The Curse Of Poverty - 4

The Date : Today - The 5th Of August, 2014
Place 1 : Kalyan Railway Station, Foot Overboard 8:10 AM
Place 2 : Kalyan Railway Station, Snack Counter 3:30 PM
Place 3 : Kalyan Railway Station, Auto Line 18:30 PM

These are the thoughts that flow through my head on some occasions when I see a beggar {not always, to be frank}. It may seem disjointed, but these are the thoughts that have streamed through my brain yet again today... as always, I document these thoughts in "The Curse Of Poverty Series". This is the 4th Article in this series.

It was just another day for me; just another day. It was just another day when I was rushing to catch my local train to my office; as is usual in Mumbai, it was rush time, raining hard - and there was a genuine fear that if I miss my local it meant being late by a considerable period, given the possibility of stoppage and cancellations - or delays. I was {unusually for me} almost running, when I was halted in my tracks. 

An old lady had spread her "padar" in front of me, looking for alms. I was about to brush her off, but something stopped me. I dont know what it was, but I was halted in my tracks. I looked at her, and recalled that I routinely spend far more on personal effects... I can spend 100+ for my pleasure, but cant spare even a single rupee for the needy. Just that thought came to me, and I automatically opened up and gave her some money. I wasnt much, but it was a rupee. It was several rupees - enough for her to get a vada paav. 

I was on a market visit in Kalyan, when I was snacking up. I saw a young person who could not eat for want of money. I dont know why, but I asked the shopkeeper to give him a puri-bhaaji worth Rs 10. This was around sometime in the afternoon. In the evening, when standing in line, the whole line was approached by a beggar, who wanted something to eat. He was hungry, you could see it in his eyes. I wanted to give him something as well, so I gave him a 2-Re coin. I wasnt much, but it was something. 

It was when I was handing him the coin, it occurred to me more powerfully than ever before - that we face an impossible task in front of us. It is not possible for me to give to everyone who approaches me; and this thought drove me to tears. I was literally crying, my eyes filled with tears at the desperation felt by the poor people. But more than that, I was driven to years - literal tears - by the abject apathy of the people around me. And by the memory of the way I normally try and ignore these people, despite feeling a gnawing pain and sickening feeling in my heart and my conscience whenever I spot the hopelessness around me.

Fact of the matter is that I too, just like the people around me, ignore or look away from such people. Why? Because it hurts.  It hurts, damnit. It pinches, and takes away your sleep. I spend a kings ranson on my Headphones, my Smartphone, my visits to my home, my food, my family - it is always me - me - me - me - me. Always me. Is this wrong - no it isnt; I work for my family and myself, for our future. But surely, surely, I can spare the occasional 10-Rupee note for someone needy. That wont hurt, will it? 

I wont claim lofty idealistic claims like "My heart felt nice on giving" or such sentimental drivel. Truth be told, my heart was heavy even after giving, as I realised I cannot do anything of any real value, neither can I give to everyone who approaches me. Truth be told, there was even a fleeting thought in my mind : "I did something nice today" - which takes away any credit that I might deserve : true giving means you do it out of your feeling for the destitute- not for any good-feel for yourself. 

You can claim that these people are great actors, they are great cons out to relieve you of your money. You can also claim that these people are in the hands of evil gangs who force them to beg, and then take away the money - a syndicated begging gang. To these people : I have the following observations... {I freely admit to being guilty of this behaviour as well... }

Scenario - 1: They are part of a Gang
Fine, you dont give them money. Are these - aah - gang members rich? Of Course they are. They have a 3-story house on Worli Seaface, A Mercedes E-Class, bank balance of 75 Crores. They eat 3-course meals 3 times a day. Of course, they dont need the money...

Ya, Right. I stand corrected. These "gang members" are super-duper rich and can finance our budget deficit - the entire 5.5% fiscal deficit. So right all of you are!

Scenario - 2: They are part of a Gang and are not rich
If, supposing (Of course, I have already granted that some of these - aah -  poor people - are Ambanis, Tatas, Birlas, Premjis and Mittals who live deprived lives cause they l-o-v-e to. This current scenario is just purely whimsical.... so bear with me)...

Now where was I? Aah, yes. Supposing.

Let us consider the impossible supposition that some of them are - shall we say, 0.0000001% of them - are genuinely poor, and do this since they are forced by the "Gangs"

You dont give them money. What do you think happens? Kyaa samjhe ho- Gabbar bahut Khus hogaa? Sabaasi Dega? Or is this highly "praiseworthy" moralistic and legally correct behaviour going to cause them some trouble? If they are a Gang, do you think they will be treated well? 

Thanks be to God that there are some people who give these criminals - oh, yes - criminals on a scale greater than our beloved scam worthy netas and crooks - some alms. God Bless them - whoever gives these criminals against society some alms. It saves them from beatings and torture. 

But then, why should anyone care? Begging is illegal. They are criminals. Right?

Scenario - 3: Some of them are genuinely poor...
Dont worry, No rant here. Just a very simple task. 

Identify which beggar is the "Mafia Ganglord" and Beggar-Mafia member - and who is a genuine person in need 100% of the time. Each time, every time. 

Easy, isnt it? These criminals against society have printed or tattooed on their foreheads in large english capitals (Remember? E-Class Mercedes, Worli House - so they are educated in Public Schools)

There, you interrupted me again. These criminals against society bear large tattoos in english capitals like so: "I AM A BEGGAR MAFIA MEMBER". 

Dont give these guys the alms. Give them to the rest. Just make sure you look at the forehead and read. 

By the way, how much do you give in bribes? How much food do you throw away?  What do you spend on youtube vidoes through your 3G connection? How many times have you purchased something you dont need? How many times you have spent thousands on partying? How many times have you spent on luxirues? What is your daily expense? And we cant spare even 1 Rupee from this? No one is preventing you from spending your hard-earned cash on your luxuries - that expenditure drives so many households and businesses, and is vital in a healthy economy. Cant we spare 10 Rupees 4-5 times a month to give a Vadaa Paav to a needy and hungry child? 

Let me take average per capita income of 1800 dollars of India. That is 99000 Rupees per year - or 8000 rupees per month. (And most quorans will be well above this, of that I am 100% sure). 1 Rupee is 0.0010101% of the average income of an Indian; and 1 Rupee is what we usually give. 

My word, what a loss. What an Indian-Budget Breaking Loss. All this for all of 0.0010101%. Wow. I can finance the US budget in that. 


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