Concealing Hyderabad’s beggars during Ivanka Trump’s visit is insensitive, meaningless
Temporarily moving out from sight underprivileged people who seek alms for a living is not the solution — it’s not even a temporary one. Instead of treating them as eyesores, governments must enable them with tools that can take them away from begging, and help live a better life
The Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which will be held in Hyderabad from November 28 to 30, will see a galaxy of dignitaries, among them Ivanka Trump, the daughter of United States President Donald Trump.
To ensure that the summit, being held in South Asia for the first time, is a success, the authorities are going the extra mile. But they seem to be going about this in a most insensitive manner.
In an order passed last week, the Hyderabad police commissioner banned begging within the city limits till January 7, during which time the capital city will also host the World Telugu Conference and the Indian Science Congress.
The commissioner’s order states that begging at main road junctions is dangerous to the safety of the vehicular traffic and public in general. Now that’s a revelation! What kept the officials from realising this till now? Or, will begging be less dangerous two months from now? The Hyderabad police posted on social media photographs of its efforts to make the city beggar-free.
If the K Chandrashekhar Rao government’s intent was to present a pleasing image of the capital city and the state, its order has managed to do precisely the opposite. Both national and international media were quick to report on the Rao government’s attempts to cover up what it considers eyesores.
An American news reports suggested that the Telangana government took the measure in an attempt to show Ms Trump the capital in the best light possible – and not the slum dog millionaire stereotype that Americans often associate with India.
The Telangana government is not alone in adopting such temporary and ineffective measures. In 2000, Hyderabad cleared beggars off the streets to host the then-US President Bill Clinton. In 2010, to hold the Commonwealth Games, New Delhi erected facades across the capital to shut out slum dwellers from public view. Brazil did it in 2016 and similar moves have been reported in the US.
Such cleansing was also done in Beijing prior to the 2008 Olympics. Clearing beggars off the streets will not address urban poverty. Moving the underprivileged people out of sight is not even a temporary solution. It is one which insults human dignity and tries to mask the real reasons why people are on the streets. The government must enable them with tools that can afford them a livelihood which does not involve begging. For this the root cause must be addressed: give people alternative forms of work so that they will not have to demean themselves by asking others for sustenance.