Tuesday, 14 June 2011


Beggary on the wane in Kerala: Study
T.K. Devasia
14 June 2011
TRIVANDRUM - Beggary, once regarded as a huge social problem in the southern Indian state of Kerala, is on the wane.

A study by the Kerala Social Security Mission (KSSM) in the three cities of the state found a drastic fall in the number of people seeking alms on the streets. The beggars who were once seen everywhere have become a rare sight now.

A few who were traced by the study team in the cities of Trivandrum, Cochin and Calicut were seen in better pastures with a paradigm shift in their dress, behaviour and modus operandi of begging.

As many as 65 per cent of the beggars were found in religious places, where arms are given as part of the religious ceremony. The beggars have found the religious places a safe haven since there they get not only money but also food and shelter.

“Nobody questions them or disturb them from begging. One cannot demarcate between a beggar and a religious devotee. Being a religious place they are safe and they use this place”, said the study report.

Interestingly, the study team could also spot able bodied and employed people among beggars at the religious places. One such person was a regular employee of the state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. He had taken to begging by taking long leave from his office.

Dinesh Bhaskaran, regional director of the KSSM, said many people from the middle class were attracted to begging as they could easily earn Rs300 to Rs500 a day without doing any work. To earn this they need only to sit in one place for a few hours.

Another interesting finding of the study is that 41 per cent of the beggars seen in the cities were non-Keralites from outside the state. About 39 per cent of the beggars resorted to begging under the shade of religion.

Only nine per cent of the beggars had disability and 8 per cent mental and chronic illness that pushed many to begging earlier. Sixteen per cent of the beggars were in the field due to old age. Poverty pushed another 16 per cent to begging.

Professional beggars, who once dominated the field, constituted only six per cent now. The study attributes the decline in the number of beggars to enforcement of anti-begging laws, frequent raids by municipal corporation authorities, and intervention by agencies such as ‘Childline’.

The strong steps taken by the Railway Protection Force and the State police to check the activities of the begging mafia in the wake of many incidents of trapping children as well as the free rice made available to the poor in Tamil Nadu also brought down the number beggars coming form other states. If the declining trend continues, Kerala may soon become a state free of beggar menace.
what of the begging mafia? it is big business in kerala.


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