is very easy to squeeze money out of kind hearted people by playing on their emotions.

It is a very common sight to find people asking for money to perform last rites of their relatives who is lying dead on the roadside (really??) and if you offer them some material goods they just refuse. They want only money.

All these incidences prove one thing that the famous saying THAT BEGGARS CAN NOT BE CHOOSERS is false. Under the present circumstances it doesn’t hold true these days. BEGGERS ARE CHOOSERS AND THEY TAKE ONLY WHAT THEY WANT.


Neha said...

this is very common on mumbai streets...you come across so many such beggars...they purposely keep touching and poking you with their dirty hands so that u give them money, they keep touching ur feet, they insult and abuse you when you dont pay them...I have stoped giving them money long back...it is better to donate money to registered NGOs, at least you know it is going to right people...

AnjuGandhi said...

Neha you are right
it is better to give to egistered NGOs
although at times these NGOs get so much that they don't know what to do with it
i had a very satisfying experience with one of them
i had gone to one of sneh sadans in mumbai and saw a small child wearing a very bright shirt
somwhow that shirt looked very familiar.
suddnely i noticed a defect in that shirt and i realised that the shirt belonged to my son wich i had given long time back to headoffice of sneh sadan. i recognised that shirt because of the defect
i was very happy to see that things given by me some years back was put to good use

Anonymous said...

Anju, I could not translate the comments at your encounters but I get the meaning. Sad but true. When I was in Belize, I refused to give to a beggar who was very disable, because I found out he was wealthy and had an accomplice. He had a big shiny car parked back off the street and he and his partner, him in a wheelchair, walked to the town main street. I really felt bad until I was told my local connections what he was doing.

The Panorama said...

I was almost laughing when I read this. I have also come across people who ,upon getting 1 rupee say it is not enough. Yet I do understand, ek rupai me kya ata hai aaj kal? And why shouldn't the poor demand something of a society that has ensured they stay where they are for generations?
I feel one should address the real issue here: poverty that forces people to beg. And actually, I understand why the woman didn't want to be a maid. I see how the maids are treated and paid a pittance.

I think the important thing is not to judge the poor.
There are huge socio -economics factors into play when a person turns into a beggar. By saying simply that they should take a job and get out of it is not so simple.
But that is the way I think:)
Good post , Anju ;)

Butler and Bagman said...

I have no experience with begging in India but I remember with amazement watching the beggars at Vatican City in Rome. Being in proximity to the Pope apparently made the area a kind of world-class begging championship. I promise I am not trying to sound unsympathtic and I understand the plight and need for some people to beg and depending on the situation, I often give what I can. But there is also a certain professionalism in any occupation. I have no doubt the Vatican beggars were truly needy. But, unfortunately, they had to compete with their peers and around the Vatican being competative required major disfiguration or deformity. Watching over a few days, I also saw that, while pitiful to those of us with pity in our hearts, they were very aggressive and territorial with each other over location.

Anonymous said...

If I feel really bad, I make the child (only children) eat infront of me, like banana at traffic lights, nor Glucose biscuits (I keep in car)... sometimes I have caught the child, and made him or her eat samosa chaat etc infront of me. There is a chance that if we give cash they might spend it on cigarettes or gutka :(

Once an old women pleaded for money for medicine, my husband said she is acting, I didn't think so, so I told her I'd come with her to the medical store, guess what? She threw a fit, saying I was wrong not to trust her! She walked away in a huff!

Shruti SriHarsha said...

oh my GOD!! Am quite shocked to see such Beggars....
I know beggars who curse here, if you do not pay them anything and I used to just Ignore them. Only if I see a child begging, I feel bad and end up paying something....Once I even got boy who came hungry a plate of Idly...

But such comments from them is just not done....

Anju...Thanks for your comments..you are so right about the husband's house thing...thats why u see, I mentioned as Second home thought this will always be the place I lived all my 26 yrs...Last 2days am feeling so different and am yet to come out of the Mixed feel...

RoyalTLady said...


You have interesting posts which are hard to refuse comments. I have one male beggar, pretty young probably late thirtees, healthy looking, smartly dressed, not totally blind, daily he sits by the steps at the wet maarket...

Once he told me, he owns three flats and they are all bought from money he begged. Wonderful!

Often when I met an old beggar, I would offer food if I were in a restaurant. Now there much less beggars around because the NGOs and government agencies take care of them.

Anonymous said...

very true!! i have once written a post abt how a bunch of beggar kids..whom i normally see in th morning beggng in the street came to an ice-cream parlor with a 500rs note!!! ever since then ive never givn alms to children..i dnt want thm to grow up learning the easy way..there are instances whn they have started beatng me for not giving!!!

Deepa said...

Good post. It is difficult to take a definite stand on begging. I hear it is a 100 crore industry in Mumbai. I had read an article years ago about how orphaned children / kidnapped children are maimed and turned into beggars. Apparently there is this butcher in Ulhasnagar who specialises in limb amputation. It is horrifying.

When you say begging, I remember two films. One is the celebrated Slumdog Millionaire which show the maiming of children. And the other is Traffic Signal which shows (with some amount of humour) how begging is a LIVELIHOOD!

