Beggary: Givers can be choosers

By Manzoor ChandioSept 10, 2007

THERE were times when left-leaning students used to hang posters in their hostel rooms inscribed with a famous saying of Latin American liberation theologian Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara.
He said: “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”
Unfortunately, the city of Karachi has very few saints offering food to the destitute and even less people asking why so many people have resorted to beggary.
In 2002, the city district government had launched a crackdown against vagrancy and arrested more than 3,000 “professional beggars,” who included women and children.
The then city nazim Niamatullah Khan had said: “The action against them had become necessary because the professional beggars had been causing inconvenience to people at the roundabouts and other places besides creating other social evils.”
Since then, however, the number of beggars has risen sharply and they can be found everywhere, begging along the city roads and streets.
Come the holy month of Ramazan, Karachians witness thousands of differently-abled people (not just the disabled or handicapped or special persons, mind you), from old men and women to little children, begging in markets and alongside almost all the roads and streets of the city.
Among them we can easily see some drug addicts and even perfectly healthy persons mobbing motorists and knocking on their car windows for alms.
They also create hurdles in the smooth flow of traffic.
Some women beggars even carry their babies under the scorching sun, putting their lives in danger.
They become a source of irritation to the wealthy elite as they ruin the nation’s image in the world.
Hailing from underdeveloped or deprived areas (not the backward areas) of the country, these Pakistanis have become professional beggars.
Many of them even come from city slums and katchi abadis.Here comes to mind the city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) where no man, woman or child with insufficient means goes hungry thanks to the Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa.
How fortunate was the city of Calcutta where the noble mother left the teaching profession and began tending to the poorest of the poor — the sick, the dying, beggars and street children.
When Jesus ordered her in an apparent vision during a trip to Darjeeling to help the poor, she came back to Kolkata and started in her new quest.
About her first day on the job, she said: “The old man lying on the street — not wanted — all alone just sick and dying — I gave him carborsone and water to drink and the old man — was so strangely grateful… Then we went to Taltala Bazaar, and there was a very poor woman dying I think of starvation more than tuberculosis... I gave her something which will help her to sleep. I wonder how long she will last.”
Here in the city of Karachi, terribly enough, many journalists — supposedly ‘the best of the best’ — are also prejudiced against people with insufficient means.
Almost all newspapers, from eveningers to national dailies, publish photographs of beggars bothering motorists on the roads of Karachi.
This is a city which has its own share of professional swindlers, muggers, mobile and purse snatchers.
Strangely, the city elite and the middle class seem to be at ease with the political blackmailers and extortionists.
Until Karachi produces people like the ‘saint of the gutters,’ and the ‘banker to the poor,’ Karachians have to choose themselves how to help the people with insufficient means, which would ultimately end the menace of beggary.


lala said...

Salam Hru ?

n me just saying tht Mr. u done nice work.I always appreciate those persons couz i know tht are a great job which u people doing.

Asif Ali Dharejo
Student of MBA (FINANCE)
at M.A Jinnah University, Karachi

Hyder Shar (Mr.) said...

Nice initiative Manzoor!

Hyder Shar (Mr.)
YPO – Project Management Office
Project Management Department
LEAD Pakistan
T: +92 (51) 111-511-111; +92 (51) 2651511
F: +92 (51) 2651512

Gul Agha said...

Your blog has highlighted an important issue.

The one temptation governments must not succumb to is to artificially depress prices. This causes increase in rural poverty. It doesn't work anyway, as production is also suppressed by lower prices.

Throughout the third world (and unlike developed countries), farmers have far less power than urban populations. Their interests are often ignored in favor of the urbanites (both urban poor and, particularly, urban elites). This despite the fact that rural poverty is usually much greater than urban poverty.

Increasing meat consumption -- chicken consumption in India alone has trebled in 25 years, pork consumption in China has seen similar increases -- is the primary cause of high world food prices. The majority of the world's soybean and corn is fed to animals (at 10% efficiency) rather than directly consumed.

A bigger consumer than transportation -- on the global scale -- of oil and gas is animal agriculture. 20% of greenhouse gases are produced by animal agriculture, while only 18% by transportation (all cars, trucks, ships, airplanes put together).

Meanwhile, development should focus on reducing gas consumption -- not highways but mass transit (European countries have a greater fraction of people travelling by trains, buses, trams and commuting by bicycles or walking than third world countries!). see:

sadaaiin gaddu,

Gul Agha

Gul Agha said...

In the last para of my comment, I meant to say than a greater fraction of the middle class (or, in case of the third world, its elite) travel by car rather than mass transit or bikes. Of course, this class is much smaller in third world, perhaps 10 to 20%, rather than the 80 to 90% of the population in the developed countries. Governments in the third world focus on roads for cars rather than foot paths, bike paths and mass transit.

Manzoor said...

This comment published by the blog author (Manzoor) on behalf of Mr Tanvir Zuberi - Toronto, Canada.

Dear Manzoor, I always admire your way of writing that exhibits very good journalism, the one, where complex issues are translated into simple logical statements and common reader can understand and participate in the discussion.
Present govt. is a choice of mostly un-educated and emotional voters who can vote sometimes a bigger evil if they are fed up or frustrated with smaller evil.
The question is what to do?? Knowledgeable and sincere people like you should create a circle of like minded young people, young because we have to use their energy to spread the word of wisdom among Govt. policy makers and functionaries.
For example less consumption of food, electricity & cars can only be successful if high ups and rich people are convinced by members of your circle that charity starts from home and they should be first one to offer sacrifice and then rest of the nation would follow.
You are so right that unless masses are paid enough to create some buying power in them sluggish economy cannot be activated. When East India company landed near Calcutta, the first thing they did was to hire local sepoys to start economic activity (buying n selling) in neighbouring villages and cities, these soldiers maintained law & order, provided security to trade caravans, this started economic activity and people had enough to have three meals a day, this assurance made them loyal to British and they started expanding towards west (Delhi) as local people found them better than their previous Hindu and Muslim lords.
Awami Govt. should follow the British model path though it is 200years late.
Law & Order, Justice, strict merit & not quota system, kindness with poor and strictness with rich, education, healthcare, conservation at each and every level, prevention of white collar crimes all are probably needed to turn the tide against the slump we are facing in Pakistan.
God bless your sincere efforts.Amen said...

Your efforts to shake the humanity against injustices are very much appreciated. In today’s materialistic world, very few people have the time and courage to raise their voice in favor of the poor and depressed.
Although it requires coordinated efforts by different segments of the society including Governments, None government organizations and individuals but the most important task is to highlight these injustices and create awareness. That is where the role of journalists and scholars becomes the most important.
My hats off to your sincere and thankless struggle in this regard.
God bless you