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Interview: Begging in Mumbai

March 9, 2020

  • Since arriving in India I have certainly felt conflicted when approached by beggars. The disparity of wealth here is unlike anywhere I have seen before, particularly in Mumbai – where you will find slums surrounded by skyscrapers bang in the middle of the city.
    There are a few different types of beggars.

    • There’s children – very small children, who will either ask for food/money or try to sell you packets of tissues. Sometimes (I’ve only seen this once, in Delhi), the children will be blind or have a physical deformity. 

    • There are women. Often these women will be holding a baby. According to other sites on the net, sometimes the baby has been drugged so that it sleeps all day. 

    • Gypsy women – often have something extra to sell like henna. They also often ask for you to buy them food as opposed to money – be careful, though, as often shop keepers have deals with the gypsies and will charge you much more than what the product is worth. I paid 250 rupees for a small carton of milk which was probably only work 100.

    • There are older people with physical deformities

  • I had a particularly interesting instance with a teenage beggar when I was in Mumbai. A girl asked me for money so I offered to buy her some food. After a nearby 'juist' store refused her request to sell an apple (they only sell the whole drink, not separate fruit); we tried another nearby store. I told the girl to ask the food vendor for what she wanted, but the man was extremely rude to her and refused to interact. I tried to speak with him after but he stated ‘no English’; although I am sure this was a lie.

  • I was shocked by this interaction. Why was the man so rude to this girl? Was it due to the caste system? Was it because he knew that she was part of a human trafficking organisation and did not want to support it? After researching online I found that local shop owners could be annoyed by beggars as they believe that they are bad for tourism and hence interfere with their business. Hmmm….

Unsatisfied with the answers of the internet, I interviewed a local from Mumbai (who was working at a hostel I was staying at in Palolem). I wanted to know the history of begging too, and when this huge disparity of wealth eventuated.


Please click below for a 10 minute interview with Deep from Mumbai! Big thanks to Deep for your time. 



  Do you agree with what Deep has to say? Please leave your comments below... 








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