Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Begging at traffic signals

Begging at traffic signals is one of the saddest sights that visitors to India have to endure. But like all systems, these traffic signal junkies are part of a system too, the world of organised begging. While thats one part of the story, these beggars are usually "employed" by someone (usually a small time local thug or police) to whom they have a pay a fee to beg at that traffic signal. So, while they are destitutes, etc., many of them are not as badly off as they seem nor is it that they dont have other options. This, is simply the easy way out. Play on peoples emotions and make some money. While it is sad that our government, police have not been able to tackle this, on our part, we should not give alms to these beggars. Observe the way they go about and you can see it is all about economics.

Given an average signal time of a minute or so, they have to maximise their revenue from all the cars, bikes and rickshaws in that time span. So, their first target is the snazzier cars or the ones with a foreign tourist inside. Cars driven by drivers are the next target (but if its only a driver and believe me, they know a driver when they see one, its ignored). If not, they turn their attention to the smaller cars. Cabs (like in Mumbai) are also targetted, but in Bangalore (or its 16th century equivalent name), they are not. Autos are ignored and a few seconds spent scanning people on bikes. In the span of a few seconds they know if they will get anything at all.

So, the best thing to do is to dismiss them with a wave of the hand. They understand that it is a waste of time trying their luck here and they go off. Its an unwritten code and economics that if you signal that you wont pay them, they ignore you and move off!

6 comments:

ram said...

I dont think its such a ludicrous industry to be run as a syndicate, atleast in smaller cities. And whats wrong with them doing their analysis. Banning or controlling them would be just a way of hiding the truth. We are better off, if we keep seeing them.

exmind said...

How about outsourcing panhandling organization? I mean we have some really cruel corporations in the states, I am sure one of them...maybe even a startup could take over and get the homeless and poor of India and then the world organized.

http://www.outsourcingsux.com

Anonymous said...

Some day, you will have "blogging" at traffic signals.

Shivaji said...

Is offering visual comfort to tourists more important than allowing beggers a meal, even if they are acting as a syndicate?

Neelakantan said...

Visual comfort is a small aspect of it, perhaps the smallest. But, by not paying a beggar, any beggar, you are contributing by not encouraging begging. If everyone of us started paying beggars, you will see the number of beggars increase. Look at any place where there people pay easily, temples for instances and why there a lot more beggars there? Simple, because it is easy money there. The least we can do, in any case, is to not encourage begging.

Rishi said...

Perfect. I hope more and more people see the truth and diminish the amount of begging going around. I never realized that many others have posted this before me. Here's my post: http://fryol.net/?p=47