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Bangladesh City Of Chittagong To ‘Pay Disabled Beggars’ To Keep Off Streets During Cricket World Cup

January 31, 2011

I’m not sure how I feel about the news that authorities in Chittagong, Bangladesh, say they will pay disabled beggars a daily wage to keep off the streets during the Cricket World Cup, which starts next month and is being jointly hosted by Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka.

Authorities in Chittagong also say they would give the beggars a chance to move into rehabilitation centres.

It’s not that I don’t think these things will happen- I’m sure they will, for a short time, during the tournament. But I have to wonder if they will last  after the Cricket World Cup is over. If they do, then these are and would be great ideas. The problem is that to me, as a South Asian person living in England, it looks like this is only being done to make cricketers and fans from the West think begging isn’t as much of a problem in Bangladesh as it reallly is. If that’s true, then they would be wasting their time and money.

There are lots of people in the West who already know what a big problem begging is all over South Asia. Westerners who do not regularly visit South Asian countries may be distressed by seeing people living in poverty on the streets of Bangladesh and missing arms and legs as well- but that’s no reason to hide such people. And anyway, people like me, who live in the West but already know about the begging situation in South Asia, might go there expecting to see beggars. They certainly won’t be surprised to see them. In fact they might even be expecting to see more beggars than usual. I’ve been to Pakistan and sometimes it feels like beggars approach us on purpose because they can tell we don’t live there, and so they think we must have money, or would be more likely to give them money than people who do live there would.

I think the whole of South Asia does need to help its beggars, and to rehabilitate its disabled beggars. However, unfortunately, unlike the Cricket World Cup, this process won’t be finished in a few weeks. It will take much longer. It needs to be done seriously. Plans like these need to last, and Bangladeshi authorities  need to realise that locking their own people away just to make Western visitors feel welcome will only make them look stupid in front of the West once the shelters are unlocked.


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