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Life of the homeless in India
  06 Jul'2020

When the sunsets and the night draw near, a single light from the lamppost 20 meters away becomes the only source of light for so many street dwellers. A half-torn blanket, a shredded asbestos ceiling, and an earthen stove are all the properties of those people. They are deprived of the basic amenities in life. Their kids do not get proper educational opportunities, they do not have proper beds, drinking water, and even toilet. If they are lucky, they survive within a single room on some forgotten streets in our wealthy and posh cities. Still, they call these little pieces of a land home which signifies how big is the problem of homelessness.


The cities of India are some of the most densely populated regions in the whole world. These places offer jobs to people who leave their homes in search of employment and livelihood. Most of these migrant laborers are poverty-stricken and lack the basic necessities of life. At any given point in time, the number of homeless people in these cities is about 3 million. They do not have substantial food to feed their children, no proper shelter to protect them from the harsh weather, and the evil of the society. The problems they face on a daily basis can only be a nightmare for the upper class of society.


In the year of 2012, the honorable Supreme Court passed an order that, across all Indian cities, there should be at least one shelter for the homeless people built for every 100,000 people of that concerned city. We are all aware of the harsh extreme weather New Delhi witnesses every year. Scorching heat in summer and bone-chilling cold in the winter. During the winter of 2014, more than 100 people lost their lives to the harsh weather. During the peak of summer and winter season, the unavailability of shelters hurts the homeless people most and results in a large number of unnatural deaths. Due to the lack of proper shelter, the poor people make the pavements, roadside, the unused drainpipes, the space under the staircases, and the compounds of temples and railway stations their dwelling places. They make temporary shelters which give the, at least some sense of
security.


In 2013, the Centre started Scheme of Shelters for Urban Homeless and in the next year, these people were given valuable training by which they could earn their living. Around 800 Indian cities are currently covered by this scheme. As per the guidelines set by the Court, the people living there should be given the basic amenities, like water suitable for drinking, medicine, toilets, bed and blankets, a kitchen for cooking, and also a locker for the safekeeping of their valuables. Each person should have a minimum space of 50 square foot which is the space needed to lay down a mattress to sleep on and to keep a suitcase beside him. All these were necessary steps taken by the Honourable Supreme Court, but the implementation of these rules was an entirely different matter.


When Kailash Gambhir, a retired judge was appointed by the Supreme Court reviewed the implementation of the goals, the reports were drastic, to say the least. He said that more than 90% of the homeless people did not have any kind of shelter over their heads. He concluded that “despite the availability of funds and a clear mechanism through which to disburse them, there is an extremely unsatisfactory state of affairs on the ground.” In 2017, a committee found out that the money allocated for these projects, i.e., to make fully functioning shelters for the homeless, has not been used properly and more than half of the ₹21.85 million remains unutilized by the states. These conditions only add to the plight of the homeless.


In a vastly wide and diverse country like India, the miscalculation of the number of homeless people though is not a surprise but a shame all the same. Field activists estimate that every city in India has urban homelessness which is about 1% of its entire population. So, that brings the number of homeless people to about 3.7 million as the urban population of India is more than 377 million. This among several others are among the major causes of homelessness in India. due to this high number of people without shelter. There is also a high number of street children who do not get proper education and suffer from malnutrition. The mothers spend sleepless nights worrying about the safety and security of their girls. They even cover their kids with oil and soot to keep them away from the evil eyes of the miscreants roaming around in the night.


Homelessness in India is not just a political issue that comes around every 5 years but a constant threat and shame on India’s sovereignty and democracy. The way these homeless people are treated is just inhumane. For these people, violation of human rights is something they go through almost every day. For the girls, verbal violence occurs constantly, and worse things happen in the open. Often, we see in the news headlines, little girls are kidnapped from the street side, raped, and murdered. These events happen regularly and will continue to happen as long as these poverty-stricken people are not provided with proper shelter and protection.


Narayan Seva Sansthan plays their part to provide these people with some comfort. They provide food packets, ration, and groceries. They also provide medical care for the people who need it. NSS has mobile vans and willing volunteers who are always them to extend their helping hands to the people who are in most need of help. These acts of humanity make Narayan Seva Sansthan the Best NGO in India.

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