April 7, 2007

Comrade-In-Alms: Beggars In Mumbai Own Duplexes

Filed under: India n Me,Mumbai,opinions,Truth of India — Kaveeta Oberoi Kaul @ 12:11 pm
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Kaveetaa Kaul

If you have to keep your wits about you, then adopt a tongue-in cheek stance to news..this has been a mantra I have recently adopted. Getting incensed over incestuous rapes, paedophilia, murders is is their occurrence. Sometimes one anaesthetises oneself into a zombie like state, murmurs ‘it happens’, or filmi style ‘ bade bade shahron mein aisi chhoti chhoti baatein aksar hoti rehti hain’ ( Relax! In big cities, small things such as this, keep happening) and with a wave of the hand , shrugs it off.

Mostly, one writes of it, expresses disgust, pleads for support, even if verbal, increases awareness, and sends a silent prayer to the heavens to ‘Stop This S&*^” for Your sake.

And then, once in a while, one is taken aback with news of the kind, that confounds you as to appropriate reaction. For me it resulted in a regaling half hour, bemusedly sponging in details, displaying blatant predilection over Page three/entertainment.sports/since it was a unique amalgamation … Beggars owning duplexes in Mumbai was so far just an inane piece of gossip floating around .To have read details, solidified the rumors..once and for all.

From assets ranging between 5-70 lakhs these so far nameless, faceless lot have done appreciably well for themselves…so what if mendacious usage of skills honed to perfection, has been the chosen path. Few can boast of creating something out of nothing.. literally. I mean an MBA would have to struggle for a good 5-7 years to amass property of the kind.

What does this prove? Mumbai has a large heart..we are gullible, emotionally vulnerable, too fearful of Karma algorithms. For some it could be a religiously adhered to and advised by formula to duck retribution, atoning for their sins, that translates into a a largess for those ‘less fortunate’ (?!)

One has to read the link a couple of times before the implications of its contents set in. It certainly does not evoke such a good feeling about oneself..’wet behind the ears’, naive, foolhardy, are some of the terms flashing in my head.. Its impossible not to ‘tsk tsk’ a serpiginous wound, displayed prominently on the neck of a toddler, or the severed limbs of a young man in his prime, or an aged woman, physically incapable of even crossing the street.. and the beggars know that fully well!

Oh! how they exploit your sentiments.. make you feel guilty for sitting back in your air conditioned limo. listening to Kitaro, when they come knocking right into your face, behind the window just have to fish out something with subtle munificence..its impolite to begin counting right under their nose, so you tend to pass on whatever is within reach without really looking…and then the blessings ..smiles are exchanged between the two.. one of these surely at a deal well made.

Earning anywhere between 100-300 a day ..on a conservative feeding on the kindness of people! India posited…Poverty a thing of the past or at best deserved for those who resist inventiveness..and conform to the anachronistic principles of hard work!

Meet Mr. Beggar..our newest lakhpati..soon to be crorepati! Treat with deference..who knows he may well provide you with a loan, to help you buy your home! Futuristic..think may soon be a viable option over red tapism. In no mood now to look askance at rumors, I believe financing/funding from the Brotherhood of Beggars is factual, already a realism.! Big B!

Lifes not all that hunky dory for some.. they have their worries. Like the EMI for the new plot at Palghar!

One was pitifully moaning over the Doctor-beggar-mafia news which bespoke of healthy limbs being amputated to evoke sympathy..just how deep was the nexus ? Who is to blame? Does a country and its politicos not have the duty to provide for its citizenry? Questions..questions..Reality always throwing up images flummoxing, to say the least.

So how does one tackle this? ‘Stop’ giving alms? What if it is a ‘genuine beggar’? ‘Genuine’? Gosh now an ISI mark for beggars as well!!

Apparently Mendicancy is a veritable ‘cottage industry‘.. I will ‘beg’ to differ with whoever said Indians are not a progressive, innovative, positive lot. Turning your misfortune into a ‘rain of fortune’ calls for imagination! A work day that comprises merely a ‘change of attire’, hopping into a rickshaw, choosing your working hours, merely presenting yourself before a prospective ‘bakra’ , sometimes without uttering a word, and gaining a neat sum at the end of the day to see the latest SRK flick in the newest multiplex (personally witnessed) ..well…survival of the fittest!

Farmers are fleeing from their lands ..its lucrative business elsewhere..Mumbai is exploding..

Move over communism..beggar-ism is here!


  1. I’m going to think ten times before i decide to dole out dough. Its hard earned money n these guys have been making a fool out of us! But that part about him taking an auto changing into his working clothes is really funny convincingly they dupe us..ass$%^$#!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Neha — April 8, 2007 @ 8:52 am | Reply

  2. Kaveetaa, that was black humor..quite liked it.
    This has been quite an open secret for some time now. Resultantly, I had long since discontinued any favours on that score.I think its more sensible to give charity to a valued trust.. and by that I dont mean NGO’s.They are a racket best avoided.

    Comment by dilip — April 8, 2007 @ 10:28 am | Reply

  3. we are all emotional fools, the easiest way to make money in this country is to either to steal away someone’s fortune or to beg your way to one!

    Comment by raghav — April 8, 2007 @ 12:59 pm | Reply

  4. Did u know that they are money lenders…big time!!!
    Its true n nothing but the truth!!!!
    there is a whole new universe its f****** crazy!!!!See one n run a mile is my honest advice..

    Comment by Anonymous — April 8, 2007 @ 2:22 pm | Reply

  5. It is a tragedy that beggars have exploited the basic humane,sympathetic attitude of our people.It is high time people say no to beggars.

