Begging in IndiaBegging in India can be very confronting and sometimes a bit alarming so it is worth giving a bit thought about it before you go.
The huge increase in Indias economy due to technologies and industry is having a great impact on many people in India. Their wealth is rising, they can buy a car, they have stability and a higher standard of living, great. But unfortunately this big change has affected an incredibly small proportion of the Indian population leaving the rest of the country in dire poverty which has inevitably caused a few begging problems, some more serious than others.
Travel tips for dealing with Begging in India
It can be incredibly sad being in India surrounded by beggars but it's so true that you can't help them all. You can give a ten to one child and 3 seconds later you'll 30 kids at your feet.
The poverty is really in your face right from the moment you arrive at the airport. A man with lepracy was my first experience, he popped out from underneath a motorway bridge and shoved his bandgaged hand in through the window while the car was at a red light. It was a shock and then glad that the light soon turned green!
It can be very disheartening constantly saying no to hundreds of worthy people and it doesn't help that they are incredibly persistant and don't take no for an answer, often following you down the street.
You really can't help them all but if you must there are a few guidelines to follow:
Giving to beggarsIf you really must then it is advised that you only give 5 - 10 rupees to beggars. The problem is that if you give to one beggar you will shortly be mobbed.
It's best to give to those that perform a service, like cleaning your shoes, singing and dacing. Also the elderly and crippled are a good cause. Always avoid giving to women with babies as they are usually borrowed of someone else.
Only give to beggars when you are leaving a place rather than arriveing especially at train stations where you may have to wait for hours for your train while being surroinded by beggars.
Of course it's up to you whom you give your money too, sometimes you see such sad case's of begging in India you can't help but get your wallet out but money rarely helps, at most it eases the pain for a short time.
Some scams to watch out for
Mumbai in particular has some very clever scams to watch out for. If what is happening feels a bit dodgy then it probably is, here is one that Im sure I fell for:
A young child or elderly woman (usually) approach you wanting some food - note not money. Maybe some baby milk or somethingm, who could say no. You'll be ushered along to stall or street vendor nearby where you can buy the required product.. of courts the rather than paying the RRP you be charged some huge amount of money.
It's also not uncommon for beggarss to actually rent a small child or baby from its mother - I guess to give their begging more crediibity, Rent-a-Baby.....
Poverty in India
If you've ever been to India then you'll know that the poverty in India is hard to comprehend and hard to explain. The scale and desperation is unimaginable.
Volunteer in India
Sadly, with regards to begging in India, there is often more than meets the eye. What the eye sees is a mother and child desperate for some food and a bit of love, what lies beneath the exterior is a huge network of gangs. No one is denying the that the poverty is real and the people are in dire need but there is something seriously untoward about what goes on behind the scenes, some say it's sick.