Begging is the unique art of wringing another’s conscience (or patience) sufficiently enough to make it submit in substantial measure to one’s entreaties. The result one seeks could be either a few coins, a raise, a promotion or in the case of the two richest beggars of our times, the chance to form a club of the richest charitable donors in the world. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet made news prior to their visit to China with the much publicised objective to rope in some of the freshest members of the billionaire club to join them on their journey to immortality through their stage managed redistribution of concentrated wealth. They have made similar overtures towards the Indian millionaires as well.
Evolving idea of charity
Societies in China and India have mirroring trajectories of the rags to riches cycle. Diverging only in the political chapters, the morals from tales in all other aspects of one society could just as easily be applied to the other. Begging in this part of the world, at least the destitutional kind, has a long and complex history. It is only natural that a society with surplus manpower, limited natural resources and a history of concentrated and hierarchical flow of wealth and power should find beggars weaved generously into it’s social fabric. Their survival relies mainly on the mercy shown by the ruling class while their quality of life is dictated by the collective conscience of their neighbourhood. For most parts, begging is a feature of cities and other pilgrimage towns or tourist destinations that creates a noticeable disparity between the haves and the have nots. As a result, everybody in this society imbibes the technique of dealing with beggars very early in their childhood by emulating their guardians and elders. With such an overwhelming pool of lower and middle class folks (nursing aspirations of joining the wealthy class) it is not surprising that most among them grow up with pragmatism as the driving force in dealing with beggars. Compassionate perspective is a rarity. For the working class who drone about their lives trying to fulfill their emotional inheritance of providing a better life for their immediate and extended families, beggars are usually viewed as the lazy bunch rather than the unfortunate ones.