Rich Beggars

Yes. The title sounds really harsh.

Today, while I was travelling the BMTC (Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation)  bus towards Shivaji Nagar, I found a very peculiar thing. I was lucky enough to get a seat in the midway of the journey. Well, that is a rare occurrence though. While the bus stopped in traffic, I glanced out of my window only to find two beggars (one male and a female) sitting together. The female beggar was counting  five hundred notes and later handed it over to the male beggar. Then the male beggar counted them, and I followed with him. There were six five hundred notes. He slid at those notes suddenly into his pant pocket. And later held his plate on and started acting like he was blind. The man passing by (thinking the beggar was blind) threw few coins  on his plate and moved on. I was aghast.

When I turned my head towards the rear of the window, the person sitting beside me said, “They just need to work for 2-3 hours and they earn in thousands.” He continued, “Even when we work all day long, we can’t earn the way they do.” Did  he mean business? Is begging a profession? Is begging legitimate? Well, Indian law says No.

Begging is one such activity that is quite a lot prevalent in every other street of Bangalore, from traffic signals to pathways to temple lanes to college entrances. While the thought of rich beggars occurred to me when my political science teacher in my school days was talking about poverty. He said, “In India, owning a car is a luxury. But, in US, even a beggar has a car.”

When I surfed in my google about ‘Rich Beggars’, I found really interesting facts about begging. One of the blogs had mentioned the names of rich beggars in India. Bharat Jain, 49, a beggar in Mumbai, is said to be the richest beggar in India. he owns two flats valued at around 70 Lakhs of Rupees. Another man named Krishna Kumar Gite owns a flat worth Rs 5 Lakhs. One of the beggars travels in cabs and autos to the begging spot. There are quite a lot such people. While I go to Cox Town, at a particular spot, I find a lady begging at the signal every other five minutes. She goes to around for begging, every five minutes. And now I wonder how much they actually earn.

In Picture: Krishna Kumar Gite begging on the streets of Mumbai

There are jurisdictions of many of these beggars. Every other beggar has a begging spot and they sit there to beg and usually the new ones are discouraged. While I was explaining this to one of my friends, I said: “If a firm has a certain amount of consumers at a certain place and at a point of time, and if another firm ventures in the same region, then the firm one will lose on its profit.” Children are another victims of the begging business. Many of the traffickers use children to earn money by threatening them to beg on the streets.

It is always harsh to generalize anything. I also agree that there are genuine beggars, who are begging to meet their ends, to earn two meals a day. It is no secret that begging has become a profession for certain set of people. Can we do anything about it?