There is a saying that “Beggars can’t be choosers” meaning that “You should not complain what you get as you don’t have any other option”.
But this quote probably is not valid for the beggars in India. If you give the very small denomination of the rupee to them, they won’t accept it and they will give a look at you as if you were in their position.
Some will give back the money to you. Even though many of the beggars are healthy, they won’t stop begging as they are getting used to it. You should never encourage or give money to these kind of beggars.
A typical beggar in India will look like the one with uncombed hair for years,unclean body,badly torn shirt and dhoti and a pathetic look in the face. But you will be surprised to know that they will definitely have a mobile. They may even have a bank account.
You can see beggars mostly in Railway stations,entrance of temples and all popular tourist destinations.If you are a foreigner then they will definitely approach you and ask money as they can easily differentiate between a local person and a foreigner. So you cannot avoid that because of the difference in the physical appearance.
But you should take many precautionary measures to avoid the beggars because many crimes involve the beggars.
The beggars always works in gangs and they have a leader. They keep only a portion of the money with them and give the remaining to their leader. You may have heard about or seen the movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.It shows how small children are how trained cruelly in the begging activities.Most of the beggars are not real and they may be involved in illegal activities like drugs,smuggling etc.
Don’t show money in front of beggars
Don’t take money from your wallet near the beggar as it will definitely invite them to approach you or even you may be robbed off.Who knows, the beggar may be a thief also.So keep an eye on the surroundings before taking the money.
Don’t wear costly jewelry
Avoid wearing any costly jewelry as it will make them think you are rich and approach you Most beggars can guess from the appearance itself whether they have money or not. Try to look as simple as possible while walking near beggars.
Avoid eye contact
If you happen to see a beggar well in before, try to avoid direct eye contact with them as possible. Your eyes and face may show sympathy if you come across a poor child with hunger in the eyes, a physically handicapped person, woman with an infant child or even pregnant women. If you start giving money for one person, you may find more than 10 people near you in 10 minutes because these beggars always operate in groups. So just pass them without seeing them.
Don’t stop.Keep walking
Don’t stop at any cost near the beggars because that will give time for them to invite people and if you are surrounded by people like a ring,it will be difficult to escape from them and you need to give money without any other option.Either walk silently without seeing them or walk saying a firm ‘No’ or waving your head or hand.
If you really want to give something to the beggars, then give food item you have. Give that and walk away fast.Only a real beggar who wants food will accept this.Others won’t accept that as they are not real beggars.
Mothers with infants
If you come across a mother with a infant asking you milk for the baby, don’t buy them. What they do is sell the milk from the shop where they bought and even the shop keeper may have some commission from it.If you really want to give, then biscuits or chocolates you have.Also the infant may not be their own child and they might have rented that child for begging.
Do you really want to help beggars?Then there are many NGOs in India involved in this and you can give donation to them. Don’t give money or help a beggar who is healthy as it encourages him to beg without doing any work.
Can you believe this? I have read recently in a magazine that there are more than 7 lakh beggars in India and their annual income is more than crores.So beggars are not really poor.
(This is a guest article. Opinions expressed are not mine – Mani Karthik)