If Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil has his way, Mumbai’s bar girls would soon be appointed as home guards. He’s serious. Really.
The women have been out of work since last August when Patil got the bars banned. Now, he’s offering this alternative employment scheme, and a chance to serve society.
“The proposal came up last month during a meeting to provide jobs to the women. The proposal is under serious consideration,” Patil told HT on Thursday. Home Department sources said Patil is waiting for feedback from the bar dancers’ association before making an official announcement.
Director-General of Home Guards P.K.B. Chakravarty has already given his assent. “Anyone can work as a home guard; there is no bar on enrolling as long as they meet the requirements,” he said.
Bar girls, though, have reacted with caution. Welcoming the move to provide alternative employment, Bar Girls’ Union president Varsha Kale said: “It shouldn’t remain a mere statement like the employment guarantee that Patil announced earlier.” She said that most bar girls are used to an urban lifestyle, so the government should consider giving them assignments within 25 km of radius of Mumbai.
“It’s not that we can’t work in rural areas, but people there look down upon us.” She also wondered whether there was a hidden agenda: “Is it that the government wants to impress the Supreme Court through this move, since a PIL filed on the issue is coming up in August?”
Former bar girl Rekha was more enthusiastic. “We are ready to die for the country,” she said. “We’ll take up the postings, not for money, but for the country. We’ve earned a lot, now it’s time to repay… I’ll join up along with 1.75 lakh dancers.” WHO CAN BECOME A HOME GUARD Any citizen without a police case against him/her. Minimum education: Std 8. Age: 18 to 35. THE PAY Rs 75 for first 10 hours of duty, Rs 15 for every additional hour. WHAT BAR GIRLS MADE From Rs 300 to Rs 5,000 per night.