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Beggary: A Serious Issue For Bengal

According to the 2011 census, India has 4,13,670 beggars, comprising 2,21,673 men and 1,91,997 females, with West Bengal having the greatest number of 81,244 beggars, of whom 33086 are male and 48158 are female. The current research paper makes an effort to analyze the socioeconomic factors that led to the high number of beggars, as well as the problems they encounter, the government assistance they receive, and the recommendations made by the authors for raising their socioeconomic standards of living in the state of West Bengal.

All Bengalis have to suffer directly or indirectly as a result of their unsanitary practices. Women and children make up a large portion of the beggar population and are subjected to various social and moral evils, and beggars are associated with various other criminal activities, making them a constant source of nuisance to people visiting the city's pilgrimage and shopping centers.

The primary objective of this research is to analyze the nature and severity of the increase in beggary in West Bengal, to provide solutions, and to recommend ways and means for a more suitable solution.

Begging is a widespread issue that is seen in both rural and urban parts of the nation. Beggars can be seen at all public places in metropolitan areas, including streets, stations, restaurants, banks, supermarkets, mosques, and churches. Street beggars engage in immoral conduct, such as "stealing, violence, and criminal which is highly detrimental to society.

A number of factors, including "poverty, religion, physical disability, culture, national disaster, civil war, bad habits (drug, alcohol, and gambling dependencies), family heritage, uncontrolled rural-urban migration, and psychiatric disabilities and disorders," contribute to the phenomenon of begging.

Begging is a social issue that not only has psychological repercussions, such as the emergence of dependence complexes in the families and networks of kin of the beggars, but also has an impact on the socioeconomic and geographical makeup of metropolitan regions. Beggars in India suffer as a result of an unbalanced socioeconomic structure.(Namwata, Baltazar & Mgabo, Maseke & Dimoso, Provident (2012)

India currently faces two of the most pressing issues: first, it must fulfil the soaring food demand and other consumer goods, and second, it must eradicate the widespread poverty brought on by the country's constantly growing population. As a result, there is a persistently large and gaping shortage of food for the Indian people. A higher need for food, electricity, freshwater, land for human settlements, better public infrastructure, and amenities for a minimum standard of living are all results of the population's exponential increase.

In spite of India's rapid economic growth in recent years, poverty and begging are still among the country's biggest issues. "According to Census 2011, India's beggar population is 4.13 lakh; out of these, 81,244 are from Bengal, which covers around 20% of total beggars in India." Women make up 48.04% of India's overall population. However, according to the 2011 census, women make up 59.27% of all beggars in the state of West Bengal, despite the fact that the proportion of beggars has decreased from 61 per lakh people in 2001 to 30 per lakh citizens in 2011.

The extreme conditions of poverty prevailing in India, coupled with a religious and traditional sense of duty towards the helpless, have given rise to a large number of beggars in all the towns, cities, pilgrimage, and tourist centres of India, but Calcutta seems to have a disproportionately higher share of them.

There are many beggars in all of India's towns, cities, pilgrimage sites, and tourist destinations because of the tremendous poverty that is prevalent there and a religious and cultural feeling of obligation towards the defenseless, but Calcutta appears to have a disproportionately greater amount of them. The following may be some of the causes of this circumstance in West Bengal:
  • The state has an unusual capacity to house all types of people, especially those without a steady source of income or who do not pay taxes;
  • There are three very significant railway terminal in the state that are connected to nearly all of India's major cities and towns; and
  • There are a number of pilgrimage sites in and around the state.
Beggary is a sign of social disorder, and individuals and organisations in India have a widespread habit of providing alms to beggars in an effort to lessen their handicap, helplessness, or social inadequacy. The majority of cases of beggary are caused by the population's growing proportion of displaced workers who are unable to find a job or a means of survival. In addition to this, the most common reasons for poverty are blindness, disabilities, illnesses, etc.

Reasons For Begging In West Bengal

Few of the factors that can alleviate the reasons for begging in West Bengal are the cost of living. For example, the cost-of-living index is the result of numerous important criteria or characteristics that are used right now in cost-of-living comparisons. Kolkata's cost of living index is currently 26.17, whereas Mumbai's is 30.42. The cost of housing, food, the market, transportation, utilities, clothes, and salary are only a few of the variables that determine your economic and financial status; accordingly, negative consequences from these variables might motivate you to beg.

