In Rishikesh, foreign beggars vie with Indian beggars

Dehra Dun : In the holy city of Rishikesh, which is drawing thousands of pilgrims from all over the country at this time of the year, a number of foreigners can be seen along the streets of the city  begging, with the Indian beggars.

While some of them have taken to performing acts in which they are skilled, including playing guitars, others have opted to sit down on the streets, with small placards stating that they are broke and need the funds to return home.

Foreigners begging
Foreigners begging

The district authorities here claim that there is not much that they can do about it as there is nothing which bans begging, unless it becomes intimidating to the people. In fact they admit, that it is better if the foreigners can make the money for their return trip and go back home.

They said that most of them come to the city to lean yoga and the art of meditating at the number of ashrams that have come up along the Ganga. While some of them are affluent and can afford to stay honourably, others  have to take to begging when their funds finish, they claimed.

However, the authorities said that the use of misuse of drugs could not be ruled out in some of the cases. Quite a few of the foreigners who one can see on the streets begging are perhaps drug addicts or have become drug addicts and have taken to the streets to meet their money requirements, they pointed out.

They said that while on a tourist visa the foreigners cannot work and as such though most of them are qualified and some of them are even professionals, they are forced to take to begging to make some money, as they cannot take work anywhere, despite their qualification and professional expertise.

They said that it is not uncommon now to see foreigners playing guitars or performing some other acts on the streets and seeking alms from the people. Most of them eat their meals free of cost at the various ashrams and some of them also sleep there and hope to collect enough money so that they can make their trip back, they maintained.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

1 Comment

  • nice article…..something I have not read anywhere earlier……nothing better than playing guitar in the streets and begging for food and money to make a trip back…..could be termed (on a lighter note) as “FDI in begging”

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