Behaviour such as roaming around, sitting in the same posture for ages and shouting out loud may not sound as skills for gainful employment, especially if these belong to beggars. But the government of Bihar has identified these very skills to rehabilitate beggars in jobs such as publicizing information about women’s health care? and HIV/AIDS.
The government is also looking for employment opportunity in companies where they can be used for publicizing the products by wearing branded products.
Attempts have been made to rehabilitate beggars traditionally in handicraft works, but such attempts have largely failed. “Hands develop fixation at the age of around 40 because of certain practices,” says Vijoy Prakash, principal secretary in the social welfare department of the state who conceptualized the project. “And that leads to the failure of most of the rehabilitation efforts when the work does not suit their behaviour pattern.”
The prototype of the project began almost a year back with 100 beggars brought in from the streets of Patna, the state’s capital. Some 60 of them, all children, were then attached to a school for education.
The older of these are being trained for employment, and once trained, these beggars are expected to earn Rs100-200 a day depending on the nature of their employment.
It takes almost six months of training, which includes behavioural changes and job skills. The state government has sanctioned Rs2 crore for the project. “Now, we are targeting to rehabilitate 1,000 beggars in two years under project Pahechan,” said Prakash who was invited by the Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad earlier this month to speak about creative learning methods.
Prakash estimates there are around 5,000 beggars in Patna alone and the government is eventually hoping to rehabilitate all of them. The state government is also identifying other towns where it can start the same project. “When talent gets recognized, they are motivated to perform better, their vices get diminished,” says Prakash.