Panhandling in streets is nothing new, and not a case exclusive to towns here. However, in the context of pandemic- and war-induced pauperization, begging has appears as a challenge to poverty-alleviation drives in less-fortunate countries. If Dhaka is taken for a case study, it appears that the city where extremes of affluence and penury in a section of population meet is getting burdened with so many seeking alms. Beggars used to bee seen only on Thursdays-Fridays, but now every day.
They are of many age categories-- some very old, some young or some are middle-aged. Few capable persons who can work easily are also seen extending hand, almost in all places you stand.
When I get to shop, I used to see gatherings only on Thursdays. After COVID-19 a large number of beggars appear on the road or coming to my shop every day. They are roaming around every day. They are begging door to door for alms. Rally of beggars is increasing alarmingly.
For lack of work people are entering into the unpleasant sector without any hesitation. Job sector getting narrow everywhere, unemployment is degrading our human resource. Educated and uneducated alike, people having failed to manage job rush to get food or money for their sheer living.
In my boyhood I almost found many beggars who came to houses for food. They were fed full stomach. Nothing could be realized for another purpose of begging food. Only food for begging was the only motto of the beggars.
Beggars' presence nowadays beggars description-- they are sighted everywhere in many patterns. Disabled persons are proper for begging whenever we find capable persons are also in the rally. Very old males or females who are helpless should be helped.
Alms-seekers gather on road, street, beside mosque, train, bus even beside the food coat. Some move one place to another but some sit or sleep constantly on the road.
When I went to Mecca, I saw beggars waiting for assistance. Police moved them from the surroundings of Haramsharif. Waiting in the mosque or beside the mosque in our country is a common sight. Beggars showing medical prescription or report of diagnostic centre are growing in number, since many of them are fake.
For lack of confidence in the medical report showed by beggars, many passersby do not pay heed to them. Having prepared medical report by an unauthorized person is a usual matter. Real sufferers from disease or almost financial problem wrap upon counterfeit medical report.
Prodip , a businessman, gave the message how much income of a beggar is. He said, "A beggar's one-day income is Tk 1400. Will he work or do business?" Prodip has been doing steel-sheet business for about 30 years.
Maulana Hosen once offered a beggar a job. The beggar refused to join in the job. Dependency on others exists in our country where independence mentality is absent.
Some wicked persons do business using some disabled to beg. They collect very helpless persons who seemed burden to our society. Beggars who are not able to move from one place to another are kept by the alms traders who are doing business. Azimpur Graveyard is one of the hubs of beggars. On special days, like Friday and Shab-e- barat days, gatherings are incomparable.
Credit goes to Grameen Bank's founder, Dr Muhammad Yunus, as we have seen reduction in beggars in the past. Grameen Bank has given loan to the helpless people who beg and have no documents. In this way many beggars have become trader or producer or a businessman by dint of loan which is a microcredit.
Beggars themselves are not alone guilty of taking up this as their profession-- they are the victim of our country's disparate economic condition. If the beggars are properly utilized, instead of almsgiving, they can be human resource. Most of us only hate the beggars but not make them employed.
They can be used in a productive way .Beggars are not showing good approach of our country. So government authority must emphasize remedying the unpleasant sector of begging.
Mohammad Sultan is Lecturer of Economics, Southern City College, Dhaka.