Of the various problems which our country faces today, the problem of begging is one of the most acute ones. It is true that ours is a country of saints, sages an sadhus; yet the problem of beggars as it exists in our society today, is a matter of great shame for everyone. It has assumed wide dimensions. It is estimated that there are about forty lakh beggars in India. Indeed, begging has become a profession. It is carried on as an art.
Everyone of us has seen numerous kinds of beggars. Some are blind, lame or crippled, and so take to begging. Some people, who have lost their homes, become beggars. Child and orphan beggars also are very common. There are people ho are physically sound but who undertake begging as their profession, for it enables them to earn their living easily. Some give up their family life. When they become old they are known as Sadhus. The kids of beggars are numerous. Their methods of begging are equally varied and strange.
The causes of begging are many. First of all, some people are physically incapable of doing any work. The only way of getting food open to them is begging. Such beggars easily win the sympathy of others. They deserve it also. But the number of such leprous, blind, or otherwise invalid beggars is not very great as compared to other kinds of beggars.
Secondly, some people take to begging due to religious sanction. In Hindus as well as in Muslims, some religious teachers encourage people to become beggars. Many a criminal finds refuge in the guise of such religious ‘Sadhus and ‘Fakirs’. It is indeed very difficult to distinguish between the genuine religious sadhus and the non-genuine ones.
Thirdly, there are organization which train children in the art of begging. Orphans and kidnapped children are engaged in this profession form early childhood. After a time, they become experts. This type of begging is indeed very harmful. It must be checked without any delay.
Fourthly, some criminals when they come back from jails are not treated sympathetically by society. They are not given any chance to begin their life afresh. They become beggars and find shelter in this profession.
Finally, when some people see the trade of begging flourishing and beggars earning their livelihood in a very easy way, they enter the profession. Such beggars are on the increase. We must safeguard our society against them.
The problem of begging is a knotty one. We will have to fight it from all sides. First of all, public opinion must be created aginst it. Indiscriminate alms-giving ins neither good for the giver, nor for the receiver. Instead, it creates a number of social evils. Only those who are crippled, helpless or homeless should be given alms.
Further, the Government should start its own institutions, where widows, orphans, and other helpless people may find shelter. This will prevent them from joining the profession. The Government should also pass laws, which should make begging by persons below a certain age a crime. Many people with sound health and in their prime become beggars. The law should prevent such people from begging. These are some of the important suggestions which, if implemented, will got a long way towards solving this problem.
Though the problem of begging is gigantic, yet it can easily be solved, if there is will and determination to do so. By creating healthy public opinion against it and by passing laws which make this profession a punishable offence, the problem can be solved within no time.