How to deal with the beggars

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#1 Jan 29th, 2004, 05:50
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#1
I leave on Feb 6th for my first trip to India - 5 weeks in Mumbai on business. I'm a bit apprehensive about the beggars which are apparently very numerous in this city. Below are some of the things I've found during my research on this site and elsewhere. Does this match up with your experience? Is anything incorrect or missing?

1) Many beggars are part of organized begging rings and that most if not all of the money you give will end up in the bosses pocket.
2) Give to one and you may quickly find yourself swarmed by others.
3) If you have a weak spot for little kids (who doesn't?), keep a pocket full of candies to dole out. At least you know that will go to the child...
4) Dismiss agressive beggars by sharply saying "Nah-He!" once then avoiding any further interaction.


-Matthew
#2 Jan 29th, 2004, 09:56
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#2
I have no idea about beggars, or how I would/will handle them since I have not been to India yet.
But I found the book "A Fine Balance" to be a very interesting description on how the lives of those who give to beggars, the beggars themselves, and the beggars bosses are intertwined and how they all need each other. The bosses protect the beggars and give them funerals when/if their "beggars" die. In other words, they are sort of like pimps, but beggars couldn't survive...i.e. couldn't beg, without them.
Of course, that was just a novel I read...but it made me think a bit differently about the situation.
Other ideas? Comments?
I would really be interested in hearing more on this topic...particularly from non Western people.
#3 Jan 29th, 2004, 13:44
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#3
If you give candy to the children (or pens) they will see that begging works, and go on to asking for money.

I deal with the beggars in India the way I deal with beggars in San Francisco -- I ignore them whenever possible. And I do not let them touch me.
The map is not the territory. --Alfred Korzybski
#4 Jan 29th, 2004, 14:00
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give nothing. there are many reasons and none of them need be based on you being a tightwad. the issues are endless and can be complicated, a mere fraction outlined above.

for starters anyone with two legs and arms should get nothing save they are blind or crazy.
#5 Jan 29th, 2004, 14:31
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I doubt if anything we give or don't give will have the slightest effect on begging in India, other than the amount of hassle we may receive.

I wonder if foreign tourists give one tenth of one percent of the total monies received by beggars in India.
#6 Jan 29th, 2004, 14:55
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#6

Unhappy

I'm probably being hopelessly naive here but some of the comments on this thread strike me as pretty harsh.

I'm prepared to be shot down in flames here as I've never been to India so haven't experienced the begging yet. However, I have experienced it in other Asian countries, and I've never really begrudged a bit of small change here and there.

Is it all going to beggar's bosses / part of some organised begging ring or are you just using this as an excuse not to part with a little cash?

I've met some extremely tightfisted travellers in my time - the sort that haggle for half an hour over the equivalent of 10 pence. They usually tend to be the ones that never give to beggars, either. Hardly a coincidence, in my opinion.

Just my view, like. I'm interested to hear what others have to say about this emotive issue.
#7 Jan 29th, 2004, 15:11
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#7
The following link is to an old poll.

Do you give a child in india 'one pen'?
#8 Jan 29th, 2004, 15:19
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Thanks for that link, steven. I hadn't seen that thread before. I had a feeling this issue might be particularly divisive.

(And now I expect I'm gonna get flamed even more)
#9 Jan 29th, 2004, 15:45
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in the end, it's really not a big deal. You'll have endless opportunity to try every which way there is to be with 'em.
some days I give some days I don't. I never think much about it, as my contribution makes as big a ripple in their lives as sticking my little finger in the ocean, ya know?
#10 Jan 29th, 2004, 19:28
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There are many properly organised charities for street children etc in India. I give a certain amount to them, and then feel that i've made a more active contribution. it's not a get out of guilt ticket, just, in my opinion, the best way to make a difference. As in all things there's no best way to deal with them, just compassion!
#11 Jan 29th, 2004, 19:57
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#11

Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally posted by carlos
There are many properly organised charities for street children etc in India.
Got any links for that, carlos?

That does sound like a more productive way of trying to help, you're right.
#12 Jan 29th, 2004, 20:58
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Personally we never give unless the person is obviously disabled. In India, the kind of social safety nets that work in other countries are not so efficient here. Sometimes you find people who truly could not survive without begging. We never give to children, or the young mothers who stand in the street with a baby in their arms. Unless they touch my partners feet and then he goes all wimpy. FYI You can be fined 100 rs in Delhi for giving to a beggar who is in traffic.
Reject violence.
#13 Jan 29th, 2004, 21:02
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#13
Ok so l have been in India for around 5 wks now and to be honest there isn't as many beggars as l thought there would be BUT my method is 2 just completely blank them, like they don't exist, if your with someone carry on your conversation or if your on your own just keep doing whatever you where doing AND do not hesitate around them because then you'll attract and they will stick around you 4 longer! I've had enough exp of them and actually had to daily deal with groups of beggars when l lived in Tangshan, China.

Wonderwoman

Totally agree, l have seen a few other westerners hand out pens or candy, is it actually helping them out? Obv not its just encouraging them to beg , esp more persistant with westerners. I haven't seen one Indian give money yet unless its a sadhu. And yes the money will 9/10 go into the hands of someone else. If you want to help out then give cash to a local charity. I gave to a few charities in Gwailor , go to the local tourist office they will give you address/contact details.
#14 Jan 29th, 2004, 21:11
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what l have noticed though is that most if not all indians will give money to disabled/disfurgered beggars. Been on a few local buses and on stops 1 or 2 disabled beggars come saying something in hindi l don't understand and everyone practically had their hands to the beggar with short change! I couldn't believe it, l was talking to some middle class guy and he said the beggars might have said they would curse them or something and some Indians fall for it?? Ne 1 heard of this??
#15 Jan 29th, 2004, 21:38
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#15
I don't buy the behaviorist line of thinking and it's basic argument that rewarding any and all begging action will only positively reinforce that action and thus uphold - or even worse - contribute to the growth of the "begging scene". It's more a matter of minimized life options on the beggars part, a sort of shrinking of the world of individual possibilities.

I suspect that being a beggar is a pretty miserable position to be in: you have to put aside your dignity and pride and be a downright pest. Most beggars I've seen don't look like they have that much choice. "Get a job, you lazy bastard" you may think, "you have two arms and legs and a good head on your shoulders". Geez, even in countries that are supposedly well off there are unemployed and homeless people, what do you expect from a country with the population and infrastructure of India! Some options are real and others are just downright utopian.

So don't fall into the trap of thinking that beggars are some kind of simple automatons that prefer to beg just because they've learned to do so. They are mostly victims of greed and power, an unfair world. If you give them something, you just might make their miserable day a bit better. They're justified in giving us a frigging hard time, look at the huge difference between our lives and theirs! Too bad if they ruin your glitzy holiday experience.

Besides, giving conditionally is hypocritical and patronizing: "I'll give you money if you use it for a specific purpose. I know what is best for you!" Beggars may be poor, but they're still human. The act of giving should leave it up to the recipient to do with the gift as they please.

Thank you for reading my rant.
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