It seems that beggars are made, not born.
An informal academy for wannabe beggars in Rohini in west Delhi is training initiates in this profession. The training, imparted with an eye to the coming Common-wealth Games, is in foreign languages, since foreigners are considered good catches.
“More than one lakh foreigners will be in the city during the period. Even if one beggar earns Rs 150-200 per day, you can understand the turnover for us,” said Vijay Babli, who claims to be leader of over 1,200 beggar families living in Rohini’s Lal Quarter.
In preparation for this expected windfall, the beggars have set up a night school in a clearing in their colony.
Bright children are taught how to say phrases like, “I am an orphan, I have not eaten for days, I am ill, have no money for medicine, please help me in the name of God”, says Raju Sansi, who claims to be head tutor at the school.
Patni, an eight year-old girl who has never been to school, can speak English, French and Spanish, thanks to the makeshift school.
She is one of the 45 students at the school. Practical lessons are also imparted in sessions in places like Connaught Place.
Real foreign currency notes are shown to the children so they can recognise them, says Patlu, who trains children in Katputli Colony in west Delhi’s Patel Nagar.
The beggar children usually get a free pick up and drop from their work locations.
So whether Delhi is ready for the Games or not, its beggars will be.