The moment your car comes to a stop at a traffic signal or you park it in a market and take the fateful decision to stay in the car while your family shops around, you are swarmed from all sides by shabbily dressed beggars looking as despicable as they could manage. It spookily resembles a scene from one of those zombie movies. Ever wonder why beggary is fast becoming one of the most common professions in this country?

No, it’s not because our President and his cronies are the biggest champions of it. Nice try but I don’t think that’s the reason. The reason is simple. People choose beggary as a source of income because that’s what it is….A source of income. We could spend hours discussing this menace but wouldn’t change our own habits. I’ve seen hundreds of examples where people would dish out some change for every moron who sprays them with a couple of “Meri bacchiyan jawan hain, maan beemar hai” and a few “Allah ke waastey, Allah tujhay hajj karaye” but these same apparent philanthropists would not even look at the poor souls who are actually selling something. Half a second after that old woman with matchboxes approaches them, they respond with a matter-of-fact “Nahi chahiye Ama Jee!”

Have we ever thought of the message such an attitude conveys. It shows that whereas we are not willing to pay a hardworking individual in return for something, we readily reward the one who is begging and selling nothing but his self-respect. It shows that we are too silly to see that every rupee we place in a begging hand is a slap on the face of those who are trying to earn by the sweat of their brow. It shows that we are embarrassed because we have money and feel like Hatim Tai distributing infinitesimal portions of it among the beggars. It shows that we don’t know (or don’t care) about our values, religion or common sense.

So here’s what I think. If we want to put an end to beggary, STOP ENCOURAGING IT! Now how hard is that to understand? When a profession stops paying, it will die its own sad death! And by the way, the same goes for corruption. We keep shouting that bribery is destroying our country and keep forgetting that if we stop offering bribes, no one can take them by force. Easier said than done? Of course, as I have said before, everything is easier said than done. Except procrastination. So let’s forget about beggary and corruption. We’ll do something about them later.

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