Skip to main content

In India, beggars from Brahminical caste are "treated differently" from Dalits

By Sheshu Babu*
"They are but beggars that can count their worth" -- William Shakespeare in "Romeo and Juliet"
Whenever poorly-clad, dirty and expectant people gathering along major road junctions, bus stands, temples, mosques or churches, rail stations, etc. pleading for a coin or two are seen, they are either abused or evaded, or some coins are thrust into their empty bowls helplessly.
Little do people looking at these beggars realise that they too are human beings with self-respect and desire for a better life. Very few care for their psychic state and reasons for their helplessness and stark poverty.
As per the government data, there are about 3.7 lakh beggars in the country. Of these around 25% are Muslims. The data was based on religious orientation of those considered 'non-workers' in the Census 2011. The population of Muslims is about 14.23% of India's total but the number of beggars is comparatively high. As per the census 2011, 'non workers' are people who are non-participants in any economic activity ( paid or unpaid) , household duties or cultivation.
The Census categorised 72.89 crore individuals as non-workers, and of these 3.7 lakh as beggars. The census listed 92,760 Muslims as beggars. Hindus, who make up 79.8% of total population, had 2.68 lakh individuals listed as beggars (72.22% of Indian total beggar population).
In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, the Minister of Social Justice said that there were 4,13,670 beggars -- 2.2 lakh male and 1.91 lakh female beggars. West Bengal, Assam and Manipur had more female beggar than males. Thus, there are sizeable number of people who have almost no option but begging.
The problem of begging is associated with the problem of poverty and unemployment and it is a social problem of great magnitude as well as concern. According to a survey of Delhi School of Social Work, there has been a phenomenal increase in beggars in India. In a decade since 1991, their number has gone up by a lakh.
There were around 60, 000 beggars in Delhi, over 3,00,000 beggars in Mumbai, according to a 2004 Action Aid report. Then, there were nearly 75,000 beggars in Kolkata, according to the Beggar Research Institute, and in Hyderabad, one in 354 is engaged in begging, according to the Council of Human Welfare. Indeed, the line separating beggars and casual poor is getting slimmer, when one in four goes to bed hungry every night.

Mental and physical illness

Although many think that beggars are very happy and do not face problems, studies reveal that they face a number of difficulties in their lives. A study published in the "International Journal of Rehabilitation" by Dr Yogesh Thakker states that 39% of the beggars, surveyed in Gujarat's Vadodara district by a group of medicos, suffer from one or the other psychiatric illness.
Nearly 74% of them had a history of addiction, psychiatric illness in the family and poor attitude of family members towards them. Over 68% admitted to shame and losing self- esteem, 25% to guilt, 4% to suicidal tendencies and 8% to anti-social activities.
There appears to be no proper enumeration of beggars in the country. Number of women and children beggars is rising. The 1931 census showed 16% women as beggars, which shot up to 49% in 2001. There about 10 million street children, many of whom beg for livelihood.
A recent research paper in its analysis of primary data collected in Utter Pradesh's Aligarh district listed causes of begging and suggested some solutions.
The research revealed major causes of begging are prevalence of poverty, illiteracy, by inheritance of caste, handicapped, diseases, old age and death of parents, etc. Of these poverty was the most common causes found in half of the study population in the area.
The study has clearly demonstrated that this section of people are the poorest of poor and their foremost aim is the most basic need -- food. Other necessities (shelter and clothing) are far away and new additive needs like health and education are a dream for them.
Many state governments have 'banned' begging and the act of begging is seen as an undesirable unlawful act. Even the Centre is apathetic to the problem. Instead of taking positive steps towards rehabilitation and social reforms, prohibiting beggary may not yield results. " It demands a meaningful resolution. anti - begging laws is more a punitive action than remedial in nature.
It needs to be tackled with by governmental and non-governmental organizations. The root of the problem should be analysed so as to arrive at appropriate solutions. Laws are not the solution to a perennial problem of grim poverty and destitution.
In Indian society, especially Hindu castes, beggars belonging to a Brahminical caste are treated differently to those from Dalit and other lower caste. While 'yachakas' (Brahmins seeking alms) are given food and money to attain virtue (punya), Dalits are often abused and sent away most of the times.
This discrimination should also be addressed and such evil must be stopped. As Dalits and lower castes comprise more than those belonging to upper castes, there is a need to address the problem from the caste point of view. Annihilation of caste should go hand-in-hand with upliftment of beggars in the society.
---
*Writer from anywhere and everywhere supports social justice and equality and the need for egalitarian society