According to Mercer's 2022 Cost of Living assessment, "Mumbai is the most costly city in India in terms of both living expenditures and lodging prices." Kolkata was the least costly Indian city on the list, coming in at number 203, followed by "New Delhi (155), Chennai (177), Bengaluru (178), Hyderabad (192), and Pune (201). The study focused on factors that affect everyday expenditures; among the evaluated Indian cities, Kolkata has the cheapest prices for daily essentials like milk, bread, veggies, etc., while Mumbai and New Delhi have the highest prices.

While Bengal is more affordable than any other state and has 20% of India's beggars, Maharashtra only has 24307 beggars despite its high cost of living and fierce competition. While it is true that Maharashtra has better economic opportunities, its high cost of living makes it nearly impossible for anyone to live on alms, whereas it appears that West Bengal's low cost of living is indirectly contributing to the state's high beggar population, where only a little amount of money is required to survive on a day-to-day basis and more than 400 initiatives are operated by West Bengal to offer jobs, caregiving, and social support.

The majority of these services are provided via the umbrella Jai Bangla scheme. These interventions will be supported at the state level by the West Bengal Building State Capability for Inclusive Social Protection Operation, with a focus on vulnerable populations like women, elderly people, households belonging to scheduled castes and tribes, as well as homes in the state's disaster-prone coastal regions.

Although, according to a recent survey, monetary transfers in West Bengal do not reach as many of the region's poor and vulnerable households as food and in-kind donations do, Due to lengthy application procedures and a lack of automated methods for application and eligibility verification, access to social pensions is particularly limited for the elderly, widowed, and handicapped. Significant factors that contribute to forced begging include poverty, migration, a lack of quality education, certain cultural, religious, and moral traditions, a lack of exposure to the outside world, and many others. The hypothesis behind the surge in the number of beggars, vagrants, etc. can be categorised into further reasons such as:

II.1. Poverty
According to the National Poverty Line, 21.9% of people in a nation like India were living in poverty in 2011. Many more are living just above the poverty line but are still in poverty. They struggle to provide for their everyday needs. Even the water they consume is an issue for them. Every family has at least three children, which puts them in a vulnerable position when it comes to satisfying their fundamental needs. In contrast to any other employment, begging appears to them to be a lucrative alternative given their precarious situation. They frequently have a tendency to push their kids into the "begging industry." They may make easy money since people are sympathetic towards them, which makes encouraging kids to beg more beneficial for them. In this approach, parents coerce their kids into begging.

In Bengal, 1.26 percent of rural households rely mostly on begging for their income. According to the newly released Socioeconomic and Caste Census 2011 report, Rural West Bengal has the highest percentage of families that rely on begging as their primary source of income, which is significantly more than the national average of 0.37 percent.

West Bengal has an illustrious history in terms of business, culture, and other sectors. However, West Bengal's general economic and social circumstances have deteriorated since the 1960s; the 34-year Communist Party rule has frequently been cited as one of the causes of the state's economic stagnation, and the people of the state for the first time voted for change in 2011.

However, data for West Bengal after 10 years of Trinamool Congress leadership do not indicate a significant improvement in economic development. In 2020�21, the state's per capita yearly income was Rs. 122,000, which was less than the national average of Rs. The Tendulkar committee's estimations and statistics from the Planning Commission show that 20% of people live below the poverty line. With a rate of 15%, the state's urban poverty rate is one percentage point higher than the national average. Despite being lower than the national average, the rural poverty rate is 8 percentage points greater than the urban rate.

If we compare West Bengal's yearly per capita income growth rate between 1993�1994 and 1999�2000 to the national average of 4.6%, West Bengal's growth rate was 5.5%. The growth rate in West Bengal decreased to 4.9% over the following ten years, while the average for all of India increased to 5.5. West Bengal's growth rate decreased to 4.2% between 2011�12 and 2019�20, and while the average growth rate for all of India decreased to 5.2%, the difference has somewhat widened.

