Towards a gender-inclusive future: Welfare scheme for transgender community launched in India
For years the transgender community in India has been prey to systemic oppression at the behest of the largely cisgender society. It was only in 2014, when the Supreme Court delivered the NALSA judgement, that the transgender community finally felt like individuals with distinct identities. Keeping up with the progressive moves, recently, the Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Virendra Kumar launched SMILE, a scheme for the transgender community and beggers.
SMILE for welfare and rehabilitation of transgenders
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Under the centre's umbrella scheme, SMILE (Support for Marginalised Individuals for Livelihood and Enterprise), there are two sub-schemes, 'Comprehensive Rehabilitation for Welfare of Transgender Persons' for transgenders and 'Comprehensive Rehabilitation of Engaged in the Act of Begging' for beggers.
Renowned gender activist and the first transgender who represented Asia Pacific at the UN, Laxmi Narayan Tripathi once said, "We are as normal as anyone else." People have various assumptions about the third gender in our society. And this is the very same society that claims to be modern in all aspects, lacks far behind when it comes to acceptance.
Keeping the current social status of the community in mind, the sub-scheme for transgenders encompasses various components such as scholarships for transgender students from class 9th till post-graduation, along with skill development and livelihood under the PM-DAKSH scheme. There is also a provision for a comprehensive package supporting gender-reaffirmation surgeries through selected hospitals. A provision of a transgender protection cell in each state has also been made to ensure timely registration, fast-track and unbiased investigation, and prosecution of offences.
The journey ahead for the trans community and the destitute
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Under the second sub-scheme for the underprivileged, the focus will be more on survey and identification of such people, their mobilisation, rescue/shelter home and comprehensive resettlement. Notably, the housing facility in the form of 'Garima Grih' will ensure food, recreational facilities, clothing, skill development opportunities, recreational activities, and medical support to both communities.
As per the release, pilot projects have also been initiated on comprehensive rehabilitation in 10 cities namely Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Indore, Mumbai, Lucknow, Nagpur, Ahmedabad and Patna.
With an aim to provide necessary information and solutions to the problems of the transgender community and the people engaged in the act of begging. The Ministry has also allocated ₹365 crores for the scheme from 2021-22 to 2025-26. The sum will be used to make sure the social security that is needed through multiple dimensions of identity, medical care, education, occupational opportunities and shelter.