- How to remove beggary.
There is no society which has no beggars. From the earliest time to modern, the question of poverty and unemployment has exercised the minds of all thinkers and rulers. The state of beggary is a common feature of social life. People become beggars either because they are without resources or because they suffer from loss of limbs and organs. These are the two most common causes of beggary. Of course, there are false beggars, actors of the role of beggars. There are also, professional beggars and hereditary beggars. That is to say, many people employ themselves as beggars when they find no employment. They levy a collective tax called charity and they collect it most efficiently. And there are born beggars chose inheritance is the begging bowl. But these types of beggars apart, the true cause of beggary is two-fold poerty and loss of limbs and organs. Under the latter class come the blind, the deaf and dumb, the armless regiments that march our streets and market-places, day in and day out.
In Pakistan the beggars are unlimited number. Many causes operate in keeping beggary a going concern. First, there is our proverbial poverty. Pakistan is a rich country were poor people live. Second, we are a very charitable people. Our religion and morality enjoin giving of alms as the surest way of reserving a seat in heaven. We not only give charity, we positively encourage the custom of giving it. Third, blindness is more widespread in Pakistan than elsewhere.
Visitors to our country have often described it as a land .. having cities of beggars. The dust is natural, but beggars are not so natural. The western tourists have reason to be impressed with the sight of beggars. In their own lands they have removed beggary by legislation. They have reclaimed beggars from want and poverty and given, them a respectable place in society. They have taught their blind to read and write and they have given them economic security and social prestige. They, in short, solved the problem of beggary and therefore they are struck with its prevelance in our country. We, too, should remove beggary. Beggary is the biggest mistake we, as a society, have committed. The sooner we correct it, the better for all, beggars and masters alike.
Let us look at the evils of beggary. They are very glairing. Nature did not mean her children to be beggars. That is why she gave them eyes and hands feet and brain. We are not, for the moment considering the fact of limbless beggars. They are not our mistakes. Perhaps the mistake is Nature’s, and we cannot as yet teach Nature, even though scientists claim to conquer her. Anyway, we are considering now the evils of beggary arising from human agencies. So we say that beggars are not born but made. In this sense they are no poets, though poets have praised and sung them, probably because poets are potential beggars in our community. But whatever it is, beggars are not born. Society imposes beggary in several ways. We mean society as it is evolved and is going on now-a-day. If God made men, men made beggars. How? By simply permitting some few peopleto amass fortunes and distribute misfortunes among the many. That is to say, by the system of capitalism. This system today is being replaced by the ideals of socialists and other anticapitalistic plans for a Welfare State. If these plans succeed, there will be no beggars.
There will always be people in all communities who will have to depend upon others for their maintenance. These people are the blind, the dumb and otherwise disabled unfortunates. But in a wellordered society, these will not be left to beg. They will be given selfrespecting jobs by adequate training for independent earning. The unfortunates will make their own fortunes in a rationally orderd society.
Beggary could be removed in several ways. First by legislation; secondly, by charity; thirdly by education. The West has had its Vagrancy Acts ever since the fifteenth century, or even earlier. We know that Elizabethan England had such laws. At any rate, today in the West there are laws prohibiting public begging.
Charity is the traditional system of reducing the sufferings of beggars. But charity is a double-edged weapon. It may help buggars too well, so that beggary will be encouraged rather than checked. This is precisely what is happening in our own society. The beggars know that it pays to beg, and so they beg to be paid. Some there are who say that beggars should continue to beg. They say that people become kind-hearted by giving alms. But this is a cruel kind of kindness. It is selfish, too. You impose. beggary because you wish to be kind-hearted! What a perversion!
Some millionaires, usually mill-owners, establish orphanages and other institutions for helping beggary. But this, too, is not a happy way of helping beggars. The rich may feel they have done a good thing by establishing such homes for the disabled. But housing the disabled is not enough. They should be trained and taught to become good citizens.
Therefore, the best way of reducing and removing beggary is education. We must stop people who think in terms of beggary. It is not physical poverty which is objectionable. It is mental and moral poverty which breeds the worst forms of beggary. If people think that begging is not only permissible but also desirable, there can be do stopping of it. The beggars adopt begging as a profession; the givers of alms regard giving as an act of piety in such a society begging will become the most natural thing. It is this mentality which needs education. If we teach men that begging is bad; if, we can conceive them that beggars live upon other people’s earnings, we will have prepared the ground for removing beggary. The next step should be to find ways and means of employing beggars in socially useful jobs and professions.
All this, of course, is meant for the able-bodied who take to begging as a job. There are lakhs of such people in Pakistan, and we can mobilize’ them to serve the country in our Five-Year Plans. It is a good thing that our Faqirs have already decided to join the task of building up our economy.
Finally, begging cannot be removed overnight. It requires time, patience and wise leadership. Let us hope that we will be able to solve this social problem in the course of our Five-Year Plans. If people say that we might become uncharitable by removing the objects of charity, the reply is that charity begins at home. That is to say, we can become kind and humane first towards our own near and dear ones. Indeed, we do this, without knowing it. To be kind to others is a second duty, though not a secondary one. We are not kind when we. permit begging so that we may go to heaven. This is being cruel and selfish. There are a hundred desirable ways of being charitable. To give alms to able-bodied people is, whether we know it or not, the worst kind of disservice we can do to ourselves and we should put a check on.