Comments

Caste is the prize, and earns value proportionate to the position it occurs in the hierarchy of one's birth in it.
Our chief secretary, a Tamil Brahman, had all his peons of his own caste of the state where he was working. He never called them by name [A, B, or C] but as Pandey Ji, DubeJi, Sharma Ji, etc. [surnames of his own community, not class in north India] with proportionate amount of emotion and respect, which would not mark his attitude towards others personnel of similar station. So, other too would do likewise, else they ran the risk of displeasure of the class of employees.
Dr B R Ambedkar said unambiguously "look at any drection and caste is the monster.
liaquath mirza said…
The irony of a brahmin begging for alms is that he demands as opposed to pleading for alms. He also flaunts his caste as a badge of honour when making the demand for charity.

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Modi model? "Refusal" to build Narmada's micro canals, keep Kutch dry; help industry

By Medha Patkar*
This is the latest photograph of the Kutch Branch Canal (KBC) of the Sardar Sarovar, as of April 8! What does it show, expose, and what memories do you recall? Is it dry or dead? Is it a canal or a carcass of the same?

Bill Gates "promoting" GMO, Bt cotton, like cartels that have roots in Hitler's Germany

By Our Representative
World-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr Vandana Shiva has expressed concern that Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation, has joined the bandwagon of “a poison cartel of three" – Monsanto and Bayer, Syngenta and ChemChina, Dow and DuPont – all of whom allegedly have “roots in Hitler’s Germany and finding chemicals to kill people”.

Indian talc products contain "contaminated" asbestos structures, can cause cancer: Study

Counterview Desk
A recent study, using polarizing light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction, and X-ray analysis on multiple over-the-counter Indian talc products for the presence of asbestos, has concluded that large quantities of body talc products are likely to pose a public health risk for asbestos-related diseases, especially for the cancers related to asbestos exposure.

Why are you silent on discrimination against Dalit jawans? Macwan questions Modi

By Rajiv Shah
Close on the heels of releasing his book in Gujarati, "Bhed Bharat", which lists 319 cases of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis across the country over the last five years, well-known Gujarat Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan has shot an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telling him the reasons why he does not want vote for the BJP.

Jharkhand Adivasi lynched to death by mob "chanting" Jai Shri Ram: Fact-finding team

Counterview Desk
On April 10, 2019, Prakash Lakda, a 50-year old Adivasi of Jurmu village of Gumla’s Dumri block, was lynched to death by a mob of men from the Sahu community of neighbouring Jairagi village. Three other victims from Jurmu – Peter Kerketta, Belarius Minj and Janerius Minj – sustained severe injuries due to the beating by the mob. A fact-finding team of Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), comprising of several activists and representatives of member organisations, conducted a fact-finding inquiry into the incident on April 14-15.

Investigation shows Narmada downstream "seriously" polluted. Reason: apathy, greed

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant, Swati Desai*
Our investigation regarding quality of water flowing in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD), dated April 6, 2019, between 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. reiterates, what is commonly known now, that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is planned without considering its impact on the downstream Narmada River stretch of 161 kilometres, its ecology, biodiversity and fishery, and lakhs of people living close to and dependent on the river directly or indirectly. This, in turn, has led to its present disastrous state.

Emergence of a rare Dalit teacher in IIT-Kanpur "disturbed" certain faculty members

By PS Krishnan, IAS (Retd)*
Dr Subrahmanyam Sadrela, a faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur since January 1, 2018, and one of the rare Dalit members of the faculty in IIT group of institutions, is facing the threat of revocation of his PhD thesis, and thereby also jeopardizing his job and career.

RTE in remote areas? Govt of India "plans" to close down 2.4 lakh schools

By Srijita Majumder*
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, came into effect on April 1, 2010, for the first time made it obligatory on the part of the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from 6-14 years of age in India. The Act, despite its limitations, had progressive elements like neighbourhood schools, community participation, ban on corporal punishment, no detention, continuous and comprehensive evaluation and it hence it appeared that India was not far from achieving universal elementary education.

Election Commission suffering from worst-ever "credibility crisis": Ex-bureaucrats

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, a group of ex-bureaucrats have lamented ‘weak-kneed’ responses of the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Citing various violations of the model code of conduct, and pointing towards how ECI has taken little action, the letter asks the President to tell ECI to “conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are not questioned.”