India has 3.72 lakh beggars of whom 21% are literate, having at least cleared Class XII. In fact, over 3,000 have professional diplomas, or are graduates and even post-graduates, according to the Census 2011 data on `Non-workers by main activity and education level’ released earlier this week.
Many of them have turned the adage `beggars cannot be choosers’ on its head -especially considering that they made a studied choice to take up beggary after their degrees failed to land them satisfactory jobs.
“I may be poor but I am an honest man. I beg as it fetches me more money , Rs 200 a day.My last job, as a ward boy in a hospital, got me only Rs 100,“ said Dinesh Khodhabhai (45), a Class XII passout with a halfway decent command over English.
Dinesh is part of a motley group of 30 beggars who seek alms around Ahmedabad’s Bhadra Kali temple. Before their work begins, they sip hot tea offered gratis by a local.
After he flunked his thirdyear BCom exams, Sudhir Babulal (51) came to Ahmedabad from Vijapur town with stars in his eyes. However, masonry jobs proved erratic, fetching him Rs 3,000 for a 10 hour shift and nothing for weeks on end. “After my wife left me, where was the need to keep a house? I sleep on the riverfront and beg,“ said Sudhir, who averages Rs 150 a day .
Dashrath Parmar (52), who has an MCom degree from Gujarat University , is another pan-handler. This father-of-three, who aspired for government service but lost even the private job he had, today lives off free meals offered by charity organisations.
Ashok Jaisur, who cleared high school from Mumbai and now begs in the Lal Darwaza area, left his job as a security guard after he lost sight due to cataract. He says he begs to ensure better prospects for his family . “I have only one wish: to make my son Raj an animator,“ said Ashok, who feeds his nine daughters and wife from income earned off the streets.
“It’s difficult to rehabilitate beggars as they get lured back due to easy money ,“ said Biren Joshi of Manav Sadhana, an NGO working with beggars.“Graduates turning to begging reflects the grim employment scenario. People turn to beggary when they do not get decent jobs and have no social support to fall back on,“ added sociologist Gaurang Jani.
Source: Times of India 30 Dec’2015