It is important to note that during the 1990s, the state's growth rate was greater than the national average. Both the prior decade and the last decade of the Left Front government had a decline below the all-India average (2011�12 to 2019�20). Therefore, it is evident that West Bengal's growth has slightly slowed during the past ten years when compared to the ten years prior. The all-India growth rate, on the other hand, represents the broader economic decline that had already begun in 2016 before the effects of the COVID-19 problem surfaced.

A geographical assessment of the state reveals areas with large concentrations of poor people. In the Purulia area, more than a third of the people are considered to be extremely poor. In the rural or suburban section of the district, it appears that a sizable portion of the impoverished people have settled close to the regions that are economically active, such as adjacent to agricultural farmland or the mining belt. Similar patterns can be seen in the mining-belt areas of the Uttar Dinajpur, Malda, Birbhum, and Bankura districts, which have substantial proportions of the poor.

It is obvious that the rate of development in these growing zones has not been sufficient to handle the rising population influx from within and beyond the state. The state's growing unemployment rate is a result of the economy's sluggish expansion, which has contributed to the state's ongoing poverty.

The districts of Howrah, Hooghly, and Kolkata have comparatively low overall poverty rates. Yet a close-up look at these districts reveals that large populations of the destitute are concentrated around water sources. It is typical to see relatively dense populations close to water sources. Different kinds of economic possibilities are provided by rivers and other bodies of water. One of the key sources of revenue for the state is fishing. Additionally, one of the busiest bridges in the nation and the Hooghly River's bridge between Howrah and Kolkata, the Howrah bridge, provides several options for employment. The significant concentration of poverty around water features, however, may indicate that job options are already plentiful in these locations and that wages are poor.

Geographic isolation is a prominent factor in spatial poverty, The geographical concentration of poverty is influenced by the difficult access to markets that is typical of forest regions. How far away from centres of economic output impoverished households are determines how growth affects poverty. In the districts of Jalpaiguri, Malda, Bardhaman, and Purba Medinipur, more than 50% of the population lives in extreme poverty. The fact that the Adivasi population predominates in these regions is another factor contributing to the high poverty rate in rural areas. The Adivasis have always faced difficulties finding work due to long-term economic and social isolation.

Despite the state's lack of economic dynamism, West Bengal's rural districts have had faster buying power growth than the rest of the country. The state government's several transfer programs, including the Kanyashree, Krishak Bandhu, and Yuvashree, may be somewhat responsible for this. This needs to be weighed against the allegations of mismanagement, political repression, and corruption that appear to be working against the TMC as an incumbent party.

It also exhibits very little urban bias in terms of poverty incidence since the gap between urban and rural poverty is negligible in comparison to many other states. It is troubling to see that the rate of poverty alleviation in the post-liberalization era has slowed down in contrast to the pre-liberalization era. If we look at how common poverty is in West Bengal's districts, we discover that there are many levels of poverty there: While the southeastern districts demonstrate low to moderate rural and urban poverty, the southwestern districts exhibit moderate to high poverty, while the poverty levels in the northern districts exhibit notable swings from low to moderate to high levels.

II.2. Migration
Families move across the city in great danger, and occasionally they may not be able to locate other employment that will allow them to survive. These families are forced to beg and are trafficked. Due to their migrant status, they are unable to navigate the city and are therefore easily kidnapped and forced to rely on begging for money. This encourages greater people trafficking, and West Bengal has a history of accepting both legal and illegal immigrants from other countries and Indian states, including Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, etc.

During the years 2002�2003, the Population Studies Unit performed a qualitative study on the impacts of unreported migration from Bangladesh to West Bengal. The analysis shows that illegal migration has been ongoing, with its peak occurring during and immediately following the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Migration increased significantly on August 15, 1975, the day after Mujibur Rehman was killed. The primary causes of this widespread migration between 1971 and 1980 were political unrest in Bangladesh, a lack of safety and security for Hindu families due to the war, racial and communal tensions affecting primarily Hindus under Ziaur Rahman's rule (1975�81), and economic and employment opportunities in West Bengal.

