Indian Hyderabad offers money to citizens to report beggars
"The prisons department will offer 500 rupees to anyone who identifies beggars in Hyderabad and informs officials," State Institute of Correctional Administration official M. Sampat told the media.
The city police has already announced a two-month ban on begging and started rounding up beggars outside places of worship, as well as bus and railway stations.
"Beggars picked up are being sent to a rehabilitation center. We will ensure that there are no beggars on the roads of Hyderabad at least till January. To make this campaign sustainable in the long run, citizens will soon be offered money," a senior police official said Wednesday.
Critics have, however, slammed the authorities, saying that the move is because of a trip by U.S. President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump's to Hyderabad later this month.
"A similar campaign was undertaken by the authorities when former U.S. President Bill Clinton had visited Hyderabad in March 2000. Though it did not last long, this time they are trying to impress the President's daughter," said Pratap Bhatia, a social activist.
However, officials refuted the allegations, saying that the campaign has no connection with anyone's visit to the city.
"It has nothing to do with the three-day Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2017, scheduled to begin here on Nov. 28, which will be attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ivanka Trump," said another city official.
Authorities also denied any inhuman approach to make the city beggar-free. "We let off the able-bodied beggars after they give us an undertaking that they will not beg again," Director-General of Prisons, V. K. Singh, told the media.
Despite India's rapid economic growth in the past decade, poverty and beggars in this country are still big problems.
Official figures put the number of beggars in India at 400,000. And studies by several non-governmental organizations suggested that over 95 percent of people resort to beggary because of abject poverty, distress migration from rural villages and lack of employment opportunities.
"Rooting out beggars from a city is not the solution. The government has to eradicate begging in a proper way by uplifting the poor and the destitute," said K. L. Raman, a Delhi-based social activist. ■