The Bihar government plans to alter the socio-economic dynamic of the state by attempting to provide jobs to beggars. The aim is to rid the state of beggars by providing them with a choice of a respectable profession, consequently enabling their absorption into the society.
The State Society for Ultra Poor and Some Welfare (SAKSHAM) SAKSHAM, is running the Bhikshavriti Niwaran Yojana - programme to eradicate the habit of begging - wherein beggars will be offered to become entrepreneurs or publicity managers for government programmes and schemes.
As of now, 18 beggars have been provided with Aadhar cards, regular bank accounts, as well as financial support of Rs 10,000 each to begin work on their own business. The said funding was given at a function held at the SAKSHAM office in Patna; the plan is to support 100 beggars in the capital city.
"Some of them want to start selling vegetables while others want to sell other items," a SAKSHAM official told The Hindustan Times.
The Bhikshavriti Nivaran Yojana is run by the Union ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in 10 cities of the country. Besides Patna, there is Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Indore, Nagpur, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru. SAKSHAM is a part of Bihar's social welfare department and is at the forefront of this project's implementation.
Also Read: Farmers to pay tribute to deceased protesters on December 20"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," said Dayanidhan Pandey, Director at SAKSHAM.
The rehabilitation process gives a choice to the beggars to either return home to their families, or stay at government care institutions. They can opt for the latter option to learn skills required for setting up a business, or get trained as a sales person.
Districts other than Patna where the project is running in the state include Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Purnia, Gaya, Nalanda, Rohtas, Katihar, Bhagalpur, Saran, Araria, and Vaishali.
"Beggars are being identified and being motivated to stop asking for alms and instead start their own work," said Ashok Chaudhary, the social welfare minister. He added that there's a plan laid out to make Patna beggar-free by March next year.
A SAKSHAM official - Randhir Kumar also mentioned that of the 2200 recognized beggars in Patna, many do not want to quit begging and "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 added.
The agency adds that exercising the various talents of beggars can be used in a creative manner to spread awareness among the poor regarding government welfare schemes.
"They may do street plays and motivate others to avail the facilities provided to them by the government," Kumar added.
Currently, Bihar holds seven rehabilitation centres known as Seva Kutirs, and six short stay homes known as Shanti Kutirs. These thirteen places of accommodation cater to the male beggars, while "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. As of now, Patna has one Basera, which is essentially a day-night shelter with a kitchen provision.