Morbidity and child mortality have increased in West Bengal as a result of the settlement of migrants, typically in "unhygienic conditions, poor nutrition, inadequate medical and health care facilities, a lack of safe drinking water and sanitation, poverty, illiteracy, social unawareness, the new environment, and unsettling conditions." The key driving forces behind the migratory phenomenon are the economic downturn, lack of industrialization, social unrest, population expansion, political unpredictability, dominance of religious extremists in Bangladesh, cultural similarities, and the homoethnic milieu in West Bengal. Pranati Datta, Swati Sadhu, B.N. Bhattacharya, and P.K. Majumdar (2008)

Different political parties provided protection to illegal immigrants at different times, which prevented local governments from enforcing rigorous law and order. Illegal aliens are added to the voter list and utilised as a voting bloc. Therefore, Indian politicians have frequently promoted Bangladeshi immigration. They can now hardly be distinguished from Indian citizens. Despite the fact that many migrants arrived with the hope of finding long-term employment, they frequently had to seize the possibilities that presented themselves and seek refuge in the shadow economy in order to survive.

The researcher has evaluated the dynamics of begging as a means of subsistence while looking at migration. Our analysis of begging was further strengthened by a comparative regional approach, which recognised the diverse ways that begging is experienced by men and women across two research locations. The Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959, according to Criminal Revision Petition No. 784 of 2006, classifies all the causes of begging as idleness, drunkenness, drug addiction, gang exploitation, malnutrition, or homelessness.

My research has shown other causes for begging, including ageing, (bad) health, food shortages, the proportion of earner to dependents, and marital status. The reports of both men and women imply that necessity frequently influences migrants' decisions to beg. Men cited the scarcity of food as a significant hurdle, while women interviewed expressed anxiety over their poverty and widowed status.

Men's stories, in particular, revealed a connection between begging and aging. As people aged and their physical stamina declined, migration patterns in West Bengal often varied. Those who were actively moving in search of hard labour had no choice but to begin begging. The elderly population in underdeveloped rural towns had little to no access to national social security programmes like pensions, social benefits, or health care services, which accelerated the need for such decisions. This situation contrasts with the conversation about ageing that is currently taking place, especially in developed nations, where issues with social security access, a dwindling workforce, and a rising awareness of the need for more immigration of younger people are being raised.

The women respondents went into greater detail when describing the begging conditions in Bengal that forced landless people and widows without sons to relocate for this profession. Their stories demonstrated the evolving attitudes of women towards begging. They emphasised the importance of such migration as a means of securing a living. The findings contribute to our understanding of widows' independent position, stable means of subsistence, and increased activity areas. These ladies offered a thorough description of how family conflicts, domestic abuse, or the dissolution of family life led to their experiences as visible homeless people, but they were able to meet their basic needs via begging.

Women said that as their husbands moved from agricultural labour to begging, which did not pay well, their capacity to react to demands for cash decreased. Yet, in West Bengal in particular, these older women were better positioned in their houses than young spouses due to their position in the life course and the makeup of their households, despite their economic worries. They had more options and accessibility to leave their houses, see friends and physicians outside the area, and delegate responsibilities to other family members. Their bodily unease decreased as well. They talked about getting used to their husband's relocation and frequent absences from the house.

Overall, in terms of policy, some contend that immigrants should be accepted for humanitarian reasons, but granting resident permits to illegal immigrants is impractical because India is already overpopulated with its current population, according to those who believe they should be expelled as soon as possible. Supporting the migrant community is not a solution, but it may be required at some point. Long-term remedies may include bilateral agreements and initiatives to raise Bangladesh's economic standing.

II.3. Lack of Quality Education
Lack of a decent education increases the likelihood that someone may go for a job that appears to be a lucrative way to get money. They choose to scavenge for money, but occasionally human traffickers seize them, sell them, and force them to work for their tiny business, turning these families or individuals into their slaves and eventually forcing them into beggary.

