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Sixty-five And Still Begging

Sixty-five And Still Begging

December 17, 2012

Is this the India that we want to leave behind?

My teenage daughter said to me the other day, “Mom, there are these little children in front of my college who are often begging for money. Instead of giving them money, I buy them cream buns…”. I was at a loss for words, what could I possibly say to her? Don’t feed beggars - that would only create more beggars? I had tried that, for a few years at least, and nothing changed. So I went back to being charitable. I simply said to her: good that you do that.

The conversation did not end there though. She was agitated that little children have to be out on the streets begging; that their parents are callous enough to procreate without the means for supporting them. Then as a parent I had to address a deeper issue. So I said, you are able to talk about these ‘ideas’ because you are educated. Ideas are in the realm of thought and thought is a luxury only the well-to-do can afford. For the poor, the only instinct is survival. Procreation is only a by-product of their survival instincts. In their world, there is no thought about the implications of bringing a child into this world.

And there are plenty of poor people in India, perhaps more than anywhere else in the world. This is the India that we are leaving behind to our children. Could we have done better? Where did we fail? These are questions that plague many of us. Is the government responsible for not being able to address poverty even after 65 years of independence? Or are we as citizens responsible for electing successive ineffective governments to power? Are educated Indians escapists who never come forward to get involved in politics? Are NRIs even worse escapists who have fled the country to go enrich other economies with their skills and aptitudes while their homeland rots? Or are they in a better position to give back to society than Indians back home are?

How have other more developed nations fixed these problems when they had them? Europe and America have gone through devastating wars and come out to restore their cities, villages and their economies? How did Japan outride nuclear disasters and still managed to rise as a developed economy? How do Jews and other races that have been through oppression regained resilience to rewrite success stories? Is there something called a national character?

There are also metaphysical questions. Is charity a screwed up perverted way of self-aggrandizement? That it only helps us to not face the tremendous amount of guilt that’s on our conscience for being amongst the more fortunate? By doling out the occasional amount are we only worsening and perpetuating the problem?

Am I rambling? I don’t think so. I am only searching for answers to these and many other questions. And I hope I am not alone.

Photo credit: Greg Younger


  • longchamp
    19.12.12 07:22 AM
    Thus, our shelves result in filled with issues that we take pleasure in.
  • Rajpriya
    18.12.12 11:06 AM
    You have a great Teeny there. There is a reason for every good thing in this world. If you take the processes involved in producing great products, the manufacturers put into use their education, experience, and expertise and plan it so well that the result is never accidental.

    Therefore, I believe God was not educated, had neither experience nor expertise when he went about producing humans and that’s why the few that are good is just accidental. We cannot send God to an adult school can we?

    As a corrective measure I suggest we standardize the way children are produced in India (An ISO = Indian Standards Organization). Prohibit or ban substandard production methods of Indians as the first step. However we need legislation to pass such laws. The present legislators are all people who were caught up as rejects in the manufacturers quality control system and rejects ending up being politicians instead of scrap material, the miseries of India.

    One simple fault in any production process brings disastrous results and the process has to start from zero.

    As an NRI I feel horribly guilty to have gone in search of greener pastures instead of staying back to suffer like the millions. We could always find someone to blame.

    All I can do now is to help set new standards the way Indians are produced. A problem ignored is a problem multiplied.
    17.12.12 11:15 PM
    @ Susmita

    All these questions and no answers after all these years. That's bad, don't you think?

    I blame all the educated working housewifes for spending too much time on polemics and voting bad bureaucrats and not doing enough to point at the problems which our nations men are ignoring for all these years.

    I also like the way our homeland citizen blame all the NRI's for their problems that have grown over the years and point the finger at NRI's that we are some what responsible for their plight. I think this is same as me saying that my neighbour's cat is responsible for my life. I'm gone go and kill that bastard cat now. :)


    PS nicely written Susmita as always.
  • Krittika Sen
    Krittika Sen
    17.12.12 08:10 PM
    Nothing can be done till our Government takes initiative. Or until a powerful person does. I'm being a pessimist but that's the truth.
  • Prasanna Raghavan
    Prasanna Raghavan
    17.12.12 07:17 PM
    'Is there something called a national character?'

    I should say, from my understanding, yes, but unfortunately India does not have one. It has only upper-classes and lower-classes which can be again subdivided into various strands and stripes as it may pleases one.

    You told your daughter ''Ideas are in the realm of thought and thought is a luxury only the well-to-do can afford. For the poor, the only instinct is survival. Procreation is only a by-product of their survival instincts. In their world, there is no thought about the implications of bringing a child into this world.''.

    this is exactly what i mean, we and them. Are you sure this is true that those people cannot think because they are poor.

    These kind of characterization about us and them, so long as they find place in the thinking and the writing of Indians, how can we have a national character.

    Yes, those people who have managed to have that forged ahead;)
  • umesh dani
    umesh dani
    17.12.12 10:25 AM
    this is a part of life.picture shown is one of the type of begging.
    what you will call for corruption,taking hafta,taking donations,begging for votes.
    in this world every creature is a beggar.
    some really beg for their livelihood and hunger.
    and other beg for greediness.
    it is not only in india. but all the countries have beggars, developed as well as undeveloped.
    now it is time to think why this situation has taken place? and how to eradicate the same by influencing people of india and so called NRIs?

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