Grey areas prevail in beggary law, welfare: expert

Grey areas prevail in beggary law, welfare: expert

The Delhi government should focus on coming up with upgraded rehabilitation schemes which can offer employment opportunities to destitutes in the long run.

Currently, the punitive law convicts a person if found begging. The Social Welfare Department was planning to videograph those asking for alms before producing them at the court where they would be convicted for begging, according to sources in the department. The plan was halted after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted criticising the plan following a report from DH.

Raiding teams also often pick up destitutes from temples or signals mistaking them to be beggars. Officials themselves have also pointed out the grey areas in the law.

The existing rehabilitation units at the government-run beggar homes are lying defunct.

  The department has not revamped plans of rehabilitation like sewing, carpentry, candlemaking for years now. NGOs said the government should be more responsive of the proposals discussed by them.

“Giving vocational training is not enough anymore. Communities should be classified on the basis of their aptitude. People have to be convinced that the government will provide them with alternative options of employment. The government should open up and realise that rounding people up in custody will not work,” said Mohammed Tarique, director of Koshish, an NGO that addresses beggary, destitution and homeless. “The Delhi government can replicate from the Bihar model of rehabilitating beggars in which people are being motivated to earn their livelihood,” pointed out Tarique.

Koshish is a knowledge partner in rehabilitating beggars in Patna with the Bihar government, a project which is being carried on a pilot phase.

Destitutes have been given employment in the hospitality sector, housekeeping, industrial tailoring, jobs as security guards, he added. “A group of six-seven people are selling small items like mobile covers while others have started small-scale businesses as starting a tea stall or fruit carts. There has to be political will too in rehabilitating the poor,” said Tarique. The project is now being extended to six other districts in Bihar — Darbhanga, Gaya, Muzaffarpur, Rohtash, Purnia, Nalanda.

Koshish has started a project around Manosarovar Park in Delhi in which the NGO is training six to seven youths to drive vehicles.

Sunil Kumar Aledia, founder of Centre for Holistic Development, said, “The thought process of the government needs to change. Training destitutes as plumbers, electricians and carpenters do not work once these people come out of the beggar homes. During a recent meeting with the government, we realised the social welfare department has the tendency to categorise any destitute as beggar. This approach needs to change.”

“Most homeless find it difficult to fight stigma after being released from the beggar homes. They also live in constant fear of being arrested any time. We discuss a set of dos and don’ts while briefing people at shelter homes. They are given tips on how to handle the situation when raiding teams approach them,” said Asif Iqbal, heading Koshish’s Delhi team.

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