Compared to the national average of 25.8%, West Bengal's gross enrollment ratio for higher education (18�23 years old) in 2017�18 was just 18.7%, while the ratio for women in the state was even lower at 17.6%. West Bengal has just 12, compared to the national average of 28, or 1,341 colleges per lakh of people ages 18 to 23. West Bengal has 1,170 students per college on average, compared to 698 on the national average. Therefore, West Bengal's deficiency in higher education institutions, both in terms of quantity and caliber, is too obvious to ignore. (Mitra, Debjani, and Tushar K. Ghara 2019)

Between 2016�17 and 2018�19, the pupil-teacher ratio in primary schools decreased from 29 to 22 and from 49 to 42 in upper primary schools. From 2016�17 to 2018�19, the revised planned spending in the same field increased by 18%. Similarly, between 2010�11 and 2017�18, the state's government investment in education increased considerably. School education, panchayats and rural development, urban development and municipal affairs, and health and family welfare received the most funding in the 2018-19 budget. That year, the state spent 18.2% of its budgeted funds on education. This is more than the average expenditure on education in the other 18 states. (West Bengal Budget 2018-19)

The number of universities increased from 26 in 2011�12 to 46 in 2018 "including 19 state public universities, central universities, deemed universities, and universities of other categories." The goal of this point is not to exaggerate the effect of the new government's emphasis on education after 2011, but rather to draw attention to the state of education in West Bengal during those years of heavy debt during the final phase of Left Front rule. ( ALL INDIA SURVEY ON HIGHER EDUCATION)

For instance, while West Bengal placed quite high (with Rs 12,922.31 crore), followed by Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh in the state-by-state distribution of funds for education by the education departments under the revenue account, the percentage between budgeted education spending and gross state domestic product (GSDP) of states and union territories during 2010�11 was 2.73, which was lower than that of several other states. The following years saw a rise in this proportion to 3.32. This improvement was obviously still insufficient, though. Several northeastern states, as well as other states like Chhattisgarh, had better conditions.

According to the University Grants Commission, there are "19 autonomous institutions in the state as of the current year (2021), compared to 193 in Tamil Nadu, 104 in Andhra Pradesh, 71 in Karnataka, and 60 in Telangana." The context for this must be understood in light of the backdrop best provided in a 2004 study by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (UGC), which stated, "So far, there is no autonomous college in West Bengal." Some of the top institutions have thought about having autonomy, but it has not yet been put into practice. In West Bengal, higher education is still mostly a government duty.

There is still more work to be done in education, despite the fact that West Bengal has made some progress. We still do not know just how much Kanyasree has done to advance and broaden educational opportunities for girls. Research is still not good enough. Primary data points to its greater performance in rural regions; its success in cities is yet unknown.

West Bengal is one of the top five states for enrollment in higher education. However, there are gaps in a number of industries. There are open teaching positions. While there may be a vacancy or a job available in some instances, there may not be a teacher for that position. Infrastructure, institutional growth, and equipment all require careful operational planning.

II.4. Cultural- Religious- moral traditions followed by some.
In this scenario, the children who were made to beg and the cultures and traditions of some communities appear to promote or at least condone child begging. Cultural and religious traditions may become deeply ingrained in civilizations and have a significant impact on community members. Even if it is true that widespread acceptance of begging in general would certainly render girls and boys more susceptible to this type of abuse, a "tradition" of begging differs from forcing children to beg. People's decisions to donate to child beggars are also influenced by their traditions and religious beliefs; without these payments, forced child begging would no longer be possible. Christian, Hindu, and Muslim religions all share this feeling of obligation. This is how antiquated customs push kids to beg. This also counts as begging.

Making begging illegal in India is more of a punitive measure than a step towards rehabilitation because some children were trafficked even before they were born and have been in slavery ever since. They are unaware of the rules and that they have been treated unfairly; they just know how to beg. Men's, women's, and children's rights are violated because they are unaware of the legal repercussions or available legal remedies. Only sound laws will be able to defend their rights. In India, laws criminalise begging rather than protecting the interests of beggars. We primarily have one piece of law that deals with beggar prevention.

Status And Evolution Of Women And Old In Bengali Society

Since it is established that the majority of people who are engaged in begging are women and the elderly, it is important for us to evaluate how women and the elderly in an egalitarian society (primarily matriarchal) are forced to beg to survive. To start with, let's talk about women. (Moussumee Dutta, 1999)

Women of West Bengali or Bengali culture have always been compelled to embrace and naturalise male dominance, which has resulted in their exclusion from society. Women have historically not been treated equally to males but in bengal they were treated much better than any of India at every given time period. Men rule over women in patriarchal societies, but Bengali society, being much more of an egalitarian society, does not have to face many of these problems, although there is systematic discrimination against women. For their happiness, they are made to work in the home and submit to males. In addition to the numerous ways in which they have been neglected, mistreated, and ridiculed, women are also ignored economically.

