For a number of child beggars in the city, begging is a part-time job since they also manage to do street-vending and ragpicking. More than 57% child beggars stated this in a survey conducted by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR).
Even as police hint at an organised racket, this study on such minors reveals a sorry tale as 80% children were forced into begging by their parents. NGOs, however, pointed out that these people might not be their parents as there is no documentary proof to suggest that. Children involved in begging told the workers that they were beaten by the police if they begged and by their families if they didn’t.
Most of them couldn’t afford three meals a day and 50% of them were addicted to substance abuse. “It is a significant observation that 56.9% child beggars in addition to begging were also involved in other activities for earning. They would spend only 3-4 hours begging and spend their remaining time in other activities. Ragpicking was the most popular occupation followed by street-vending. In this study we came across some children who admitted that they were involved in petty criminal activities such as pick-pocketing,” the report released by DCPCR said.
According to the report, earnings of the children varied from less than 30 to over 250 per day and most of them tend to give either all or most of their earnings to parents/caregivers, keeping only 5-20 for snacks or transport.
The study undertook a rapid headcount survey to assess the number of beggars in Delhi and conducted in depth interviews of 605 such children.
“This one-of-a-kind study has been undertaken for the first time and will help the government to chalk out plans and address the issue of children begging. This study was done in a systematic manner wherein it took nine months to interview 605 children who were begging. A retired professor of Delhi University (social work department) has carried this out with a team of other surveyors,” said Arun Mathur, chairperson of DCPCR.
During the study, places were identified where begging is rampant including religious places, railway stations, under flyovers, traffic signals among others.
“The study covered all 11 districts of Delhi and was undertaken in three phases and interviews were done in three phases —morning, afternoon and evening to get a clear picture. We hope the government will take note of our study and recommendations and will be able to deal with the issue in a systematic manner,” Mathur added.
Reasons for begging varied from family profession/survival/poverty to funding healthcare and earning something extra for personal and family use. As per the study, time spent by children on begging ranged from 1-12 hours. The children also revealed different methods of begging.