The Universal Declaration of Human Rights defines a ‘homeless’ as a person who doesn’t live in a permanent house due to a lack of required housing, safety, and availability. India has a shortage of over 20 million houses. Families relocating to urban regions from rural areas owing to property loss, job search, and better opportunities are sometimes left homeless due to exorbitant rents (a basic apartment costs approximately Rs. 3000) and a lack of housing to accommodate them. Domestic violence, drug addiction, mental and physical impairment, abandonment of unmarried pregnant women, divorced mothers, female children, and the elderly are among factors that contribute to homelessness.
Homelessness is of three types, such as:
- Chronic homelessness(these are people who have been homeless for a long period)
- Transitional homelessness(Most of the transitional homeless have become homeless due to any catastrophic event)
- Episodic homelessness(They are part of the population that frequently shuttle in and out of homelessness and suffer from mental, health, and medical problems or chronic unemployment.)
No matter how good the services for the homeless are, the greatest way to end homelessness is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. As a result, effective preventative methods are required. We must also acknowledge that total prevention is impossible and therefore aim for partial prevention of the problem.
The epidemic has had a significant impact on the homeless population. Many low-income families were forcibly evicted from their homes, thus making them homeless. The inability to socially distance, lack of appropriate sanitation and other amenities, as well as the lack of a consistent source of income, proved to be a significant barrier for the homeless to endure the lockdown.
Now I’ll talk about various government and non-government services for the homeless. In the 8thFive year plan (1992-1997), India, for the first time, developed programs for the poor and homeless. The government implemented the Footpath Dwellers Night Shelter Scheme in this plan. In the 11th Five year plan (2007–12), the government recognized the right to access a roof over one’s head as a fundamental right. Also, the Supreme Court directed a new mission to improve the infrastructure of the slums known as the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) play a significant role in helping the homeless. Because of the inefficiencies of government institutions, the number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has grown. Drop-in centres are a service organisation that assists the homeless and have been shown to be successful in assisting street children. NGOs collaborate closely with these urban centres.
Economic segregation and inadequate access to high-quality education is the main reason for beggary and homelessness.
Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees the right to life, which is not only the act of living and breathing but also includes the right to live with livelihood and dignity along with other aspects that make life worth living.
India is also a part of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which provides for the right to live life with dignity. The absence of a comprehensive law is a violation of this provision.
Laws like the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959 only deals with the issues at the state level. Furthermore, these policies follow a “one size fits all” for problems like homelessness and begging. From cases like Ram Lakhan v State, we can see that the law is biased against the destitute and homeless.
Homelessness is a complicated and pervasive issue. Overcoming the problem of homelessness entails a number of preventative and intervention actions. People who are in danger of abuse, are disregarded, and are at risk of homelessness are targeted in the preventative phase. The intervention measures focus on the already homeless population. System based responses such as providing MGNREGA, Aadhar cards, and ration cards can help the implementation of preventive and intervention methods. Better health and educational facilities can assist disadvantaged individuals in finding acceptable jobs. Ensuring socio-economic equality will raise public awareness of the issues confronting the homeless.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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