A typical Bengali woman works an hour longer each day than the average Indian man since they are not entitled to equal compensation for equal effort or inheritance rights. However, a lot of her labour goes unappreciated because it is generally unpaid. The birth of a girl is viewed as a misfortune and a burden in some areas of Bengal. So, out of ignorance, some individuals engage in female infanticide, or the killing of a girl child as soon as she is born. Some parents even discover means of having an abortion performed on the girl child. All of these are well recognized, yet problems relating to the health of women do not receive enough attention.

The status and position of women in Bengal have seen significant transformation in the decades after independence. However, the shift from complete subordination of women to equality is not a straightforward example of women's advancement in the contemporary period. After independence, several laws related to women were passed in an effort to improve their standing. These largely concerned marriage, divorce, property inheritance, and employment. There is still much work to be done in this area despite the fact that social reformers' laws and several other emancipatory activities have undoubtedly improved the position of women in Bengal.

The discussion of the position of women in the State of West Bengal starts with a discussion of the state's historical and cultural background, which blames Bengali Hindu culture and British colonialism for women's low status and cultural isolation in contrast to their splendour in the Vedic period. The practise of burning widows was abolished in the previous century, women's education increased, and Bengali women distinguished themselves in politics, nonprofit organizations, and literature. The sex ratio in 2011 was 944 in urban areas and 953 in rural areas, reflecting West Bengal's continued low status of women.

Social laws, however, have not been very effective in Bengal for a variety of reasons. One significant factor is that most women are not completely aware of the state-adopted measures for their advancement, and even when they are, they do not employ them because of the enduring old societal beliefs. They are unable to make any revolutionary decisions because of these traditions and principles. The oppressed status of women cannot be significantly improved by legal or legislative consequences alone unless there is a significant shift in people's attitudes and awareness of both men and women. Their illiteracy is one of the major obstacles in this respect. Even educated women do not always utilise their right to equality when it is necessary.

As a result, women now have a higher standing in the eyes of the law, but they are still not on par with men in any aspect of life. They still experience exploitation, harassment, humiliation, and prejudice both within and outside of the family. Though theoretically women may now have more independence, in reality they still face numerous challenges, dehumanizing treatment, and unfairness everywhere. She still does not receive the same treatment as her male counterpart in the house. A baby girl is never received with the same �clat and joy as a baby boy, with the exception of a small number of well-educated households in metropolitan areas.

The birth of a girl might occasionally be seen as a negative omen. They do not receive the respect they deserve in the home or are treated equally to males. Males still prioritise their responsibilities as a husband and father over their wives and kids. The male head of the family still holds control and authority over the home. Most middle- and lower-class households still follow the dominant father paradigm. With a few exceptions, ladies in so-called contemporary households have not evolved into equal partners with their husbands, despite the fact that they may be well-educated or even more so than their husbands.

Their situation is not any better in the professional world either. Women from upper castes were not formerly permitted to work outside the house in any paid employment. They are not treated equally in many workplace-related problems, either. In rural Bengal, women are treated as drudges despite the fact that they are theoretically associated with goddesses. The issues of inferiority, injustice, reliance, and exploitation that women face in the villages have not altered. Despite the enormous amount of effort that is demanded of them in the house, in the agricultural field, or in some employment, ill-treatment is linked with no equitable chance for social involvement. Women are known for their ability to multitask well, which is one of their key traits. She is often the one who manages both the house and the workplace.

The women of Bengal have seen a dramatic transformation in the contemporary era, and urban women in particular have gone from being purely domestic to becoming fearless multitaskers. She had confidently faced the world. Today's women manage household responsibilities and housework, pursue careers outside the home, care for their children, and strike a balance between their personal and professional lives. The majority of metropolitan families today look like this. Modern women are autonomous, courageous in their decisions, speak up for their rights, and follow the successful route.

