SMILE-75 Initiative: The Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment, Dr. Virendra Kumar recently launched the “SMILE-75 Initiative”.
Note: SMILE stands for 'Support for Marginalized Individuals for Livelihood and Enterprise'
- The “SMILE-75 Initiative has been launched in the spirit of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.
- Under SMILE-75 initiative, 75 Municipal Corporations have been identified to implement comprehensive rehabilitation of persons engaged in the act of begging.
- The 75 identified Municipal Corporations in collaboration experts with NGOs and other stakeholders will take part in nationwide launch in online and offline mode.
- The will cover several comprehensive welfare measures for persons who are engaged in the act of begging.
- They will focus extensively on rehabilitation, provision of healthcare, awareness, counselling, education, skill development, economic relations, and convergence with other government welfare programmes, among other things.
- The Ministry has allocated a total budget of Rs.100 crore for the SMILE project for coming years till 2025-26.
- Through this project, the Ministry aims to develop a support mechanism for holistic rehabilitation of those engaged in the act of begging and build an India where no person is forced to beg in order to survive and fulfil their basic needs.
- The Government of India (GoI), recognising the persisting problem of destitution and beggary formulated a comprehensive scheme of SMILE.
- SMILE scheme was launched on 12.02.2022 by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
- This scheme includes two sub-schemes -
- Central Sector Scheme for Comprehensive Rehabilitation for Welfare of Transgender Persons’ and
- Central Sector Scheme for Comprehensive Rehabilitation of persons engaged in the act of Begging.
- Under the two sub-schemes, a comprehensive rehabilitation for persons engaged in begging is done.
- With the support of Governments, UTs, Local Urban Bodies, Voluntary Organizations, Community Based Organizations (CBOs), Institutions, and others, this umbrella scheme covers a number of comprehensive measures, including welfare measures for both transgender people and people who are involved in the act of begging.
- This scheme covers identification, rehabilitation, counselling, provision of medical facilities, and education, skill development for a decent job and self-employment or entrepreneurship.
Pilot projects have been initiated on comprehensive rehabilitation in ten cities namely Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Indore, Lucknow, Mumbai, Nagpur, Patna and Ahmedabad.
Status of Beggars in India:
- According to the Census 2011 total number of beggars in India is over 4 lakhs.
- West Bengal tops the chart followed by Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
- As for the union territories, New Delhi had the largest number of beggars 2,187 followed by 121 in Chandigarh.
- Among the north-eastern states, Assam topped the chart with 22,116 beggars, while Mizoram ranked low with 53 beggars.
Central Law for Begging:
- There is no central law on begging in India.
- However, begging is a criminal act in cities like Delhi and Mumbai, in accordance with Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, BPBA (1959) which penalises beggary.
- Under the act, officials from Social Welfare Department conduct raids, in association with Police and pick up beggars.
- Later, they are tries in special courts called ‘beggar courts.