In God’s Own Country there is no place for child beggars – or atleast that’s the way it looks for the capital. Like many other cities in India, Thiruvanthapuram was a city not alien to child beggars who are a major source of income for the ‘beggar mafias’ who smuggle hundreds of children from nearby villages and towns. In Trivandrum, the problem was very acute and young children from villages in neighbouring Tamil Nadu begging on the streets was a common sight. It is estimated that around 800 beggars earn about Rs 2 lakh on a single day which amounts to Rs. 9 crore every year.

It is likely that many cities will follow suit in such steps towards eradicating beggars. Such initiatives are indeed commendable if the rehabilitation of these children are taken care of with the involvement of NGOs and social welfare organisations as it happened in Thiruvananthapuram.

However, the over-enthusiasm of officials and the government to declare a city as ‘beggar-free’ or ‘child-beggar free’ could make these children end up in far-worse living conditions. In the pursuit of bringing in foreign investment and to create hype about Indian cities, let us not treat them as ‘unpleasant sightings’ and work towards rehabilitating children like Pooja who lost touch with her parents after a beggar kidnapped her. Please help Pooja find her parents.

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