“Nobody chooses to beg”, this idiom has been associated with beggars and panhandlers for as long as one can remember. In India, begging is as common as marriages, you can find both anywhere. In fact, a general consensus report of the year 2011 concluded that there are a staggering 3.7 lakh beggars in the nation which meant that for every lakh citizens about 30 were begging on the street. You look at them and sympathize with their plight but looks can be deceiving, and many of the these folks could be classified as con artists with shady backgrounds. In fact, some street beggars and panhandlers living in India have found fame for wrong reasons, that is for their lavish lifestyle and wealth. Yes, not the words you would associate with a freeloader, but read on and you’d be convinced otherwise.
Mumbai dreams accomplished- the begging way
Mumbai is often called the city of dreams, a place where you can think and achieve big, provided you work hard. And by the looks of it, the beggars there seem to take this ideology to heart. Look at Krishna Kumar Gite, this “celebrity” beggar can be easily spotted around the Charni Road region and makes quite a killing asking for alms. According to sources, Mr. Gite makes on an average 1500 rupees every day and even owns a flat of his own in Nallasopara. But such is his dedication to his profession, most of his money matters are dealt by his brother, seeing that he is too busy making it.
Then there is Sambhaji who begs on the streets of Khar. Although making a “meager” thousand rupees a day(on average), Sambhaji has quite the real estate portfolio. He owns a flat in Virar and two more houses in his hometown of Solapur, and also a piece of land to go with it, because, as you know, financial security!
But none of these two men hold a candle to 49 year old Bharat Jain. Mr. Jain owns two flats- valued around 70 lakh in Parel, a shop he has leased for about 10,000 per month and earns a running income of approximately 75,000 a month. Quite the entrepreneur you might say, except for the fact that Mr. Jain’s day job is begging!
The swindling sarees
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It isn’t just men who seem to have made a fortune out of begging. Sarvati Devi from Patna is probably one of the most famous beggars in all of India, and certainly the most famous female one. Featured in national dailies, she owns a beautiful home in the state Capital and pays around 3,000 rupees as insurance premium every month. Her day job? Begging on trains that arrive in Patna. In her own words “It’s a fun travelling on trains free of cost. I board any train and beg till I reach my destination”
And then there is 60 year old Laxmi Das from Kolkatta, who was even featured on an international blog. She started her begging career in 1964 and learnt one of the most basic financial advices of life: save for an uncertain tomorrow. Her exact fortunes aren’t disclosed but for a woman who was featured and interviewed on the BBC, it surely can’t be something to sneeze about.
Illusions of life
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Nothing in life is what it seems. The beggars of India provide a prime example to this statement. They live a fabricated existence by deceiving the masses. Is it right or wrong? This should be left to individual opinions, but moral authority aside, this is clearly not the correct way to lead a righteous life. The jury is out.