04/08/2015 1:02 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Modi Government Plans To Pay Beggars To Sing Its Paeans

SANJAY KANOJIA via Getty Images
An Indian beggar asks for donations from devotees at the Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, in Allahabad on July 25, 2015. AFP PHOTO/SANJAY KANOJIA (Photo credit should read Sanjay Kanojia/AFP/Getty Images)

Singing alms seekers are an ubiquitous feature of surface transportation in India. You will encounter them in buses and train rides. Now the government wants to turn them into a division of its extensive publicity division.

If the plan works, soon instead of evergreen Kishore Kumar numbers, you will see alms-seekers in trains crooning jingles for key government schemes such as the Swachh Bharat and Beti Bachao campaigns. And instead of begging, they will bill the government a modest fee. An informal railways employment guarantee scheme of sorts, if you will.

A government project anchored by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting's Song and Drama Division along with the All India Radio will draw up a plan to train 3,000 beggars to sing about the various government plans in major cities to reach a wider audience, The Economic Times reported.

The project will roll out from next month in Mumbai and will then be taken to other cities, the report said.

"Our field publicity reports show that the number of such beggars in the Mumbai's suburban trains is high and that there are entire families singing and begging for money. Many of them are experienced singers. We are looking at this as a livelihood opportunity. This is a better way to use their abilities," ET quoted an unnamed official as saying.

In return, the beggars will be paid a remuneration and will not need to beg for alms. Children will not be employed in this scheme, officials said. This is part of the government's efforts to revamp its field publicity.

Read the entire report in ET.

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