- Recently, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has formulated a scheme SMILE – Support for Marginalized Individuals for Livelihood and Enterprise.
- It includes a sub-scheme – ‘Central Sector Scheme for Comprehensive Rehabilitation of persons engaged in the act of Begging.
- Currently, a pilot project of it is ongoing in 7 cities namely Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Indore, Lucknow, Nagpur and Patna.
- It is a new Scheme after the merger of existing Schemes for Beggars and Transgenders.
- Scheme provides for the use of the existing shelter homes available with the State/UT Governments and Urban local bodies for rehabilitation of the persons engaged in the act of Begging.
- In case of non-availability of existing shelter homes, new dedicated shelter homes are to be set up by the implementing agencies.
- The focus of the scheme is extensively on rehabilitation, provision of medical facilities, counseling, basic documentation, education, skill development, economic linkages and so on.
- It is estimated that an approximate 60,000 poorest persons would be benefited under this scheme for leading a life of dignity.
- It will be implemented with the support of State/UT Governments/Local Urban Bodies, Voluntary Organizations, Community Based Organizations (CBOs) , institutions and others.
- It will be a comprehensive scheme for persons engaged in the act of begging.
- The scheme has been implemented in the selected cities on pilot basis having large concentrations of the Beggar community.
- During the year 2019-20, this Ministry had released an amount of Rs. 1 Crore to National Institute of Social Defence (NISD) and Rs. 70 Lakh to National Backward Classes Finance & Development Corporation (NBCFDC) for skill development programmes for beggars.
- According to the Census 2011 ,the total number of beggars in India is 4,13,670 (including 2,21,673 males and 1,91,997 females) and the number has increased from the last census.
- West Bengal tops the chart followed by Uttar Pradesh and Bihar at number two and three respectively. Lakshadweep merely has two vagrants according to the 2011 census.
- Among the union territories, New Delhi had the largest number of beggars 2,187 followed by 121 in Chandigarh.
- Among the northeastern states, Asam topped the chart with 22,116 beggars, while Mizoram ranked low with 53 beggars.
- Recently, the Supreme Court has agreed to examine a plea for decriminalising begging which has been made an offense in various states under Prevention of Begging Act.
SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT