Beggars in India Create Their Own Bank

Some beggars in India have chosen to take issues into their own hands and have started the first bank in their country run by beggars for beggars.

Begging is a controversial issue in India. In one of the poorest countries in the world, millions of people turn to begging for a lack of a better alternative. At the same time, there are many able-bodied and even well-educated people, who use begging as a supplement to their professional income. While the government has its focus on criminalizing beggars, instead of rehabilitating them, some beggars have chosen to take issues into their own hands and have started the first bank in India run by beggars for beggars.


The co-operative bank is called Mangala Bank and is situated in the town of Gaya. It was opened by beggars who have been depending on alms from devotees at the gate of the temple "Maa Manglagauri Mandir" for their survival. The bank allows beggars, who often don’t have appropriate proof of identification, to open an account and save the alms they receive. The bank’s members deposit 20 Rupees — approximately $0.35 — every Tuesday, totaling 800 Rupees per week. The bank also helps in times of emergency.

Raj Kumar Manjhi, one of the members of the bank, says:

"Early this month, my daughter and sister sustained burn injuries while cooking. The bank has provided me a loan of Rs.8,000 for their medical treatment. It is an example of how the bank can help a beggar like me without any paper work or guarantor as practiced in nationalized and private banks." 

Manjhi had a month before he started repaying the loan at a 3 to 5 percent interest rate.

The beggars were encouraged to start their own bank by officials of the State Society for Ultra Poor and Social Welfare in 2014. The bank allows the beggars to be able to save money for the future for the first time in their lives.

Mangala Bank has a manager, treasurer, and secretary along with one agent and other members, who are running and managing it. They say that what is unique about their bank is the fact that it is owned and managed by beggars who decide on the rules and regulations themselves. 

Photo credit: Flickr

Countries with more butter have happier citizens

Butter supply and life satisfaction are linked – but by causation or correlation?

Image: Carey Tilden/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0
Strange Maps
  • Haiti and other countries with low butter supply report low life satisfaction.
  • The reverse is true for countries like Germany, which score high in both categories.
  • As the graph below shows, a curious pattern emerges across the globe. But is it causation or correlation?
Keep reading Show less

One-third of all slavery is visible from space

Advances in satellite imagery are shining a light.

Boyd et al., 2018
Technology & Innovation
  • Today, there are 40.3 million slaves on the planet, more than the number of people living in Canada.
  • Slavery can be hard to find, but it commonly occurs in several key industries like fishing and mining.
  • Using satellite data, researchers and activists are using crowdsourcing and artificial intelligence to identify sites where slavery is taking place.
Keep reading Show less

Will Hunt (explorer) – into the Earth: the mysteries and meanings of underground spaces

The catacombs of Paris. Secret graffiti beneath NYC. The hidden cities of Cappadocia. Writer and explorer Will Hunt is your philosophical tour guide to what lies beneath.

Think Again Podcasts
  • "The surface of the earth is where we're rational . . . Part of us dreads the chaos, and part of us is always attracted to it."
  • "There were these things hanging from the ceiling…long strands of bacteria called "snotsicles"… But at our feet was a natural stream that had been running through Brooklyn forever."
  • "It's…about death. Undergoing a death. We're going into the other world and then retreating to the surface… changed in some way."
Keep reading Show less