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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Beggars can be choosers, in Dhaka atleast

So you must be knowing about Sports Zone in Mohakhali, Export Processing Zones (EPZ) outside Dhaka and Chittagong, the diplomatic zone in Baridhara, you have also heard about O-zone (that is Ozone layer in the atmosphere) and some of you might be ardent fans of Boy Zone too....but now lets give it up for the new 'zone' in town...yet another product of some creative brains in the national the form of nothing other than our very own and only 'begging zone' for the Dhaka city! Yes, I am also wondering like you whether to laugh, cry, frown or sigh at this, can't make up my mind yet.

Read more here to find out how the government's Disabled Welfare Foundation had outlined an action plan to rehabilitate beggars so that "they can't create nuisances or tarnish the country's image". A survey is planned led by a 'top TV star' and charities are also pretty much vocal on the roots and reasons of why there is a huge influx of beggars in the capital. Honestly, I don't see how effective this 'special zone' would be to reduce the miseries of these beggars, some of them are 'happy-go-lucky beggars' any ways and have decided to join this 'business' voluntarily or due to family traditions. Now for the real victims of natural calamities, acute needs a greater planning to re-establish them in the society, or to convert them long term into some sort of a workforce. Following the principles of cause and effect, we always come up with knee jerk reactions and 'measures' to prevent the 'effects' and the by-products, comfortably procrastinating to remedy the root causes that cause the eventual not-so-good effects i.e. floods of beggars in this case.

I wonder how this special begging zone would be. Some questions begging to be answered are...
1. Will there be any physical boundary to demarcate this zone?
2. Which areas are likely to be labelled as this unfortunate zone?
3. How the residents of that area would feel? Would they be termed as beggars too?
4. Will the property prices go down/up in that special zone?
5. What kind of nuisances would the beggars be allowed to create inside this zone? Please give examples.
6. Can someone apply to become a beggar and get some sort of a permit to start begging in that zone?
7. Will the government introduce similar schemes especially right after Eid holidays when non-Dhakaiyyas go to their native district towns/villages? From now on, those who were born out of the capital would require special 'zone permits' (visas?) to stay, work, live inside the 'zoned' Dhaka city? Who knows the administration might think such fantasy schemes would help reduce the traffic jam and over population of Dhaka city. So rather than addressing the problems at the root, they might do some stunt here too.

I have heard that there had been some 'begging businessmen' who had been begging professionally for decades around the religious hotspots in Dhaka and are proud owners of multi-story flats in the capital. I used to confront the seriously out of rhythm 'sufi begging tunes' of a band of five beggars beside the Australian High Commission in Gulshan-2. Then there was the young ones who used to follow a 'trick or treat' approach in the traffic intersections. They used to assume how long-lasting your relationship will be if you happen to be sitting with your wife/girlfriend in the CNG (auto-rickshaw) and give you blessings, provided you pay some quick cash. Failure to do so sometimes followed with abuse too from safer distances. Personally I always avoided the too young and mischievious ones, the young, single moms with new borns who refused offers of working at home as maids or in any garments company. Not to mention the yearly fracas that takes place on the day of Eid ul Azha with women, children fighting over the 'third portion' of the meat and eventually reselling it and reselling it and reselling it. So much so for religious purpose. I preferred to pay some extra to the old rickshaw puller or to the ferry-wallahs who turned sweat to money everyday to meet their minimum living needs.

Certainly the act of begging is not something to be ridiculed, rather the reactions to tackle this problem is worthy of serious scrutiny and sarcasm. Like many other important problems of governance, this issue was never thought of. I hope whatever we plan now lasts beyond 5 years. A troika partnership among NGOs, private sector and government agencies is a must. Also we need to keep in mind that we as a nation has a tendency to go 'palms up' especially to donors and foreign aid agencies. That certainly trickles down to bottom, so we need to weed out those who prefer to beg just because its easy, requires no or little 'hardwork' and because the government is providing 'free zones' for them to beg and continue their trade.


1 comment:

BApPI said...

Amazing...... Din Bodol eyr gaan in Digital Bangladesh. During my school years I used to give them 'taka / paisas' from my pocket money, to help them. But, now I don't even look at them. They are not human. I am working hard to earn my bread but all they are doing they are moving from door to door and begging. Believe me, many of them have or had 'bari ghor jaiga jomi' They left all these just for Dhaka instead of maintaining their assets its easy for them to earn by begging. I wish the 'begging zone' can atleast discourage them to continue and return to their root.