Thursday, Sep 23, 2021 09:15 [IST]

Last Update: Thursday, Sep 23, 2021 03:36 [IST]

Walking Down The Street

Dear Editor,
Through the columns of your esteemed newspaper, I would like to put a little focus on the ongoing heart wrenching scenario in our peaceful state of Sikkim.
My opinion is about my perception towards the vision of the scene around me of whose I am responsible for the consequences. Hence, before I, move further towards the scene I have been witnessing every day since few years. I want the readers to look the scenario as social phenomenon rather personal presumptions
Sikkim has always remained as peaceful and civilised state in my eyes, as we have less witnessed social unjust and unrest in our State. I am less concerned with the ups and downs in our State as it’s always a part of change in an economy, but the recent trend of increase in the numbers of beggars in the streets of Sikkim has left me in an opinion that, are we really moving towards more civilised world or now we are riding towards poverty and slums.
What I recall from my childhood days is that, I had witnessed few insane people around Sikkim, who sometime begged for food and stuffs; later on few disabled people came into the picture and started begging money. As, the fact, of we Sikkimese being tender hearted   can’t be denied, also do care less about other people business so, we almost don’t hesitate giving money to those beggars out of pity.
I too am, touched by this kind of incident where people are unable to earn their livelihood and helplessly start begging as their profession. I have also donated over money many times in my life, but what is really striking me now is as, I am seeing more and more children running around the streets of MG Marg and its surrounding and asking for money to the people passing by.
Is begging legal in the eyes of law? Do child begging still exists? Are the citizens of Sikkim becoming poorer day by day where they are sending their children to beg on streets? Or some hidden racket prevailing in other States of India is holding its foot in Sikkim?
The answer is far unknown, it has been a major topic of concern for me, as every day when I am pass by the street, I see children’s  about the age of 8 to 12 years, dressed in rags, with hope in their sulky eyes asks me “Sister, please give me some  money”. I am unable to resist myself from passing them a 10 rupee note; afterwards I feel awkward and cannot digest the fact that people like me are giving them hope that, they can go on begging for lifetime, without the need of working.
Begging is an act of asking for charity either in terms of food, items or money etc. In this globalised era, it is of no surprise that there is a wide gap between haves and haves not, also the scenario is worse due to the outbreak of Pandemic like COVID-19. It would have been of no reference if the talk was about other States of India, where the millionaires and beggars co-exist in every realms of life and no organisation either Government or Non- government has been able to feed all those hungry stomach.
If we give ourselves an explanation that we live in a developing economy, so it’s possible that petty crimes, theft, beggars, etc can prevail as there is long way to go before we generate employment and educational opportunities for masses and lift the poor people from their current state of helplessness.
Turing our focus on Sikkim, if we give a closer look than, we can find that the increase in the numbers of street beggars, lunatic persons, insane persons, handicapped and disabled ones are of recent phenomenon, even small child of 2 to 3 yrs has been witnessed alone in streets with utensils in hand in our State, in the recent past.
Calculating the pros and cons of what is going on in our state there comes two things in the picture. Is it possible that, Sikkim is now going down in terms of per capita income? Is there a possibility of some human trafficking racket going under our eyes? Or the answer is that those people are not from Sikkim and has migrated from other Countries or States?
Either of the above or many other hidden possibilities is possible, still the possibility remains, begging for livelihood is a worse scenario as far as what academic and religious books has taught us so far, but are we talking about those, who are really distressed and needy or those who are capable and unwilling. Whatever the cause and possibility may be, but are we really uplifting our society by throwing money on those who are spreading their hands, or we are giving them motivation to spread more every day.
As a human and an educated being, I am unwilling to see Children’s who are of age to attend schools are wasting their time and effort begging on the streets. Who are they? From where have they come from? Who are their parents? Where they live when the night falls? These are the questions I, have been encountering every day and every time, I pass by the street of MG Marg.
Most of the time I have ignored them recently when I thought of taking them to Police for verification, those people are reluctant to talk, those children runaway from my grip when I ask about them and their parents. These kind of situation is making me wonder that, our peaceful State is no more safe, if children’s and adults with no proper identity is wandering in the streets begging and acting like insane and we are left without a trace.
What amuses me is as we all know that begging is prohibited and illegal in the eyes of law, and even many Constitutional Amendments and Provisions are strictly focused on the issue of Child and their wellbeing, Human Rights etc. Also, many department’s sections in any State and Union Secretariat can been seen working towards such cause by formulating plans and strategies to overcome such scenario, side by side every State has Human Rights Cell, where Police Personnel are of part.
The concern is, when, lots of effort has already laid by our administration and Judiciary, ignoring the whole picture of world and whole India, when we just take an instance of Sikkim state, where every 1 in 10 person are either known or can be known in near future, such a small state, still we see people begging in front of Police Booth and no organisation and administration is coming forward to address this kind of situation jumping in front of their eyes.
How come, the situation of rising numbers of beggars and homeless, is still yet to be encountered by Police Department, Social Welfare Department, NGOs, Media, Childhelpline of Sikkim, or is it that to take an active, we as a concerned public have not played our part by putting forth a complaint against it?
So, as a part of my initiate towards the rising concern of Children’s future and human rights and dignity of Sikkim, I would like to urge the above mentioned administration and Civil Societies to shift your focus to small things like begging, as to stop it from taking its shape to something else in future. Also, the general public like us should be aware and concerned towards this small issue or else, in the near future we will be able to witness the never existed slums in Sikkim too.
If this kind of situation persists, than we can probably assume that in no more time Sikkim will be the next safe venture for the human traffickers and thieves to open their business. My concern is the safety and prosperity of every individual, no children should be barred from attending school just because they are poor or orphan and no individual should be forced to spread their hands for feeding themselves and their family. If this trend goes on, our State can no more rely on its population who are civilised and educated, as soon those people who are wandering in the streets as beggars and insane will build slums in our State and let us witness what the real poverty would look like.
Before the dark falls upon us, let us come forward and address this issue of concern, no matter what we do, each one of us can complain to Child helpline, Social Welfare Department, Human trafficking cell, Police Department, etc when we witness beggars in the streets of Sikkim. Let us come forward and help those in need by sending them to destitute homes if they are genuinely poor or help the concern department to identify if there is some bigger picture like human trafficking running behind the smaller picture of begging.
It’s high time, to protect the coming generations and guide them to build a future and also its time that we protect our State from threats and possibilities of some big trouble. Let us not ruin the image of our beautiful and peaceful State. Let us not close our eyes after witnessing the wrong deeds, as our ancestors and forefathers has created a history of integrity and capability and has help us build a future of dignity for us, as we Sikkimese had never been witnessed to beg and spread our hands for sustaining our livelihoods, let us hope for a future of peace and harmony and create a history of civilization and development to live well and prosperous and gift our generations to come.
Your’s etc,
Priyanka Basnet
Chinzey Rumtek

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi