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Photographer's Note

Oh, the plight of beggars in India. Are they pests, nuisances, economic artifacts, or merely part of the scenery? The average Indian deals with the situation every day. But with what attitude! Is it a spiteful combination of irritation and apathy? Or just curiosity?

Whatever it is, we know two things from this photo. First, the attitudes are as diverse as the people themselves. Expressions range from derisive hatred, to calm perplexity. Secondly, the feelings are fleeting, since a photo from a moment later shows people in different thoughts.

Foreigners in India are attacked (with even greater intensity) by the same questions - but respond with very different attitudes. Most are confused: the customary Indian apathy is impossible to attain for a foreigner, while giving money is only propagating what seems to be a disease.

After all are they a disease? Hindu tradition includes begging as a part of daily life and spiritual attainment. Alms-giving, or Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam. Buddhists call their monks bhikkhus, or beggars in Pali. Christ once said, "If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor." On one hand begging, charity and poverty are part of our culture and tradition. On the other hand, it's a formidable profession that feeds freely on human sympathy.

Regarding my own response, my policy varies: I will never fund a group of healthy teenagers sitting under a flyover, but I do try to give something to the old. And I clearly remember handing this old lady a 10 rupee note, not because I photographed her, but because I felt she needed it.

However, I am curious. To the photographers here who have visited or live in India: how do you respond to the begging issue in India?

bema, Leconte, jhm, belido, pajaran, s_lush, bukitgolfb301, dmarizz has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by Biswaroop Mukherjee (bmukherjee) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 218 W: 72 N: 211] (1516)
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