May 07, 2005


Snapshot 1: An women in ragged cloths with one dirty infant in her arms approaches my car which stopped at a red light in Shahbag. I become so moved by the thing that the baby is of about the age of my daughter. Looking tired from exposure to the hot sun the baby lays its head on the women's shoulder, who gently starts knocking in my window.

I sprung from the sitting position just to pull my wallet to give her something. S. stopped me warning that the light will turn green at any moment. And then she tells me a shocking fact that there are babies for hire which are exploited by beggers like this women who are not actually the mother. She said: "just look at the women, she looks poor but is young and is able to work. But she has probably hired this infant to generate sympathies among the people like you and cash on it. These babies are kept devoid of food the whole day, while these beggars do not forget to nourish their stomach." S. expressed anger over the parents of these babies, who let them exposed in this misery and commented that we should not encourage these criminals by giving alms. As we moved on I argued that maybe these babies are orphans and probably with little help they can survive. But in the end I also echoed with her that there are orphanages and other charitable institutions in the country for people like these and Bangladesh is not in a condition that people are dying without food. Exploiting these babies is a case of tricky begging profession. There are also reports that kids are disfigured so that they can be used in begging. It is part of a powerful racket as beggars have to give a portion of their income to people who secure a place for them beside a road or under a leafy tree. It reminds me of this post from Daniel.

Snapshot 2: Tanya writes a touching article about how she was moved by one one-legged Cycle-Rickshaw puller who was proud to carry on with his dream and marrying off his three daughters with his hard-earned money. When you meet persons like this you see the aura of pride and joy of life. He could be a beggar instead and cash on his physical conditions but he chose to keep his head high.

The reality: I have written in a previous post warning that more and more people are taking begging as a profession. In our country a successful beggar can earn more than a day laborer, because the tradition is to pay something to the beggars. But paying to beggars turns out to be patronizing a profession, rather than helping a needy. In western countries some individual beg by playing some instruments or drawing something. In the subcontinent, beggars cash on their poverty like conditions and virtually earn without any creative work (except if you consider the art of asking for money as creative).

Probably those people are lazy in nature as they are choosing a more less laborious profession as begging than the struggle to keep their pride.


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