Members of the transgender community in Odisha will soon be given below poverty line cards that will allow them to access benefits under various government welfare programmes, Reuters reported. The beneficiaries will enjoy free housing, 100 days of paid work annually, pensions and loans to start their own businesses. They will also be entitled to 5 kg of food grains every month under India's National Food Security Act.
Niten Chandra, principal secretary of Odisha's department of social security, said the move to give members of the community the same benefits as others living below the poverty line was aimed at improving their overall social and economic status. Odisha is the first state in the country to offer transgenders these benefits.
"Most transgenders are in a very bad condition because of social exclusion. For example, they very often do not get employment easily," Chandra told Reuters. Transgender rights groups have welcomed the new policy and called for its effective implementation.
In a landmark judgement in April 2014, the Supreme Court recognised transgender as a legal third gender and called on the government to ensure their equal treatment. The apex court recognised the community as a marginalised group and directed authorities to implement policies to improve their socio-economic status.