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Hyderabad; On Seasonal Beggars

by on August 16, 2011

During the month of Ramadan (or Ramzan as in popular Indian term), population of beggars reach its zenith in Third World Cities that inhabited by large number of Moslem population. Citizens of major countries all across Indonesia must be familiar with this seasonal phenomenon.

This is apparent as well in Hyderabad, an Indian metropolis with 40% Moslem population. Beggars flock in Charminar, the city center in which Jama Masjid (great mosque) resides. Beggars from suburban and rural area create nuisances at the arena of seasonal street vendors’ space. It is easy to spot them considering specific fashion codes administered by Moslem community. Soon after the crowd was gone, the beggars find free accommodation on city pavement.

First, the idea of such philanthropic phenomenon is closely related with zakat fitrah, a religious doctrine by which Moslem donate an amount of money equals to 2.3 kg weights of rice–at the latest before the people perform the Salat Eid finished at the beginning of the next month. Second, Moslem population tend to spend more expenditures during Ramadan season, providing more income to the beggars.

It is difficult to be at peace with this phenomenon though. Particularly when the beggars are insisting to the point when it becomes offensive and annoying by approaching with physical contacts; touching and pulling shirts. A slum dweller at Charminar told me that such acts would only taint the image of Moslem community.

Proponents of anti-beggars consider this phenomenon as exploiting charitable sentiments. Urban local governments even provide special task force to prevent this and deemed begging as illegal. An awareness program is designed to prevent citizens to trickle their money to the beggars.

However, this phenomenon keeps occurring. An informal underground network sustain it. A beggar in Jakarta might receives minimum of 10 USD per day (while a typical mechanic receives 5 USD per day) and, at the end of the day, the organizers cut at least 70% of their income. This phenomenon is a contemporary form of slavery; trafficking victims  into an organized business of poverty.

There is an urgent need to counter this intricate business and it is a grave homework for sure.

From → Hyderabad, India

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