A national consultation meeting on beggary has favoured prevention and rehabilitation of beggars rather than taking punitive measures against them.
Calling for a centrally-sponsored initiative which states can adopt as per their circumstances, the meeting held at New Delhi recently said the evil of "organised begging racket", especially in cities and religious places, should be curbed.
The meeting, organised by Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, also agreed on the need for awareness generation, better implementation of schemes of poverty alleviation and social security, and for provision of community shelters for the urban homeless, officials in the Ministry said.
Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Mukul Wasnik, who was there in the meeting, said civil society should be encouraged to channelise alms and donations given at religious places etc. through charitable institutions and organisations, rather than to individual beggars.
He also advocated for police training to deal with beggary in a more professional and humane way.
"Answers have to be found out as to why people are sliding into beggary when we have a large number of welfare schemes for almost every vulnerable segment of society," he said.
There was consensus in the meeting which was participated by representatives from the states, academic institutions and NGOs that beggary is a complex issue that needs to be tackled with care and sensitivity.
The Ministry has already written to chief ministers, requesting for basic information about the incidence of beggary and the existing legal and administrative framework in the states to deal with the problem, the officials said.