The government’s decision to make some areas of Dhaka city “beggar-free” zones is a commendable one. However, when addressing the problem of begging, we must be careful to look at all sides of the issue and provide a lasting solution for those who make a living by begging, and not just for those who are inconvenienced by beggars.
Prohibiting begging in some areas of the capital, such as the airport and diplomatic areas, is a good idea -- cracking down on the petty harassment and minor misdemeanors that some beggars engage in sends a message and sets a tone.
This, in turn, helps reduce incidences of more major disturbances. The improved environment goes a long way in creating a safer and more liveable city for all.
There is a lot that government programs can do to take care of indigent people
However, it is imperative for the government to provide a lasting solution for beggars. Those who beg for a living have basic human rights just like anyone else, and we must make sure the Tk30 lakh allocated for the rehabilitation program is spent wisely. In fact, far more most likely needs to be allocated.
If more funds are required, a modest tax on car-owners, who would be the beneficiaries of a ban, would not be out of place.
The government needs to make sure proper and effective rehabilitation is actually taking place, and that the money is not being wasted or stolen. There is a lot that government programs can do to take care of indigent people -- from soup kitchens, to public housing, to employment generation programs.
It’s not enough to take beggars off the street. Let’s make sure they have somewhere to go.