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February 24, 2018

Homeless in Maharashtra to get vocational training under new “beggar free scheme”


Mumbai : More than 70,000 beggars in Maharashtra may soon become a productive workforce for the state. A beggar-free scheme, initiated by the Charity Commission and supported by 20-25 individuals, government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is set to provide vocational training to the homeless within two weeks.

The scheme is a brainchild of Shivkumar Dighe, charity commissioner, Maharashtra who is in talks with district officers of women and child development, trusts and NGO members running shelter homes in the state to create a framework for the scheme.

“There is a large void of workforce in small-scale industries and individual professions such as tailoring, security guards, and medical caretakers. We aim to place these homeless persons, considering their natural inclination and expertise, and train them to be qualified for various occupations,” said Dighe.

Officials from women and child development departments and Maharashtra police are likely to play a major role as they share close contact with the homeless persons. A pilot project will kick off in Mumbai, which is home to approximately 20,000 beggars.

Pravin Bhaskar, district women and child development officer (Mumbai city) said that for 15 to 30 days, participants will watch in video format success stories of individuals with little or no resources. Some of these achievers will also visit them for motivational talks.

“We know that if we enrol them directly in training programmes, they will quit and return to their street life. Hence first, we will motivate them to participate and complete the programme, which can prove to be life-changing for them,” said Bhaskar.

For minors, the scheme is set to start education programmes to ensure that more number of children enrol in schools. Various shelter homes run by the WCD department and NGOs as well as individuals working in the field will be approached to make sure the rate of education increases amongst the homeless children. Those who wish to go back to their families will be reunited in order to offer family support.

A similar scheme was successfully run in Pune where over 2,200 children were offered education. According to the officials, the children have continued to pursue studies and have quit begging or doing odd jobs on streets.

Begging is a considered a crime in the country under the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959. The act’s aim is to remove beggars from their current illegal profession so that they may be detained, trained and eventually employed elsewhere. However, individuals working for the homeless have alleged that the police detain and release the homeless for minor bribes, forcing them back to the streets.

Note: News shared for public awareness with reference from the information provided at online news portals.

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