When the distances are unchallenging, I prefer to traverse them on my own feet. Last Saturday, there wasn’t much to do at work and the usual afternoon blues didn’t come knocking. But I thought of taking a cycle-rickshaw ride back home from the shop which keeps me in high spirits. When the tricycle stopped at the traffic intersection, those able-bodied but dirty-clothed beggars approached me. The rickshaw-puller attempted to shoo them away motioning his right hand. It was then that I noticed his missing left-arm. A few weeks ago the auto-rickshaw driver who dropped me home had legs, but they didn’t move.

They didn’t make it to the traffic intersections, religious places or busy pavements. They are good at their jobs and don’t let their disabilities come in their way. Why do the others? We give alms and feel good. We’ve done our bit to add to the credit column of the heavenly ledger. But have done the recipient of our benevolence no good. Alms kill the urge to work. It’s easy money and there is also an organised mafia out there coordinating all this.

Begging in a majority of the cases is not a necessity but a menace. Many weeks ago a friend forwarded me an email which said that a particular beggar in Bombay earned on an average Rs. 1000 a day. Whenever beggars came begging at our door, my mother would make them do some chores before she gave them anything. I thought that why does she not give them something and let them go? Now I understand.

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