Street-side begging is not only a social menace but is also reflective of the sad state of governance and administrative inaction. In India, where there is hardly any social security net and where rights often overweigh the need to stick to duties, begging as a right and an offence draw equal vociferousness. But the good news is that the country is debating, amid active participation of the judiciary, and a slow realization among the states, to do something about beggars and begging.
Bad news is we are far from framing a sound policy, where rights of the poor are proactively protected by the state and the right to dignified living is recognized in letter and spirit.
On Monday, the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government launched an initiative to end begging in the national capital. The government said it is committed to providing livelihood support by imparting skill training to beggars while simultaneously giving them a daily stipend of, say, Rs 100.
In a pilot project in the central district, the government plans to make Delhi begging-free by rehabilitating beggars. As per the survey of the city government, there are 20,719 beggars in Delhi.
“People are forced into begging because of social and economic circumstances. They are the most vulnerable section of society. Keeping this in mind, we conducted a survey to identify such persons and formulate a plan through which they can be rehabilitated,” Rajendra Pal Gautam, Delhi’s Social Welfare Minister, was quoted in The Indian Express as saying.