Manipulative mendicants

Manipulative mendicants
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First Published: Wed, May 06 2009. 11 47 PM IST
Updated: Wed, May 06 2009. 11 47 PM IST
It’s fairly well-known that international sporting events have unintended, albeit positive, economic consequences. The Hindustan Times (HT) reported on Sunday that beggars have set up a school in west Delhi to teach foreign languages—in anticipation of the lucrative panhandling market during the Commonwealth Games.
While one can’t help but admire the tenacity of these beggars, it’s a shame that they aren’t pursuing productive work. That such informal workers have institutionalized their trade—one man told HT he was the leader of at least 1,200 beggar families—is enough to debunk claims that panhandlers are simply helpless.
To be sure, the presence of beggars in India’s urban centres is a travesty. But this informal school suggests these beggars do want to improve their situation—and, like most of us, earn more in the process.
Imagine, then, if rehabilitation programmes tapped into such beggar networks. India’s panhandlers could pursue meaningful work—without the duplicity.
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First Published: Wed, May 06 2009. 11 47 PM IST