Women are being educated about the benefits of being socially aware, having a positive reputation and image in the family, planning, and supporting their children's higher education, and taking responsibility for the health of the young and old. The majority of women nowadays have the option to finish their education and obtain a degree, subsequently which made Marriage and having children are discouraged among young people. In order to provide women from disadvantaged backgrounds an opportunity to pursue an education, the government offers a variety of incentives for women's education.

The status of women in Bengal has significantly improved recently, and many hold highly regarded positions in both the public and commercial sectors. Women are involved in all facets of India's modern economy. This has shown that, if given the chance, women can be even better than men. The national and state governments of India should provide women with the same opportunities as men.

The majority of the aforementioned beggars are elderly, so West Bengal, a state in eastern India, is not an exception to this phenomenon of population ageing in the nation, where 8.5% of the total population are elderly. In addition, I would like to discuss the status of the elderly in Bengali society. There are 74, 90, and 514 people over the age of 60, with 32% living in urban regions and 68% (51.4% males and 48.6% females) living in rural areas.

For the younger generation and the economy at large, the elderly represent a rich vein of information and experience. The elderly population in West Bengal is anticipated to grow as life expectancy increases. Statistics show that by 2050, the elderly will make up around a quarter of the whole population. Kolkata is quickly turning into a city of retirees. According to a recent survey, Kolkata has the most elderly residents of any Indian metropolis, with the majority of them living alone.

The educated middle-class Bengalis have always looked beyond their own state's borders and travelled to other cities and nations, but in the past ten years, there has been a large outflow of young people. In fact, among major cities, Kolkata has the lowest proportion of people aged 20 to 30. The social structure is being severely weakened by the large migration of young people, with the elderly being disproportionately impacted. The elder members sense the great gap closing in on them since they are missing the intimate touch of their own brood. Numerous physical and mental anxieties and traumas�both genuine and imagined�increase their terror.

The majority of old people in Bengal experience psychological suffering, which is strongly correlated with low levels of education, living alone without a spouse or children, functional dependency, and decisions made by others about their medical care. Alarmingly, a substantial percentage of senior residents in this rural region reported experiencing psychological anguish. In order for older people to continue to contribute to the improvement of society, all actions must be conducted with a specific focus on their mental health.

In comparison to their contemporaries in practically all other states, West Bengal's senior citizens are seen to have some of the worst health conditions, with Kerala being the exception. This is true both in terms of acute diseases and chronic health disorders as well as functional limits. In rural locations, functional limits that involve both ADL and IADL tasks have been seen to be on the rise. This necessitates that the health system pay close attention in order to prepare for this largely unmet requirement and the rising demand for geriatric treatment.

Additionally, the state has promoted private sector involvement in the healthcare industry. 41 specialty and super specialty hospitals with an emphasis on elderly care are opening in West Bengal, according to government communications. There are physiotherapists and nurses on call; home delivery of medications and necessities; applications that connect them to emergency services; resort-like amenities for those that want more luxury; and more.

The Old Age Pension Scheme, which offers old West Bengalis who are lawful residents of the state financial help of Rs. 750 per month, has also been launched by the state government. After retirement, managing medical bills becomes more challenging as income decreases. People become increasingly prone to numerous illnesses as they age. The requirement for a consistent source of revenue to pay for treatment and preventative costs grows significantly.

The state will face unprecedented pressures from disease and mortality in the next decades as the senior population grows. As previously stated, key hurdles to senior Indians' access to health care include social barriers impacted by gender and other axes of social inequality (religion, caste, socioeconomic status, stigma). Physical barriers include limited mobility, a loss in social involvement, and limited access to the health care system. Limits on health affordability include income, employment, and asset ceilings, as well as limits on the amount of financial protection available for medical bills under India's and Bengal's health systems.

As the elderly in the nation age, it is crucial to comprehend the societal elements that affect them. The state of West Bengal should also get ready to handle the rising issue of caring for its senior population in light of increased life expectancy, fast urbanization, and lifestyle changes.

In order to enhance the quality of life for the elderly, all social service organisations across the nation must address the social issues surrounding their care. To ensure that the elderly live with dignity, it is necessary to start more effective social assistance programs. To address the care requirements and difficulties faced by Bengal's ageing population, an integrated and responsive system must also be developed.