Of course, when one is faced with a beggar, its very in your face. I find people give money for various reasons - which keep changing. For instance, if you're coming or going to a place of worship, one tends to give money to beggars. Like saying 'Hey God...check me out. I'm a do- gooder!' At traffic signals, we may give money just to get them out of your way. And some people give money because something about the beggar touches a chord in you. Take my sister for example. If a woman with a baby is begging, she will invariably give money - since she's a mother with a young child herself.

I rarely succumb to the calls of beggars. But I do have a sense of empathy - I understand the push factors which lead them into begging since I'm associated with NGOs and the world of social work.

BK Chowla said...

It is very common.Inflation has been quite effective.
Yes I must tell you one.Once a beggar was given a Rs 2 coin at the Mehrauli signal.Hold it,this one refused to accept the money saying....main bhikari se bhik nahin leta.

AnjuGandhi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AnjuGandhi said...

QMM, sorry this time I just forgot to translate the Hindi text in English. I just meant that the beggars refused to take one rupee as they want more than that
Panorama the economic reasons are the main cause of begging and for that the whole economic structure of the society will have to be changed and that is like dreaming and wishing for impossible
Regarding the job of maid or a servant, atleast it is better than begging but this requires hard work and some discipline whereas they are used to easy money ( although begging is also not easy. They have to run after each vehicle, go to so many people ;-) )
B and B you are right, begging also involves professionalism. Rather it is a full fledged profession. Areas are marked for each beggar and no stranger can encroach on others domain. For that matter permission of big bosses of this profession has to be taken before they start this business of begging. And depending on the income generating capacity of the area , commission has to be given by the persons begging to the area in charge.
IHM even I offered to buy lunch for some one as he was asking money to buy food. But he refused the offer of food, he wanted only cash.
Most of the time the money given to the children is either spent on buying gutka or their bosses take this amount and give mere peanuts to the children. ( we saw this in slumdog millionaire)
Shruti talking about curses when my daughter’s SSC results were awaited, on the very day some eunuchs came to our house and asked for money and when I refused they not only abused us but started chanting some mantras. We got so scared that we immediately gave them 100 Rs lest their curses and mantras bring ill luck to us. ;-) such is the power of their behavior.

RoyalT lady it had come in Bombay newspapers last year that one of the beggars has 3-4 flats which he has given on rent and he himself lives on the pavements near the traffic signal and he also had fat bank balance.
Verbivorehere very true . at times they throw the money given to them on our face if it doesn’t meet their expectations.
Deepa we Indians are so emotional that any one can play with us and then the concepts of Punya and swarg etc are always in our mind which forces us to do these actc
BK Chowla Sometimes I really wonder that may be one of these days one of them will come and tell us that if you cant give us more than 5 rupees then come along with us and join our profession.

Ooglers Googlers said...

Think from a different perspective. what is wrong in begging and demanding specially as KIDS? I mean, the unfortunate kids who have been forced to be in this scenario/profession, have no choice other than to continue begging and ask for more. I agree that they should not curse/abuse, but they too are forced to do this given the environment we live in.

It's a very common alarming problem to which I don't really see a solution. No matter how much NGO's invest their time and effort in cleaning up the mess, the politicians and anti social elements in the country will not let this happen.

Nice observation though.

Ms. Neha Gandhi said...

hhaha...this is soo very true...
these beggars have bank accounts which flourish by the act of begging..i once read an article..where on a good day a beggar earns more than construction workers...

Apanatva said...

समय बदल रहा है |
आज के माहौल मे कई पुरानी कहावते कोई मायने नहीं रखती है | फिर एक अच्छी पोस्ट |

Gayathri said...

HAHAHA..so so very true..always happens here too..You give 1re,they ask for 2..you give 2re,they ask for a torn dress..you give the torn dress,they ask for something better!!

Durga Nandan said...

Amma always gives them your point number 5.
But never has one accepted it.
Haughty and lazy idiots!
It has become their rights now. Humph!

Mustaf said...

Your observations are correct, but I would like to differ at some of the conclusions you have made.

If a NGO is not very well known, i would rather spend my money on those beggers than those NGO, how do we ensure that the NGOs are spending money in the right area?

And i am not sure whether beggers have hefty bank balance, as we know in most cases beggers are a big source of income for other people, who make them beg and extract their share of money.So, it could be highly possible the more he begs, his/her own share at the end of the day will be bigger, so this is not something they do by themselves (in most cases) rather, they are forced

And abt their habit of asking more or refusing to take lesser than they wanted, i would say situation makes them like this. The environment has a big influence on human character, if we think ourselves staying in those rotten slums, begging whole day in the streets, i dont know how much ethics/values we can carry with us..

Roshmi Sinha said...

I too have come across such incidents. Infact... I have seen beggars snatching ice creams, cold drinks and other eatables right from the hands of people... in super markets e.g., Food World. Very shocking, indeed! No wonder... we are living in the 'Kali Yug'.

There is a need to control 'this' population else crime and other anti social activities... will spiral out of control.

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