    Comment by Ravindra Mundkur — April 8, 2007 @ 7:05 pm | Reply

  6. Hi Neha..ya.. its time ..major re-thinking needed.

    Hi Dilip,
    At times, cynicism peppered with a tinge of humor gets you by..or how else does one swallow such blatant exploitation of our emotions. About NGO’s ..yes I hear and know of many who have made it their livelihood, bread butter and salami..There is definitely more to them than meets the eye.

    Hi Raghav,
    Hopefully things will change for the better..After all the condition that lead to eventualities of the kind stem from a mismanaged administration at the highest level. India will outgrow its corrupt and inept ways..or is that purely a naive utopian thought process emerging from another emotional base? sigh..

    Hi Anonymous.. Money lenders?!! So my conjecture is already a truism? But who’d want to borrow from them? And how would they ensure re-payment?

    Hi Ravindra,

    So true.. it definitely does stop you from reaching into your wallet spontaneously, as was the case earlier. You know there is this handicapped person outside Joggers park, who wins you over with his smile and manners, apart from his obvious education . He is currently on an indigenously made wheel chair, in perfect English approaches us, for funds.. How does one say no to this case? It seems genuine. The only niggling doubt now is that perhaps he too has made his lakhs and continues to sponge off our sympathy..Who knows?

    Comment by kaveetaakaul — April 9, 2007 @ 9:33 am | Reply

  7. HI Kaveetaa… sad story; but, why does everyone want to punish the real poor, with the faked poor? This is not the “way” of compassion.

    IN 1997, a new government here in Canada; in an atempt to stop welfare fraud; took 21.6% income from everyone on the system!! This included single mothers, disabled mothers with children.

    So, what happened was, all the healthy people lazing off the system; went off the system; but, those needing the system.. paid punishment with a loss of income, which pits them currently, to 30$ below poverty levels in Canada.

    Now, did it make sense to do this? To impoverish the already poor—because of a few bad apples?

    DO we turn away from them too? What kind of people “have we” become…. with this kind of thinking strategy?


    Comment by North — April 12, 2007 @ 4:34 pm | Reply

  8. Oops,, that’s 30% below poverty levels, not 30$

    Comment by North — April 12, 2007 @ 4:36 pm | Reply

  9. Didn’t mean to bring in my personal drama Kaveetaa; but, in hindsight; do realize, it’s often a mistake to disclose personal experience with a topic of discussion.


    too many why’s reall; but, the common error of perception.. is if the reader submits themeselves to bias opinion; rather, than a true learning lesson; of what I said.

    Suddenly, all the frauds whom “could” work, did; but, how many thousands of broken families of disease, poverty, illness’s; were sacrificed? I know some of these families; and in ten years.. too many just never recovred from losing so much money at once that way!!

    I suppose, I ramble on still; just to urge all; not to group the good apples with the bad apples.. it is not fair, it is not the “way” of healing, positiveness, nor compassion.

    ((of soap-box meanderings, I smile…))

    Comment by North — April 12, 2007 @ 8:59 pm | Reply

  10. North,
    Its the beggars who are cheating us and clubbing us together as a bunch of ass%$#@*&.
    Noone likes to be cheated. the situation In India is very different from what you are talking about. Its not even connected with you.Tomorrow if you were to give to a charity you would also react if u realised that u have been cheated. Its a matter of breach of faith..whats wrong with that? Compassion does not mean turning oneself into suckers.

    Comment by Neha — April 12, 2007 @ 10:39 pm | Reply

  11. Neha Hi.. I think North is speaking from a different perspective.

    Hi North,

    Maybe you have taken this to another level. You have to be here to witness exactly what it is we are implying. Have you read the link in detail? I suggest you do please so that its clear in your mind that what you are in fact alluding to is ‘charity’ while the focal point of this post is alms. It may seem similar but it is subtly distinct.

    And was of concern as well that those who legitimately are deserved of help might get affected. But sifting is not always easy. Often I have witnessed that money given to these little children is spent on drugs etc.. One wonders then if we are not in fact aiding illegal activities by carelessly handing out alms without bothering to ensure that it is not being misused.. tall order.

    But I will agree with Neha that it is in fact un connected apparently with the situation you draw attention to. These are totally diverse conditions. Apologies if you have felt hurt..but please do not make the mistake of ever placing yourself on parity..You may be short of funds.. but are not what this topic is about..dear North..

    Take care and God Bless!


    Comment by kaveetaakaul — April 12, 2007 @ 10:53 pm | Reply

  12. A thousand pardons Kaveetaa…


    stage left

    Comment by North — April 13, 2007 @ 6:02 am | Reply

  13. Great piece..thought provoking and evocative!


    Comment by S.Khan — April 15, 2007 @ 9:41 am | Reply

  14. This profitable ‘business’ is not news to me… Down here in Brazil begging is a misdemeanor, although beggars are not much bothered by the police in metros…street dwellers is a reality, and such ppl, usually mentally ill could be considered the real beggars. Just how to know who is a beggar or who is a businessperson? Unless u know who u are giving alms to, better not give it…I also don’t give donations to charity institutions, NGOs I dont know, because they are just another breed of profissional beggars…

    Comment by Moema G. — March 30, 2008 @ 11:40 pm | Reply

  15. “NGOs I dont know, because they are just another breed of profissional beggars…”

    well said..some are truly shady.

    Comment by kaveetaakaul — March 30, 2008 @ 11:43 pm | Reply

  16. Kaveetaakaul, maybe i expressed myself wrongly…I mean charity institutions and NGOs I dont know…of course some of them are serious…like the Red Cross, for instance.

    Comment by Moema G. — March 31, 2008 @ 4:12 am | Reply

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