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Games - India's beggars eye Commonwealth windfall, attend classes

A boy begs for alms at a traffic intersection in Mumbai February 4, 2009. REUTERS/Arko Datta/Files

CHENNAI, India (Reuters) - Beggars in the Indian capital are eyeing a windfall from tourists during next year’s Commonwealth Games and some are learning to ask for alms in foreign languages, according to a newspaper report on Sunday.

“More than one lakh (100,000) foreigners will be in the city during the period,” Vijay Babli, reported by Hindustan Times as the leader of over 1,200 beggar families living in New Delhi’s Rohini’s Lal Quarter, told the paper.

“Even if one beggar earns 150-200 rupees per day ($3-4), you can understand the turnover for us,” he added.

The multi-sports event is scheduled to be held in October 2010.

An informal academy had been set up in the colony and children given coaching to beg in foreign languages, the paper said.

“Bright children are taught how to say phrases like, ‘I am an orphan, I have not eaten for days, I am ill, have no money for medicine, please help me in the name of God’,” Raju Sansi, reported as a head tutor at the school, told Hindustan Times.

Patni, an eight year-old girl who had never been to school, could speak English, French and Spanish, thanks to the makeshift school, the paper said.

Real foreign currency notes were shown to the children so they can recognise them, Patlu, who trains some of the children in Katputli Colony in west Delhi’s Patel Nagar, told the paper.

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