By definition, the word ‘begging’ refers to ask someone earnestly or humbly for something.
In the past 50 years or so, the usage of the word ‘begging’ has seen to have an unprecedented increase due to the rise of other social problems like-
Origin In India.
Beggary is an age-old social phenomenon in India. In the medieval and earlier times, begging was considered to be an acceptable occupation which was embraced within the traditional social structure.
Many religions have prescribed begging as the only acceptable means of support for certain classes of adherents, including that of Hinduism, Sufism of Islam, Buddhism, and Jainism, typically to provide a way for certain adherents to focus exclusively on spiritual development without the possibility of becoming caught up in worldly affairs.
Eg: Religious ideals of ‘Bhiksha’ in Hinduism, ‘Zakat’ in Islam and ‘Charity’ in Christianity besides others promote alms-giving
Laws governing begging in India
In India, there is no central law which penalizes begging. Although, 22 states (including few Union Territories) have their anti-begging laws. The Act which functions as the derivative figure for all the state anti-begging law is Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959.
The Power Of The Police To Arrest Beggars?
- As per the anti-begging laws of various states in India, an authorized Police officer has the power to arrest without a warrant any person who is found begging. If a person is found begging inside a private property, he can only be arrested on a formal complaint by the owner of the property.
- After arresting, it is the duty of the Police officer to send the arrested beggar to court.
- A beggar arrested is required to be kept in a certified institution as prescribed by the state government.
- If the court is convinced that the person accused was involved in begging, appropriate punishment will be given by the court.
Begging has been addressed as a rapidly increasing social problem which is a cause for grave concern in developing countries.
The problem arises since beggars constitute a large number of unutilized human resources, ultimately acting as a drag upon the existing resources of the society in general.
What Can We Do?
But as the citizens of this country, it is our moral responsibility to stop this menace and the best way is to stop giving alms.
India’s beggary laws are a throwback to the centuries-old European vagrancy laws which instead of addressing the socio-economic issues make the poor criminally responsible for their position.
India as a nation needs to think for its begging population. With the nation aspiring to achieve world standards in every field socio-economic measures are needed to curb the begging problem in India. The solution calls for a comprehensive programme and reorientation of the existing programmes.
Philanthropic approach to beggar problem should be replaced by therapeutic and rehabilitative work.