|Posted : 05 Jan, 2016 22:46:59
Making beggary a thing of the past
Begging, no doubt, is demeaning. Not many people, however, consider this profession a disgrace. It is heart-warming to hear the country's Prime Minister say that this humiliating profession has to be made a thing of the past. Unlike authoritarian and unthinking rulers who thought the problem could be addressed by applying force, the incumbent premier stresses the need for pragmatic rehabilitation programmes. Extreme poverty is not always the cause of poverty. Hauling up beggars away from the city is no solution. The Prime Minister is fully aware of the racket that works from behind the scene to perpetuate begging. There will be a need for busting the den of the racketeers who have turned begging a de facto business by taking away the lion's share of the income from a large number of physically challenged beggars they deploy at strategic points of the capital city and other cities everyday.
The number of people who are forced to begging and do so on their own is not very large. Bringing them under a social safety network is unlikely to pose a daunting challenge at the present level of Bangladesh's economy. But the racket fattening itself on unearned income will not be easy to tame. The reason is plain and simple: it is a racket that prospers on maintaining its links with several government agencies for mutual benefits. The administration will have to show zero tolerance to aberration on the part of the political big brothers, the law enforcement agencies and others involved in the racket.
The initiatives already taken by the government for rehabilitation of beggars have had a positive impact. Building shelter for the homeless proves to be a most useful programme only when the target population also has sustainable livelihoods. Employment opportunities alone cannot be sufficient if their skills too are not taken into consideration. Skill development through imparting training in a systematic manner can make a discernible difference. It is good to know that the government has also taken the bold step to allocate loans for such rehabilitated people. Considering them credit-worthy is a big step and if they can make good use of the loans, there is no reason why social pauperisation cannot be effectively stemmed.
The bottom line is to ensure social and economic justice for all segments of society. To that end, there is a need for redistribution of wealth among the poor class of people. Turning begging hands into working hands calls for social and economic reforms. Let the government be bold enough to press for such reforms in order to bring about a poise and ensure equitable dispensation which in the long run can give society peace. Social and economic disparities and polarisation have thrown nations into turmoil across the globe. Bangladesh is at a take-off stage for stronger economy in the near future. It is the best time for it to address the disparities that keep different classes of people in a society apart. It will be one of the greatest achievements in the country's history if it can do away with beggary.