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Is Begging A Crime?

 
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Is Begging A Crime?

The history of the cold war between the haves and have-nots is as old as that of humankind. Even God is apparently helpless in this regard. Money has become anything and everything. In her famous novel Atlas Shrugged, the Russian born American novelist Ayn Rand articulates, “…Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force…” And she goes on accentuating that money is the reward of one’s effort and is good in itself. Even though she, being deeply influenced by the objectivism of her time, was not very much aware of the magnetic power of money to generate ‘passive money’ (money that needs no efforts) in the second level of abstraction resulting exploitation of the weaker, she rightly comments on the moochers or beggars. As you know, begging has become an exceedingly common seen in this silicon city. What is the feeling that haunts you at such a sight…?

Begging is an act of pleading for livelihood. In the superficial sphere of thought, it is merely beseeching for economical assistance. To put it radically, it is a cry of have-nots to haves. Nevertheless, on the other hand, it implies a physiological and psychological surrender as well. Begging entails the inability of both physique and psyche. If I beg somebody for my living, it means that I am physically unable to feed myself and at the same time I am weedier than the person being begged. Thus it becomes, in its good sense, humiliating myself. In the final analysis, the act of begging is accepting one’s weakness, understanding his effortlessness and seeking others’ help.

Let’s have a glance around us. We could find two types of people almost everywhere. Some try to hide their disabilities and to toil for life, whereas others try to express their disabilities and to get sympathy and help. Of course, we cannot but consider few genuine cases. Yet, in the busy roads of the cities, you can come across a lot of frauds, if you pay due time for it. Unfortunately, Bangalore is cursed with a great number of them. You can find beggars who beat themselves and kids with them, up to extend of bleeding to get sympathized and get alms. This is not only an act of cruelty, but of cheating others as well. It is cheating mainly because such people are potentially able to work for themselves, but actually they don’t do so and pretend to be unable. Recently, an email was being circulated stating few eye-opening facts and photos of the so-called beggars. It was explaining the stories of five people whose jobs were begging. The daily earnings of one guy named Bharat Jain (45) were around 2000 to 2500 with an asset of 70 lakhs (property alone). One Haji (26) has an interesting reply when asked for leaving the ‘profession’ of begging and taking up his family sari business. It goes like, “Managing the zari workshop is too much of hard work. I can't be bothered with all that. I like to be left alone. Also, I make a decent amount every day”.

If money is the reward of my effort and I am devoid of money, it simply means that I put up no efforts. And if I ask for others’ effort without doing of myself, it is a sin of both commission and omission. As we go analyzing the root cause of this phenomenon, we may realize that it is an aftermath of a ‘begging’ philosophy and culture we accumulated through ages. Motionlessness has become our vital principle and action is sin. Our morality is developed in such a way that begging alms is as divine as giving alms. We are good at stretching our arms out and sympathizing at them. When are we going to stop begging and sympathizing?

It would, of course, be a great lapse from my part, if I don’t bring your attention towards the genuine beggars. There are people who really need help. The disabled are to be given due consideration, while the frauds are to be brought to the light. The ways to root out this phenomenon are the subject of research and retreat. Here comes the role of government only who can do something in this matter. Whether rehabilitating the disabled to a safe place by raising funds or anything of that sort would be the concern and action plan of the government. It could possibly conduct awareness programmes to cultivate a sense of self-respect and self-dependency.

All the constitutions of the world, whether written or conventional, promulgate that looting is crime. It is a sin of commission, as it causes loss to the victim. Nonetheless, no law instructs that mooching is a crime, though it is a sin of commission and omission, causing humiliation to the beggar and loss of effort to the giver. Reasoning that begging is a crime, it is not a negligence of the disabled, but an acknowledgement of the careful carelessness of the government. Encouraging and helping the same is equally sinful, as it disgraces the other. Blindly but truly speaking, the act of begging and the act of helping it are crimes. Punishable!

-Tony Puthenveettil

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