Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A Bank run by panhandlers ?

Have you ever heard of a bank founded by the beggars, run by them and for them? Does it sound weird? Perhaps, you may think it is silly. In the Indian state of Bihar enterprising beggars  run a bank in Gaya town, a major center for Buddhism. The beggars collect deposit, manage funds and provide loans. Loans to whom? For them only.
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Begging or panhandling - the practice of imploring others to grant a favor, often a gift of money has been around for centuries. They are found in public places, market places, bazaars, etc., In India  they are found  near temples, churches, etc., where lots of people visit. With booming economy in the last several years, begging has come down considerably in India. One can hardly ever see beggars nowadays except a few famous temples.

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In this world of unstable economy, unpredictable market trend, people from all walks of life need protection to get through the bad days. The smart, business-minded panhandlers have joined the band wagon, because they badly need financial security. Panhandling is legally forbidden in India, risky, insecure and sensitive to economy. The bank employees, treasurer, agent and the manager one Mr. Manjhi are all beggars.  Bank ' agent Vanarik Paswan's duty is to collect Rs.20.00 weekly (ever Tuesday) from all the members.
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 A member can get  a loan  to meet medical expenses, etc and the interest is just 2. 5% payable following month. No guarantor, no collateral and all the hassles. Beggars are encouraged to start their own bank by the officials of the state society for the ultra poor to meet their financial need.

Three are 40 honorable members in the bank called ''Mangala bank'' and their official occupation is begging. Place of work: near  Mangala Gauri Mandir (temple) in Gaya which is thronged by devotees. If business is not good, they might change location. Many people in India want to wash off sins committed by them knowingly or unknowingly so,  they make a small donation to them, not more than Rs.10.00. Temples form an ideal place for the beggars, as many of them are crowded. On auspicious days, they will have a swell time, going home with a big bag of money. No hassles from the Income tax people.
 

After all there is nothing dishonorable about begging because these unfortunate people neither cheat nor rob somebody to make a living. Recently, during  the election time a disgruntled voter said,
 '' Begging is more honorable than getting illegal-gratification that is prevalent among some of our politicians and government workers''.
 

Ref:  ''A bank run by beggars for beggars in Bihar town,'' The Hindu  Business Line of March 28, 2015