If you have traveled in local buses and trains, then you must be aware of beggars singing "Pardesi, Pardesi” from Aamir Khan’s film Raja Hindustani, typically in a familiar nasal voice. Equipped with dholaks and harmoniums, these beggars seem to be ubiquitous and always singing a song that has the word pardesi in it (c.f. "Tum To Thehre Pardesi").
The next time you run into one however, she might be singing about Swacch Bharat or Beti Bachao Beti Padhao instead. The government has come up with a unique initiative to train some 3,000 beggars to sing about its signature plans in local trains and buses. This latest idea comes as the brainchild of ministry of information and broadcasting, aiming to make the common man more aware of the government's various schemes.
The project, anchored by ministry’s Song and Drama Division and All India Radio will roll out in Mumbai from next month, with trained beggars singing tunes of various government schemes. In return, the government will pay some remuneration and incentives to the beggars, who are on fields for this job. The officials have also cleared that children aren’t going to be the part of this scheme.
"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," the Economic Times quoted an unnamed official as saying.