With the coming of digital payments into our lives, things seem to have become easier. For example, small roadside stalls now have a UPI barcode stuck on them and many customers don’t have to worry about carrying Rs 100 worth of change. However, one wouldn’t expect a beggar to follow suit.
According to The Indian Express, Raju Patel, a beggar from Bihar, has gotten rid of the traditional method of seeking alms. Updating himself with the times, Raju now uses online wallets and digital payment apps and asks people to send him money via online methods. He has also put a QR code around his neck.
Many people have started to address him as “India’s first digital beggar”.
Bihar | Raju Patel, a beggar in Bettiah, goes digital; accepts PhonePe & puts a QR code around his neck
"I accept digital payments, it's enough to get the work done & fill my stomach," said Raju Patel
Visuals from Bettiah railway station pic.twitter.com/nbw83uXop6
— ANI (@ANI) February 8, 2022
However, Raju’s condition has started a debate online. A lot of people seemed to think that technology and digital literacy is helping to eradicate poverty.
— Arpit Lohia (@arpitlohia) February 8, 2022
— Abdul Sathar Uchil (@SatharUchil) February 8, 2022
However, many pointed out that while Raju is accepting digital payments, he is still begging; he is still poor. We shouldn’t be glorifying this, many said.
Only a socialist country will glorify begging. Ask that person to stop begging and find a real job. There is nothing fantastic and dignifying about begging. https://t.co/RM0IShzmLB
— Rohit Bapat 🇮🇳 (@rhtbapat) February 8, 2022
How is this immoral, and fundamentally different from surviving on freebies from State with digital and other assorted empowerments? https://t.co/ZWYJmFAYKY
— SailorSaab (@SailorSaab) February 8, 2022
‘Beggary’ and not digital payment should be the focus in this piece. Rethinking priorities! https://t.co/OyJxzQKLof
— Vinita Singh (@iVinita11) February 8, 2022
Why UPI has lead to fetishization of poverty.
Digital payments don't remove poverty. https://t.co/gzl5yGh5ML
— हीलियोस (@PostSuspension1) February 8, 2022
It is true that while the method of begging might be amusing, the man still suffers from poverty. Instead of giving a positive spin to his story, maybe people can come forward and help him instead?