I’m a supporter and a defender of humanity. I advocate freedom. Freedom of choice, freedom of movement, freedom of speech, and other fundamental rights which we see written down on the bill of rights, Napoleonic code, Magna Carta and in the Universal declaration of Human rights.
During the past ten years there was a rapid series of changes happened in the Maldivian society. Local islands opened for tourists, budget deficit increased, purchasing power of Maldivian Rufiyaa decreased, government began taking tax from goods and services and so on. For an individual who have three mouths to feed, these are not useful changes to him. It increased the weight of the heavy burden he carries on his shoulder. Businesses started cutting down expenses by reducing the number of it’s workers. This resulted further unemployment. To summarize everything short, – The living condition of Maldivian people has decreased in the past 10 years. Those who have their ends meet before became their pockets empty before 15th of the month. Those who suffered misfortunes got themselves forced to go out of the streets and beg for food and money.
I saw a few times, not locals, but expats from Bangladesh, begging on the highway of Fuvahmulah where tourists walk from side to side. They do it when tourists walk there for sightseeing and visiting shops. This is embarrassing to me and other Fuvahmulaku people also.
On the roads of Male’, five years ago we don’t see people begging except a few. Fast forward five years and today, from my own eyes I met more than ten. Few at the Bank, one at the ATM, three near Hospital and so on. What made our people fallen into such a low grade? What made them to remove all their clothes of dignity and ask people for money?
Begging is an embarrassing activity. It‘s embarrassing not only for those who beg, but also for us. It means the society don’t care about it’s people, we don’t care about one another and government don’t care about it’s subjects. A society won’t function this way.
People end up begging on the street because they have their basic needs unmet. It’s either food, shelter or medicine. These are the most basic resources a human being would need if they want to be alive. He will do anything to acquire these resources. The people beg on the streets because they have to meet these needs. Every individual I spoke has their story rooted down to one of those three things. If someone can provide these three things the problem will be solved. The question is who is going to help them?
Since this is a problem the whole society should take responsibility for, it‘s the government who is suppose to do something about it. Government is created by the people for the people. It is a responsibility of the government to maintain safety and security within the society and protect rights of individuals.
On behalf of society, government should provide it to them. Government can build places where food is available to those who are in need or give it to a third party. For medical care it is much easier for the government because they already own health institutions. By giving free and fast medical care to those who cannot afford will solve the medical problem. Finally by creating special housing scheme and putting people into those houses will solve the housing problem.
After this has done, it is important to encourage people to receive these benefits. To do this it is advisable to pass a law to make begging out law. It may look like this law would take some freedom away from people. But that is not the purpose of this law. It should be made only after the government start providing everything those special help people need. So that banning will not harm anyone and at the same time encourage people to go and receive the service from government institutions. This is how Singapore has done it and it was a success.
Right now India is experimenting the same thing by providing subsidized medicine and food in south India. At the same time banning begging on the street. So far it has been also a success. Another advantage of outlawing begging is that it will stop Bangladeshi workers begging from tourists. This issue became so common that we can stop it only by passing a law. This will stop them begging and instead, look forward to produce something valuable and sell it to tourists. Another win win.
Though begging on the street springs as a byproduct of capitalism. We cannot avoid this sort of inequality, though we can work together to reduce the gap between haves and have-nots. Individuals can do what they can on individual level and government can do what it can on a larger scale. In the end everyone is satisfied.