It pays to beg in Gurgaon!
Begging is on the increase in Gurgaon, a satellite city of malls and multinationals, with a survey finding that growing numbers were joining the ranks as their families found begging more paying than sending them to school.
And these child beggars have been found not only earning large amounts of cash, but also foreign currency which they get from expats and tourists but don't know how to convert into Indian rupees. So they prefer to play with it during their free time, the survey discovered.
The families of about 3,000 beggars are, on an average, earning nearly Rs.20,000 a month from their profession and are not ready to give up their "business", a survey said. Illiterate children of such families are the main sources of their income.
The All India Citizen Alliance for Progress and Development (AICAPD) and Innovation Mobile Schools, in partnership with the JK Business School, Gurgaon, conducted the survey on 6,000 roadside beggars in the age group of 6-14 years in the city.
The survey was conducted Jan 25-Feb 5 in various places in the city, including Metro stations, malls, traffic signals, railway stations and bus stands, where 4,000 girls and 2,000 boys were found begging. Around 95 percent of these children have never been to any school, 80 percent were residing under bridges and near traffic signals and 20 percent came from the nearby Khandsa village.
The survey said the average income per month of each child was nearly Rs.5,000. Many of them sometimes even earned more than Rs.12,000 per month.
"They also have huge amount of foreign currency such as US dollars, euro, dinar, pound but due to illiteracy, they don't know how can they can convert them into Indian rupees. So, they play with them during their leisure time," Innovation Mobile Schools director Sandeep Rajput told IANS.
The study said beggars get foreign currency from tourists passing through the city.
A total of 30 management students (volunteers) and five faculty members took part in the study.
The purpose of the survey was to find out the exact number of migrant roadside beggars in the city and connect them with the right to education.
There were more than 10,000 beggars and most of them were not ready to give up their business.
Children too preferred begging rather than going to school, it found.
Asked about the reason for not going to school, Sunita, a 12-year-old beggar from Rajasthan, smiled and said she wants to study but was busy in begging.
Rajput, who is also the AICAPD founder, said: "Ram Singh, 37, told us that he used to beg in Delhi years ago but left the city after he was falsely booked in a case of theft by police."
"He shifted to Gurgaon after coming out of jail. His six children, including four girls, now indulge in begging."
No beggar family holds any identity proof document, including ration card. Most of them are from Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Around 10 percent of the children were brought by some contractors from rural areas of Bihar and Jharkhand and were pushed into begging. Contractors collect the money from the children in the evening and give Rs.100 to each of them.
(Pradeep Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 21-02-2014)