Begging in India has been an age-old issue. Country’s poor, who are usually unable to get jobs, have to take up begging for earning livelihood. The government has come out with the total number of beggars in the country. As per the data released by Union ministry of Social Justice, there are around 4 lakh beggars in total.
The highest number of beggars, 81,000, are in West Bengal. Lakshadweep, a union territory, has only two people begging for their livelihood. West Bengal is followed by Uttar Pradesh and Bihar at number two and three respectively. The figures were given by Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot in a written reply to Lok Sabha.
As per the minister’s statement, a total number of 4,13,670 beggars are residing in India, including 2,21,673 males and 1,91,997 females beggars in the country. The data, based on 2011 census, says female beggars outnumber their male counterparts in the states of West Bengal, Assam and Manipur.
State-wise list of India’s begging population
West Bengal, topping the chart with 81,224 beggars, was followed by Uttar Pradesh (65,835), Andhra Pradesh (30,218), Bihar (29,723). Madhya Pradesh ( 28,695) and Rajasthan (25,853) are at number five and six in the list.
The government data show there are lesser number of beggars in Union Territories. While Lakshadweep has only two beggars, Dadra Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and the Andaman and Nicobar islands have only 19, 22 and 56 beggars respectively. Among the union territories, New Delhi had the largest number of beggars 2,187 followed by 121 in Chandigarh. Among the northeastern states, Asam topped the chart with 22,116 beggars, while Mizoram ranked low with 53 beggars.
The alleviation of beggars falls under the purview of social justice ministry. Begging and poverty are age old issue in India. Recently, Rahul Gandhi-led Congress party promised that it would set up a ‘national poverty alleviation fund’ and impose a 5 per cent cess on the incomes of the top 1 per cent richest Indians if it was voted to power in 2019.