Do you have a passion for writing?Join Ayra as a Writertoday and start earning.

Begging: A Cry for Help or a Chosen Livelihood?

From Street Survival to Strategic Hustles

10 Jun '24
3 min read


In India, begging is an everyday reality that underscores the stark contrast between wealth and poverty, and it plays out across bustling metropolises like Mumbai and Delhi as well as in smaller towns and rural areas. For many individuals, begging is not a choice but a dire necessity driven by economic hardship, unemployment, and insufficient social safety nets. With millions living in extreme poverty, surviving on less than ₹150 per day, begging often becomes a last resort for securing basic necessities such as food, water, and shelter. Take, for instance, the story of Ramesh, a middle-aged man who once worked as a daily wage laborer in Mumbai. After an accident left him disabled and unable to work, he found himself abandoned by his family and with no means to support himself. Forced onto the streets, Ramesh turned to begging near CST station, hoping for enough alms to get through the day. His story is not unique; many elderly, disabled, and mentally ill individuals across India find themselves similarly marginalized and compelled to beg for survival.

However, the issue of begging in India is more complex than mere desperation. In urban centers like Delhi and Bangalore, there exists a darker side where begging is organized into sophisticated networks. These networks exploit vulnerable individuals, including children and disabled people, coercing them into begging and collecting substantial sums of money. In one high-profile incident, police in Hyderabad busted a begging syndicate that was trafficking children from neighboring states, forcing them to beg at traffic signals and markets. This operation revealed the systemic exploitation and human trafficking underlying much of the begging seen in the city.

On the other hand, some individuals see begging as a practical decision. In places like Kolkata, surveys have found that some beggars can earn up to ₹500 a day, which is more than what many unskilled laborers make. For some, the autonomy and untaxed income from begging are preferable to the grueling hours and meager pay of traditional jobs. This reality creates a moral conundrum for the public, who are torn between the desire to help those in visible distress and the fear of inadvertently supporting exploitative networks.

Addressing the issue of begging in India requires a multi-faceted approach. Comprehensive policies and interventions are needed, including expanding access to healthcare, education, and employment opportunities, and enhancing social safety nets to provide alternatives to begging. Legal reforms are crucial to dismantle organized begging syndicates and protect the vulnerable. Public awareness campaigns can educate citizens about the complexities of begging, encouraging them to support verified charities and NGOs that provide sustainable assistance. Economic empowerment programs, such as vocational training and microfinance, can offer viable pathways out of poverty. By addressing the root causes of begging with empathy and understanding, we can work towards a society where no one has to rely on the kindness of strangers to survive.



Written by Hitarth Munjal