In conclusion, the problem of beggary in Bengal is a complex and deeply rooted issue that demands a comprehensive and well-coordinated solution. The underlying causes of beggary, including poverty, devaluation of women and the elderly in Bengali society, cultural-religious-moral traditions, lack of quality education, and migration, all contribute to the perpetuation of this serious issue.

It is essential that a collaborative effort is made between the government, community leaders, religious organizations, and other stakeholders to tackle the problem of beggary in Bengal. Improving access to education, promoting gender equality, and supporting the elderly can help to reduce the incidence of beggary by providing alternative means of livelihood for those who are vulnerable to it. Furthermore, addressing poverty through job creation and economic development initiatives is critical to reducing beggary in the long term.

Additionally, it is important to challenge cultural-religious-moral traditions that contribute to the acceptance of beggary in Bengali society. Education and awareness campaigns can play a key role in promoting positive attitudes towards work and self-sufficiency, thereby discouraging the notion that begging is an acceptable form of survival.

Begging may be a crucial survival tactic for the underprivileged in West Bengal .The difficulties and possibilities experienced by the migrants (who beg) and the absence of institutional systems to help individuals in rural communities are explained by the categorization of this sort of migration as a livelihood strategy. It shows how hard it may be for people to make a livelihood when there is little social, financial, or institutional assistance. Both men and women experience the pressures of begging as a means of support, which is a burden made worse by aging, deteriorating physical endurance, and ongoing economic challenges.

However, despite the hardship and the absence of guaranteed monetary transfers from each migration, the majority of persons who engage in the activity do not think that begging is less financially rewarding. They recognize the benefits and chances offered by this means of subsistence. Remittances from begging do constitute a necessary requirement for subsistence, regardless of the beliefs associated with the activity or the individuals who engage in it. They are a crucial resource for overcoming hunger and food shortages.

The individuals engaged, and the nature of the activities are considerably more significant than being a beggar. Encouragement of begging would be ineffective since it is not the root of the issue facing elderly persons in poverty. Since many elderly men and women rely on migration to meet basic necessities for food and healthcare, reducing migration for begging may actually make situations worse. Therefore, research on temporary internal migration should take beggar movement into account to start addressing this demand among impoverished landless households in rural Bengal's communities.

In conclusion, the solution to beggary in Bengal requires a multi-pronged approach that addresses the immediate needs of those who beg, as well as the underlying structural issues that contribute to the perpetuation of this problem. With sustained effort, collaboration, and a commitment to finding a comprehensive solution, it is possible to reduce the incidence of beggary in Bengal and improve the lives of those who are affected by it.

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  • Namwata, Baltazar & Mgabo, Maseke & Dimoso, Provident. (2012). Feelings of Beggars on Begging Life and their Survival Livelihoods in Urban Areas of Central Tanzania. International Journal of Physical and Social Sciences. Volume 2,. 306-322.
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  • Published by Statista Research Department, and Sep 12. "India: West Bengal per Capita Income 2021." Statista, September 12, 2022. URL:,in%20the%20financial%20year%202021
  • Mitra, Debjani, and Tushar K. Ghara. "Gross Enrolment Ratio in Higher Education: A District Level Analysis of the State of West Bengal." Asian Review of Social Sciences 8, no. 3 (2019): 37�41. URL:
  • World Bank Group. "India: West Bengal Gets $125 Million to Help Citizens Access Social Protection Services." World Bank. World Bank Group, February 2, 2022. URL:
  • Laveesh Bhandari, Minakshi Chakraborty. "Spatial Poverty in West Bengal." mint, March 22, 2015. URL:
  • B.N. Bhattacharya, P.K. Majumdar, Pranati Datta, and Swati Sadhu. " Demographic Effects of Forced Illegal Migration from Bangladesh to West Bengal : A Qualitative Study." Demographic Effects of Forced Illegal Migration from Bangladesh to West Bengal, 2008. URL:
  • Ghara, Tushar. (2017). Analysis of Higher Education GER � A Study for West Bengal and Orissa. IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science. 22. 32-35. 10.9790/0837-2207013235.
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