Bihar aims to be beggar-free by 2021 by turning vagabonds into vendors, artists
Bihar is proving the old adage-- Beggars can’t be choosers—wrong by giving them a choice of a respectable profession and a shot at a dignified induction into the mainstream of the society, while ridding the state of the scourge at the same time, said an official.
Under a Bhikshavritti Niwaran Yojna or a scheme to rid beggars of the habit, being run by the State Society for Ultra Poor and Some Welfare, SAKSHAM, Beggars, under this programme, are being asked if they want to become entrepreneurs or publicity managers for government programmes.
The programme, with twin objectives of eliminating begging and rehabilitating beggars, has so far managed to give financial support to 18 beggars for starting their own business. At a function held at the SAKSHAM office in Patna, each of the 18 beggars was given a cheque of Rs 10,000.They have also been provided Aadhar cards and regular bank accounts.
“Some of them want to start selling vegetables while others want to sell other items,” said a SAKSHAM official. He added that the agency has set a target to provide financial support to 100 beggars in Patna.
It’s the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment which is running this Bhikshavritti Nivaran Yojna in 10 cities of the country and Patna has been made a part of this. The other cities covered under this project are Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Indore, Nagpur, Hyderabad and Bengaluru.
SAKSHAM, a part of Bihar’s social welfare department, is the implementing agency of this project.
“This project is, in fact, a replication of Mukhyamantri Bhikshavritti Nivaran Yojna started by the state government in 2008-9. It was intended to protect and promote the rights of beggars and to ensure their care and development through socio-economic policies,” Dayanidhan Pandey, the SAKSHAM director, said before adding that the Union government had adopted the same project and extended it to other states.
The rehabilitation of beggars also includes a choice to return home to their families. Others may stay at the government care institutions and learn skills for setting up their own small business or get trained as salesperson.
This project has been running in 12 districts of the state including in Patna, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Purnia, Gaya, Nalanda, Rohtas, Katihar, Bhagalpur, Saran, Araria and in Vaishali..
Ashok Chaudhary, the social welfare minister, said, there’s a plan to make Patna beggar-free by March 2021.
“Beggars are being identified and being motivated to stop asking for alms and instead start their own work,” he said.
Over 2200 beggars have been identified in the state capital. SAKSHAM official Randhir Kumar said that many do not want to leave begging.
“In fact, they have become so used to this kind of living that they don’t want to stop it. Recently we tried to identify their interests and passions to give them the opportunity to pursue it. Some were found to be interested in singing while many others have acting abilities,” he said.
The agency says the multiple talents found among the beggars can be used for creating awareness among the poor about government welfare programmes.
“They may do street plays and motivate others to avail the facilities provided to them by the government,” Kumar added.
For the male beggars, there are seven rehabilitation centres known as Seva Kutirs and six short stay homes, known as Shanti Kutirs, in the state.
“Patna also has Basera, the day and night shelter with a kitchen. The government has decided to start Baseras in all districts of the state. In the first phase, 25 such facilities are to be created at the government-run Buniyaad Kendras in different districts,” said a government official.
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