Without pension, an old folk musician forced to beg for food

The folk music represents the soul of the indigenous culture of India. The songs are the oral history encompassing the myths, lives of peasants, the joys and struggles of men and women which are passed down from generation to generation. Folk music, like all folk arts, are the shreds of evidence of people's history that the folk artists keep alive.

To honour the retired folk artists, the Ministry of Culture had designed a social security scheme called the Artists Pension Scheme and Welfare Fund. Under this scheme, retired artists over 60 are eligible for a monthly allowance between Rs.500 to Rs. 3500 per month, per beneficiary. 

But, a 61-year-old folk artist, Hiramun Halgunde is deprived of this benefit. Once a proud artist, today Hiramun begs on the roads of Nashik with tattered, filthy clothes and bare feet. Poverty also meant that Hiramun could never own a house. Till date, the elderly couple has taken refuge in an abandoned Anganwadi (Childcare Centre) of Kone village in Nashik district of Maharashtra. 

"I have played the dholak since I was 18. Imagine how long I must have played. But no one came forward to help me," Hiramun tells Maya, Video Volunteers Community Correspondent. When Hiramun hobbles on a walking stick, begging from door to door for food and money; you realise that the pride of an artist is long-gone and is replaced by the desperation of a beggar. 

His wife tells Maya their struggles to unsuccessfully get any government benefits for survival, "Till date we had our papers made several times for the Artist Pension, but to no avail. We even had applied for an old-age pension. If we got some pension, life would be easy for us." 

In our country, we give god-like status to cricketers and actors and build temples in their honour. But grassroots artists like Hiramun fade away into poverty.  Call the CEO of Nashik on +91-2532508389 and ask him to help Hiramun. Let us all get-together and help Hiramun and his wife get their deserved pension to lead a dignified life.

Community correspondent Maya Khodve reports from Maharashtra for Video Volunteers.

This video was made by a Video Volunteers Community Correspondent. Community Correspondents come from marginalised communities in India and produce videos on unreported stories. These stories are ’news by those who live it.’ they give the hyperlocal context to global human rights and development challenges. See more such videos at www.videovolunteers.org. Take action for a more just global media by sharing their videos and joining in their call for change. we could hyperlink to some VV pages, like our take action page.


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