Bharat Jain, World’s Richest Beggar with a Net Worth of Nearly One Million USD

by Piya Sengupta11 months ago
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Picture Bharat Jain, World’s Richest Beggar with a Net Worth of Nearly One Million USD

Is this another story of a “ Slumdog Millionaire”?

Except that, in the case of the movie, the story was entirely fictitious. But the story of Bharat Jain, a beggar on the streets of Mumbai, starting from a life of poverty to becoming almost a millionaire, unbelievable as it may sound, is a true fact.

Today, with a net worth of INR 7.5 crores (almost one million USD), he has become famous worldwide, and most media outlets have labeled him the “World’s Richest Beggar.” The story was featured on television, social media, and in newspapers all over the world, making Bharat Jain famous, as everyone talked about his life feat.

So, how rich is he, exactly?

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Meet Bharat Jain,  India’s Richest Beggar

Born in poverty, Bharat Jain could not finish his education. Life was hard for him and his family without any earnings. To top it off, Bharat Jain lived (and still lives) in Mumbai, India’s financial capital and home of Bollywood, where the cost of living is extremely high. He started begging on the streets for 10 to 12 hours a day to meet his monetary needs. Slowly, his monthly income from begging reached INR 60,000 to  INR 75,000 ($750 to $900). His usual begging areas are around the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station and Azad Maidan sports ground. Both of these locations are among the most prime locations in Mumbai. The Historic Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly Victoria Terminus, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Mumbai, India, and sprawling with commuters throughout the day and night. He got lucky, relying on other people’s kindness, and his earnings skyrocketed over the years.

Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Image Credit: Ingo Mehling/Wikimedia.org

Today, he is supposedly the richest beggar in India and assumedly of the world. His net worth is INR 7.5 crores, which is equivalent to almost a million USD. But Bharat’s story is an exception and not the norm. Even those in the middle class in India, toiling for eight to 10 hours a day in their professions, do not possess such wealth.

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Bharat Jain’s Journey From Rags to Riches

1 BHK apartment in Parel
1 BHK Apartment in Parel. Image Credit: Desinema.com

According to the latest data on the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), in the last 15 years, India has witnessed 415 million people exiting at or below the poverty line.

Bharat Jain came from poverty. The only livelihood he knows is “begging,” and he has managed to turn it bizarrely profitable. His family includes his wife, two sons, a brother, and his father. He invested his earnings in real estate to be able to earn returns from it. Now he owns a two-bedroom apartment in Mumbai worth INR 1.2 crore ( $145,000) and two rental shops in Thane that generate a monthly rental income of INR 30,000 ($370). Though he could not finish his education, his two sons studied in English convent schools. Other members of his family now run a stationery store and have successfully come out of poverty. Bharat and his family live in a one-bedroom, hall, and kitchen apartment in Parel, Mumbai.

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Clearly, his entire family is now living above the poverty line. But why does he still beg? Despite his family’s multiple requests to stop begging, Bharat still spends 10 to 12 hours a day on the streets of India’s financial metropolis.

Are There Begging Laws in India?

begging laws in India
Begging Laws in India.

In India, there is no central law that penalizes begging. But a few states and union territories have their anti-begging laws that were formed based on ” The Bombay Prevention of Begging Act of 1959 ” According to this act, a “beggar” is a person without any visible means of subsistence, and “begging” includes soliciting, or receiving alms in a public place, whether or not while singing, dancing, fortune telling, or showing signs of sickness, deformity, etc. But this act also gives the police the power to arrest or detain any beggar without a warrant.

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By that definition, the fact that Bharat Jain continues to beg on the streets, in spite of being almost a millionaire, is somewhat odd. While most people in India who work 10 to 12 hours a day might not earn even the equivalent of $10, he still manages to get INR 2,000 to INR 2,500 ($25 to $35) every day, just because of the kindness of people.

What do you think of Bharat Jain? He may have been poverty-stricken, needing help from strangers a while back, but definitely not anymore.

So, what does that make him today? A beggar or a scammer?

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Picture Bharat Jain, World’s Richest Beggar with a Net Worth of Nearly One Million USD
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