Sunday, March 11, 2007

Should we pay money to beggars?

How much ever be the progress we have achieved, we still have beggars in the world; on M G Road and Brigade Road of Bangalore too. They present a pathetic sight. They have to, by definition, don't they? For, tugging at the hearts and emotions is their aim.

All of us, at some time or other, have asked ourselves this question: should I give this beggar a coin? Different people react in different ways for different reasons.

I am sure none of us want the beggar to hang around for far too long and would like him/her to be dismissed as quickly as possible. For that, some people -- with the sole purpose of getting rid of the problem -- either quickly dig into their purse and hand over a coin, or just put up a stony indifference.

There are some others who are sympathetic; feel they can't be helpless, put in whatever little they can, and hand over a coin to the beggar. They also think this is one small way of helping out the needy.

There are also people who are determined just not to oblige. They think giving a 50 paise coin to a beggar doesn't help him or her. It doesn't in any way go towards improving the beggar's life standard. Besides, obliging the beggar is a way of perpetuating an unacceptable social practice.

I belong to his category. I have on a few occasions in the past obliged; but I don't now. I shake my head and indicate not to expect anything from me.

A couple of days back, I discovered that there was a different way of looking at this issue.

I was travelling in an auto with a friend on M G Road. At the Cauvery Emporium junction, a small girl approached the auto with her hand stretched out. As ususal I ignored her. But my friend put his hand into his pocket and took out a toffee, and gave it to the girl.

"If ever you give something to beggars, never give them money, because it never goes to the people who employ them," he told me. "Instead give them something to eat, like a slice of bread or chocolate, or something to drink."

In kind, instead of cash. May not be a complete solution to them problem, but definitely a kinder one, a more realistic one. Seems to make a lot of sense.

PS:- Beggars can get angry, arrogant and ungrateful, for whatever reason; as this post by Anoop shows.


  1. I've tried asking 'healthy' beggars to come and work in estates. Result: 99 out of 100 of them disappear into thin air!

  2. Begging is a big money spinner! These people are loaded with money and even lend money! The pathetic picture they show is used with practised and cold ease. And you are right. We should not give them money and encourage this trade. I never give money no matter how pathetic the beggar looks. I know numeorus people who work in NGO's and their accounts have sort of opened my eyes to this flourishing industry.

  3. I don't believe either that giving a coin to a beggar would help him/her satisfy his/her needs. On the contrary, I think it's an offense to his/her dignity. However, once in a while, I give a little something to the physically disabled, the elderly, or some food to some children.

    In general, I'd rather addressing the causes of a problem instead of emphasizing the symptoms. and the beggars are just the symptoms of a larger problem that every government should make a priority to solve.

    Thanks for your comments on my blog. I am not doing research, I just feel that a blog is an interesting way to voice one's opinions on matters that affect the majority of people. It shouldn't be a narcissic medium to talk about oneself. You can email me at

  4. Have you seen the movie "Traffic Signal"? I agree it's not very good or enlightening but sure gives one an idea of what happens behind the scenes.

    Begging itself should be routed out Pradeep. We cannot continue to feed it's growth by giving the beggars something or the other. It's not going to work.

    But this is a vicious circle. You don't where to start or stop. And which one where will have the intended effect. Your friend seems to have found a solution. It looks like a solution that would satisfy an individual but will it have any effect on the society and make it better for living? I don't think so.

  5. I prefer to give them something to eat too. if I find them outside a shop or hotel I get them some food. But if I have no food with me nor is there a shop nearby, I still give them a coin as someone once told me that if they dont bring any money, the guy who runs this begging racket hits them and gives them no food.

  6. I have heard, it is a fully grown industry. Try this sometime -- try to talk with one of the "child" beggars, asking him/her about the way they live and how much they earn, getting them into an orphanage etc etc.. chances are that in some time another man would come over who would want you not to talk with the child. It would be this man who the child is actually "working" for and he would not want you to wander near the child.