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Another form of begging

The month of Ramazan sees dramatics changes in the way people behave and not all of them are good. While we are listed as the nation that gives the most to charity and welfare, behaviour that is unacceptable in day to day living is also part of the routine we tend to fall into during this month.

Given that it is a time for fasting, abstinence and general cleansing of the body and mind, our obsession with food borders on gluttony and competing with others on the amount of food we serve at ‘sehri’ and ‘iftari’. Sad but true. That is why prices skyrocket and those in the retail business make hay while the sun shines, so to say. It’s a matter of supply and demand.

The other most noticeable aspect of this month is how begging appears to be one of the best ways to earn money and even those who are not professional beggars take to the streets with palms open, beseeching for alms or trying to sell something. These supplicants – we will call them that instead of beggars — include both men and women, while some of them also make their children follow their lead. They know they can earn quite a lot during this month when people are more than generous.

The woman in the picture is sitting by the roadside in a busy locality, presumably selling what local people use to brush their teeth, ‘miswak’ — and a few other motley odds and ends. Her face is covered, probably to hide her identity in case someone recognizes her! She has bought her two daughters along and they too are subjected to the heat and dust, though they do not appear to be bothered by it — they are busy playing but they add the ‘sympathy’ factor to the act of begging. Most passersby will not usually buy anything – they will give some money and go on, assuaging their conscience and giving the woman a feeling of success in her endeavour of earning in this manner.

Trying to sell something is better than begging outright but it is still not right to indulge in such activity if the person is healthy and worst of all, it is very wrong for children to be subjected to this form of behaviour, particularly so if they are not used to it like the poor children we see begging in markets and other places. They have been doing it since they were carried in the arms of their mother, albeit unknowingly — they know no other life. But the effect of this other form of begging will be disastrous on the physical and mental well being of such children and social welfare organisations as well as TV channels should launch a campaign against it and emphasise how wrong it is.

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