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From margins to mainstream: Vocational skills training to brighten the future of beggars in Jaipur

Rajasthan government's current initiative aims to elevate the beggars from poverty, assuring them a decent source of income.

The Rajasthan government has been dynamically involved in a lot of welfare works in the recent past. In the latest set of the developments, the Rajasthan Skill and Livelihoods Development Corporation has initiated a new project in association with the Sopan Society to equip beggars in Jaipur with vocational skills. A heritage complex in the city has welcomed 33 beggars into its premises to impart them with life skills, as per the state government's new initiative.

An initiative to elevate people from the deprived sections

The Secretary of Rajasthan Government for Labour, Employment, Skill, Entrepreneurship and ESI was quoted saying, "Initially, we've organised a 15-day counselling session for these destitutes. After counselling, we shall start a 3-month training programme for them to ensure that the hands which were once used to beg will now be working to earn a dignified livelihood." He further informed that they have collaborated with an NGO called Akshaya Patra for providing jobs to the trained individuals. The project has been slow-paced because of the COVID pandemic. Currently, individuals under the first and the second batch are being trained while the third batch will be started three months later.

Before commencing the project, an exploratory survey was conducted by the Rajasthan government with the help of the commissionerate, which prepared a database about the educational qualifications and the interests of these beggars. The deputy general manager of RSLDC asserted that the beggars, mostly aged around 30, would be coached to become electricians, guards, beauticians and cooks. Through this, the government's attempts to set an example about including people from the margins of the society into the mainstream community.

Aspirations of finding a decent job and moving back to the home state

The Jaipur building is echoing with the emotionally moving stories of the beggars. One of them, who is a resident of Andhra Pradesh, worked in a mechanical firm 12 years ago. Stressed by family tensions, he faced the tumult of life and started working as a labourer and thereafter resorted to begging on streets. Now, he feels overjoyed while learning about computers and is hopeful of securing a decent source of income. Another beneficiary of the project is a person from Maharashtra, who has been working as a labourer in Jaipur for the past 16 years. He is sure that learning new ways to earn an income shall bring new opportunities for him. Most of the migrants aspire to move their home states after they stand on their feet.

Priority recruitment drive by Akshaya Patra Foundation

The Akshaya Patra Foundation, that has been roped for employing the trained individuals, works on measures to eradicate hunger during school-time by facilitating the mid-day meal scheme in schools, fully or completely supported by the government. A representative from the Akshaya Patra affirmed that the organisation is in need of 50 people for preparing mid-day meals once the schools restart. They would conduct priority recruitment drives for the students of these batches. The authorities at the foundation have already laid out a three-dimensional process for selecting its staff. It includes checking tendencies for spiritual development, adherence to personal hygiene and good kitchen practices and the desire for a suitable job. After the beneficiaries of the training program qualify through the process, they will be employed as helpers, drivers, cooks and gaushala workers.

A comprehensive curriculum for the training program

The beggars are going through a reformation in their life by a comprehensive development program. From good food and playful activities to concrete counselling sessions, the training encompasses a variety of facets. The beggars practice Yoga during the morning and engage in games like badminton and ludo after the classes. Dressed in bright uniforms, the beggars feel elated about the training program and expect a job at the end of it.

The current intervention can prove to be guiding light for future projects aimed at poverty eradication. It is only when everyone in the society is inculcated with life-sustaining skills that the foundation for a progressive nation would be laid.

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