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Centre gearing up to create national database on beggars | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: The Centre is gearing up to set off a large-scale exercise to estimate the number of beggars through state-level surveys steered by municipalities to create a national database on a dedicated portal. The launch of the national scheme for rehabilitation of beggars and transgenders on Saturday also saw the ministry of social justice and empowerment emphasise (MoSJ&E) on “decriminalisation of beggary”. The launch of this scheme is a step in that direction.
This also brings into focus the need for a central legislation to overide existing state laws to enable a humane approach to the problem. Begging is a state subject, and there isn’t a central law governing this. Around 20 states have laws that essentially criminalise begging. Most of the state laws are modelled on the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959. The ministry will also argue for making necessary changes in the state acts that criminalise beggary.
With the central scheme ‘SMILE (Support for Marginalised Individuals for Livelihood and Enterprise) taking off and the standardised survey format ready to enable municipalities to identify those involved in begging, it is learnt from sources that the MoSJ&E is planning to push for a central legislation for a rehabilitation framework to enable mainstreaming of those involved in begging, destitutes and the homeless. A draft bill on the same was sent to the cabinet by the ministry earlier. It was returned after certain concerns were raised, the most pressing being regarding how the on ground execution would happen and the resources that will be required to enable the same.

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