Column: Begging talent

By: | Published: August 5, 2015 12:28 AM

The plan to have beggars singing about govt schemes on trains may be a better idea than it sounds

You may not have a penchant for the nasal, whiny singing of tramps on trains, but the government believes that they could effectively popularise various schemes of the government. The Union information and broadcasting ministry, as per a report in the

Economic Times, is drafting beggars to train with All India Radio and sing on trains about various government initiatives like Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao; Swacch Bharat, etc. The idea is to increase public awareness of these programmes while offering the vagrants a way out of begging.

Many would argue that this is tantamount to exploiting the vulnerabilities of the severely impoverished—indeed, critics would point out the irony of beggars singing paeans of government programmes when they are least likely to benefit from any of them—but the project will give many, if not all, a chance to leave behind begging for a livelihood, as the government is working on a “remuneration model”. Commuters in Mumbai’s local trains, where the project will be piloted, better get prepared to hear less of Tukaram’s verses or time-worn Bollywood numbers, and instead have the latest toilet coverage figures droned into their minds. Unless, of course, one comes across a Durga—the teenager singing on trains at Mumbai’s Sion station, who sang the wildly popular number Dil Chee Cha Ledar from the movie Gangs of Wasseypur—that would make for enjoyable government advertising.

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