Opened the paper this morning to this head line: Cops mull DNA testing of Delhi’s beggars. As I had written in yesterday’s blog, the plight of beggar children was in the news on day 1 of year 2015! And this from the High Court of our city! So it was not surprising that a day later we are made privy to the fact that the Delhi police is drawing up a plan to conduct DNA tests on people begging on the streets with children, to find out it these kids were their own or had been abducted and trafficked. We are informed that this idea was sent to the Prime Minister’s office by a citizen who found that women were often found begging with children in their laps who did not resemble them. Though this may sound a great idea, it is in fact a knee jerk reaction to a monumental problem: child beggars. The concerned citizen seems to accept child beggars if they ‘resemble’ their mother, or so it sounds. I am willing to give the person the benefit of the doubt and applaud the fact that he or she found his or her voice and took a step in the right direction. On the other hand I am a little weary of the rapidity with which the suggestion was passed to the Chief of Police. We all know that whatever comes from the hallowed PMO is never viewed as a ‘suggestion’ but as a ‘directive’ and without weighing the pros and cons of the said suggestion ‘orders’ must have been passed in haste. It however seems that some sense as prevailed as the legality of such tests is being weighed.
If the concerned citizen was disturbed by the sight of a child begging, then he or she should have not stopped at the mother child issue, but express anguish over all children who beg. The way this idea sounds is that if the child belongs to the beggar woman, then it is all kosher. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Before I go any further, I would just like to be the Devil’s advocate and reiterate the comment of an activist on the DNA testing idea:“What if a woman claims to have found a homeless child? There are hundreds of cases where a woman beggar adopts the child of a fellow beggar after she dies. What action can be taken against them?”
Child beggars are a blot on our society more so because, as is the case in any business, if there was no demand there would be no supply. It is because people give, and give abundantly, that beggary in any form thrives.
As to the question of legality of the DNA testing, I tend to argue that everyone born in this country is protected by the same rights, and as such testing are done on a court order and mostly with the person’s consent, the very idea of forced testing simply because you are carrying a child that someone feels does not resemble you, seems absurd!
We should be outraged by children begging, yet we have learnt to live with it, finding our own coping strategies: tinted car glasses for some, looking away for others or rolling down your car window and handing out a doing without looking at the child. And we have been doing so unabashedly thus allowing beggary to become a lucrative business.
We should be incensed everyone every time we see a little hand proffered in our direction. The solution is not to remove them and throw them outside the city limits as was done during the famed Commonwealth Games. The problem of children begging has to taken head on. The government is accountable for the protection of all children and their are many laws that enacted for the same.
Stopping children begging is not simply counting them and parking them somewhere, away from public glare. They need to be given their rights: to education, to food, to shelter and to childhood. We can barely look after our mentally challenged children and our orphans and we all know the terrible conditions of state run institutions. So what do you do after a DNA test tells you that the child is not the child of the woman carrying her. Where do you take the child, who looks after it and ensures its care.
You may want to believe it or not, beggar mothers do care for their children in the best way possible and unless we can provide adequate care, we should not embark on some hair brained programme that may do more harm than good.