Delhi is one of the largest capitals of the world, home to 16 million people, the amount of garbage generated by this number is staggering. As with other exploding cities, our civic structure is not adequately geared to handle this tide.
Thousands of invisible hands, émigrés from Bengal and Bihar get dirty every day to clean our City. They live on as an invisible community on the outskirts of Delhi.
Despite living in the capital and with so many governmental educational schemes, their children don’t have the benefit of attending school.
These children are often busy looking after younger siblings or helping their parents with their work. As they roam aimlessly around the slum, one wonders if they have any future in this transforming capital of the biggest democracy of the world.
The 3rd Anwar Jamal Kidwai Memorial Lecture was held in the Ansari Auditorium of Jamia Millia Islamia yesterday. Eminent film maker Shyam Benegal who was the chief guest on the occasion delivered the lecture on “Making the Films I have made”. Prof. Mushirul Hasan, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, delivered the key note address.
The lecture is organised every year by the Mass Communication Research Centre as a mark of tribute to its founder, the late Anwar Jamal Kidwai. The occasion too was appropriate as Jamia Millia Islamia is celebrating its 88th anniversary with the Annual Talimi Mela.
An excellent opportunity
For the students of the Mass Communication Research Centre, it was a rare opportunity to hear the seasoned filmmaker speak about his ordeals and experiences in the film-making industry. Many students of the Centre are about to join the industry by the end of this academic year and Shyam Benegal is an inspiration for most of them.
The veteran film maker who has also made more than 50 documentaries including one on Satyajit Ray and the much applauded television serial, Bharat Ek Khoj, talked on how he began his journey in the film-making business.
The recipient of 17 National film awards and the coveted Dada Saheb Phalke Award related about his visit to Kolkata in the 50s when he was a student. “When I saw Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali, there was an explosion in my brain”, remembered the veteran film maker. “I saw it 12 times then and eventually ended up seeing it 26 times”.
The film made him realize that there was no need for him to follow any kind of convention that was being followed by the film makers in the country. “It had the smell of the earth and showed relationships that all of us have,” said Mr. Benegal. This probably is one reason that Benegal’s films are replete with strong social messages.
He said that the juxtaposition of the feudal and colonial set up that he grew up with also got reflected in his films. Ankur, Mr. Benegal’s first feature film, was based on a short story that he had written when he was in college. “It was a part of the change when I was growing up”, he added.
Revisiting the Indian village
Talking about his latest box office hit Welcome to Sajjanpur, the director enumerated his wish to revisit the Indian village, that had been largely neglected by Hindi films for 10 to 12 years. “But, it had to be in a form that urban people would watch it”, he enumerated. “Therefore, I chose comedy as the medium to tell the story. It could then deal with the issues of low literacy and honour killing, in an engaging fashion.
Delhi’s beggar population has also been identified as a blotch to the city and the government is bent on cleaning them up off the city without a second thought. But what hits where it hurts the most is that even the Law does not seem to be protective of the beggars either.
According to Bombay Prevention of Beggars Act (BPBA), 1959, beggars are those persons who hawk magazines, toys and other miscellaneous items at traffic intersections; sell good luck charms, snake charmer, and who sing in roadside, the sadhus and so on. The BPBA defines beggars as those who don’t have any visible means of subsistence, receive alms and wander in public place.
“This Act allows police to arrest anyone who looks poor and to unfairly target those who are homeless and live in public places,” says Archana Dassi, a lecturer at the department of Social Work in Jamia Millia Islamia. “But anyone who does have a means to subsistence is not supposed to be arrested in the name of beggar prevention. This reflects one of the major lacunas of the BPBA Act.”
Sewa Kutir, an approved government organisation at Kingsway Camp in North Delhi, has been looking after the remand and rehabilitation of beggars since 1960. But, many complaints have been raised against the activities of Sewa Kutir related to arrest, order of trial and rehabilitation of beggars.
“I am too illiterate to know about any law which can arrest us. Earlier I was working as a waiter in a small roadside restaurant and just the day before I was thrown out from the restaurant, police arrested me as a homeless person,” says a forty-year-old Moti, who migrated from Bihar. “I did not get any training during my so-called probation period either,” he adds.
Vinod kumar, a rickshaw puller at trans Yamuna area in Delhi who migrated from Mathura, says, “In Jamatalashi (a personal search of the arrested beggar where articles are taken and receipt is given to the person which can be used to claim the return of those articles), my money amounted to Rs 136 was taken by the court (Sewa Kutir) without giving me any receipt and I was released after fifteen days of remand with a deducted amount of Rs 36.”
While the government is adamant to clean up the system, activist group such as Action Aid has decided not to take government with a loose knot. The organisation says the way the government seizes a beggar is inhuman as every one has a right to live.
The NGO Action Aid India has launched a shelter rights campaign programme called Aashray Adhikari Abhiyan(AAA) that is working with homeless people in Delhi since the year 2000.
“There is a need to generate awareness related to legal rights so that beggars can ensure and avail their rights after being arrested,” says Sushil Kumar Singh, an advocate of legal right programme of AAA.
The Article 39 of Indian constitution directs that the state secure the right to adequate means of livelihood of its citizens. In contradiction, Sewa Kutir arrests beggars under the BPBA Act labelling them as persons who need rehabilitation.
“Most of the accused under this Act don’t know the reason of their arrest and are not informed about the offence for which he or she is arrested,” says Paramjeet Kaur, the head of programme team of AAA. “This violates the article 22 of the Indian constitution”. According to Article 22, “No person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without being not informed nor shall be denied the right to consultant to be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice”.
According to a study conducted by Centre for Media Studies (CMS) in Delhi, about 90% of the population of beggars in Delhi are migrants from neighbouring states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
“Most of the beggars arrested have their family in UP and Bihar. They support their family by the meagre amount they churn out of begging. They are poverty stricken people being pushed to Delhi for want of sustenance from their native place. More than three fourth of Delhi's beggars are driven by poverty,” says Alima Ahmed, a student at Department of Social work, JMI, who is working on beggars rehabilitation.
However, to improve the living condition of beggars, Delhi government runs beggar homes. According to government officials , there are 12 beggar homes at the outskirts of the city. But the condition of the beggar homes is no better than a prison cell says a beggar who had a stint in the beggar home. She later attended rehabilitation at AAA.
“Nearly 73% of the grants are spent on administration and maintenance whereas training and reform part of beggar homes gets only 23% of the allocated budget for beggary,” says Paramjeet Kaur. “So, the vocational training to be provided to the convicted beggar to earn his living after his release has not been implemented till now”, she adds.
However, BPBA Act treats begging as a crime and does not focus on rehabilitation of those beggars. “There are enough instances of begging rackets that force women and abduct children to get into this profession,” says Archana Dassi. She further adds “Beggars are often forced into beggary by unemployment, homelessness, and easy earnings. The policy of dumping of beggars is not going to solve the problem. Treating beggars as criminals is not going to help either.”
नाटक के लिए लोगों को बुलाते छात्र
नाटक में एड्स की जानकारी देता छात्र
जागरूकता का अलग अंदाज
A radio story by Marie Naudascher
Preserving their rich cultural heritage has often become the biggest challenge in front of Tibetans living in India. The Tibetan institute of performing arts in Dharamsala, the one set up by Dalai Lama has strived to preserve the rich Tibetan culture and theatrical tradition. Here is a report from Kapou Malakar and Gaurav Kumar .