(Analysis) Eliminating Beggary: An Urgent Social Need

(Analysis) Eliminating Beggary: An Urgent Social Need

Beggary in IndiaAccording to the 1959 law on beggary, Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, anyone perceived as having "No visible means of subsistence" and "wandering about" can be termed a beggar and detained in certified institutions for a period of not less than one year and upto 10 years for second time offenders.

But the real story reveals that the law has resulted in the detention of not only poor beggars, but also of disabled persons and perhaps trying to eke out a living by offering small articles for sale. Rag pickers and de-notified tribes engaged in earning, paltry sums by singing, dancing, fortune telling or performing have also been at the receiving end of the archaic law for many decades.

Failure of the law has been recognized and as a result, the Delhi and Maharashtra governments have given an in principle nod to ending it. In Delhi, a committee has been set up recently to give recommendations to the government as what needs to be done in order to cheek this undignified practice.

In order to end the practice of beggary, active participation of the state as well as that of the society is required. It's a pity that the anti-poor prejudice is so deeply rooted in our country that the beggars are most of the times treated as nuisance and are offer criminalized. So, the idea of ending beggary has to start with ending the causes of beggary. Keeping the fact in mind that it is one of the methods of survival for people who don't have enough, to go to those who have enough, when they are hungry. Thus is it drastically wrong to criminalize such a thing.

Some of the major steps towards alleviating this practice could be:
(i) mainstreaming of beggars in the society by providing them vocational training and employing them in the unorganized/organized sector,
(ii) rehabilitating them,
(iii) providing them legal support and
(iv) reintegrating them with their families.

Importance of the Article/News

(vii) Social Issue – (Social Sector Initiative)
(viii) 1959 Begging Act and its impact on non-beggars.

Courtesy: The Hindu

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