- The Government of India has formulated a comprehensive scheme named “Smile – Support for marginalized persons for livelihood and enterprise” to overcome the problem of desperation and begging.
- Under the Smile-75 initiative, 75 municipal corporations have been identified to implement holistic rehabilitation of people engaged in begging.
- Government welfare programs in collaboration with Municipal Corporations, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other stakeholders have covered a wide range of welfare measures for persons engaged in begging, including their rehabilitation, provision of medical facilities, counselling, awareness, there will be a broad focus on education, skill development, economic empowerment and convergence.
- The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has also allocated a total budget of Rs 100 crore for the Smile project for the period 2025-26.
- Under this, a target has been set to develop a support system for the holistic rehabilitation of the people engaged in begging.
- Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
This includes a sub-scheme of the following:
- Comprehensive rehabilitation of persons engaged in the act of begging.
- To free the towns/towns and municipal areas from begging.
- To formulate a strategy for comprehensive rehabilitation of persons engaged in the act of begging through coordinated action of various stakeholders.
Status of population engaged in begging in India:
- According to the 2011 census, the total number of beggars in India is 4, 13,670 (2, 21,673 males and 1, 91,997 females) and their numbers have increased as compared to the previous census.
- West Bengal tops it, followed by Uttar Pradesh and Bihar at number two and third place respectively. According to the 2011 census, there are only two beggars in Lakshadweep.
- The Union Territory of New Delhi had the highest number of beggars at 2,187, followed by Chandigarh with 121.
- Among the north-eastern states, Assam tops with 22,116 beggars, while Mizoram ranks lower with 53 beggars.