- Carnival of Atrocities
- Has the IAS Failed the Nation?
- A Plastic Calamity
- Reforming the Office of the Governor
- Sold Out – Is India’s mainstream media in crisis?
- Unending Woes of Pulse Farmers
- Penalising Poverty
Carnival of Atrocities
What is the issue?
- On 10 June, a video of two teenage Dalit boys being beaten and paraded naked in a village in Maharashtra’s politically high-profile Jalgaon district went viral on social media.
- The boys were humiliated and assaulted just because they were found swimming in a well owned by a person belonging to one of the denotified tribes in Maharashtra.
- This incident, except for the social background of the perpetrators of the crime, is similar to the flogging of Dalit men by upper-caste youth in Una, Gujarat in 2016.
What is Una Incident?
- On 11 July 2016, the four Dalit men were skinning the carcasses of dead cow in a village near Una in Gir Somnath district (Gujarat).
- They were approached by persons in two cars who claimed to be member of cow protection group and accused them of killing cows.
- Dalits tried to convince them that they were skinning dead cows. They were not convinced and tied Dalits to the car and beat with sticks and iron pipes. They were brought to Una town and assaulted again in public and were later handed to the police station.
In both cases, the Dalit corporeal body was made the object of a humiliating spectacle by filming the assault and then uploading it on social media, thereby reiterating that the perpetrators were unafraid of the legal consequences of their barbaric acts.
Why these incidents happen?
- The lack of social vigilance on one side and the social terror of the upper castes on the other, appear to have forced the parents to accept the public thrashing of these two boys as just an act of violence and not a caste atrocity.
- State fails to contain the upper castes, who are becoming almost a parallel state exercising their own law that exists outside the constitutional sphere of the rule of law.
- Whenever there is the spectacle of a tragedy, such as in Una or in Jalgaon, the respective state governments tend to use what could be called “ritualised etiquette.”
- This involves repeating the propaganda which suggests that the government in power has been making sincere efforts to deliver social justice to marginalised sections, including Dalits.
- Constitutional rights do not become articulable on their own. They do not bring automatic legal relief to the embattled person. Such rights become effective only on the condition that a moral lead is taken to exercise these rights.
- The silent hostility that exists in this particular village, and perhaps in several villages elsewhere, makes it increasingly difficult for Dalits to exercise their constitutional rights that offer protection against the lawlessness of caste.
- In the wake of such lawlessness, the social worth of victims of rape or caste atrocities hinges not only on the institutionalisation of the rule of law, but, more importantly, it depends on both the state as the regulator of such law, as well as socially vigilant and morally motivated local communities. The latter can provide conditions that would allow Dalits, such as the parents of these boys, to access the judicial system for redressal of injustice.
Has the IAS Failed the Nation?
Introduction to the issue
- The Government of India (GoI) has decided to recruit 10 outstanding individuals from the open market with expertise in the areas of (i) revenue; (ii) financial services; (iii) economic affairs; (iv) agriculture, cooperation and farmers’ welfare; (v) road transport and highways; (vi) shipping; (vii) environment, forests and climate change; (viii) new and renewable energy; (ix) civil aviation; and (x) commerce.
- Their initial appointment would be for three years and extendable up to five years depending upon their performance.
- They would work at the level of the joint secretary, a post normally occupied by the Indian Administrative Service Indian Administrative Service (IAS) or central service officers.
- It is a crucial level of senior management in the GoI administration, as joint secretaries lead policymaking, design programmes, and monitor their implementation.
Pros and cons at a glance
- This initiative to prefer specialists over career bureaucrats has been hailed as a bold and radical step by some who argue that it would bring in fresh and vibrant ideas, expose the top civil service to competition, and promote better policy formulation based on expert domain knowledge.
- On the other hand, many have condemned the bypassing of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) as an attempt to facilitate the backdoor entry of people committed to the present government’s ideology, or recruit employees working for those industrialists who are close to the ruling party.
Has it done earlier too?
- In the past too, experts had been inducted at senior positions in government, generally without any advertisement.
- Many of them, such as Manmohan Singh, Bimal Jalan, Lovraj Kumar, Vijay Kelkar, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Rakesh Mohan, Jairam Ramesh, and Arvind Subramanian made a very good impact and contributed substantially in senior positions.
- The fact that some of them later joined the ruling party and served as ministers did not invite criticism of their past contribution when they served as joint secretary or secretary. Nor was the regime criticised for recruiting party-friendly professionals.
- As a general rule, scientific ministries such as those of space or atomic energy are less hierarchically organised and have resorted to lateral entry more liberally.
- Thus, the experiment of inducting outsiders in government is not new.
- The second Administrative Reforms Commission too had recommended lateral entry at senior positions.
How will it have an impact on the UPSC-recruited career bureaucrats?
- Only 10 positions have been advertised as against a total strength of about 400 joint secretaries in the central government. This should not cause any insecurity in the minds of UPSC-recruited career bureaucrats that it would minimise their scope for promotion.
Purpose of IAS
- A common civil service not only facilitates coordination, but also helps in national integration as almost half the IAS cadre in each state consists of outsiders.
- A rigorous process of recruitment for the higher civil services ensures that the best talent available in society joins the civil service in India.
- A capable public service is essential for creating a favourable investment climate and facilitating people’s participation in economic life.
Changing role of the IAS
- As countries become more globalised, governments face increasingly complex and cross-cutting issues, such as economic volatility, climate change and migration.
- The wide use of the internet has made citizens more aware and impatient, puting public servants under greater public scrutiny.
- Against this backdrop, public service delivery has acquired new dimensions as governments need to respond not only to changes in the global environment, but also to the demands of an active citizenry.
- Formulating integrated policies and their effective implementation would require an adaptable and efficient public service that can anticipate emerging challenges and ensure that potential strategies are informed by better understanding of future contexts.
- It must also learn to empower people and be able to work with them, as traditional vertical accountability systems can act as a major impediment to working across boundaries
Issues in the IAS
- Despite initial competence and enthusiasm, the hard reality is that many civil servants in the course of the 30 years of their career lose much of their dynamism and innovativeness, with no faith in their own contribution to public welfare.
- The IAS officer spends more than half of their tenure on policy desks where domain knowledge is a vital prerequisite. However, quick transfers from one post to the other in many states dampens the desire to learn. In Uttar Pradesh (UP) the average tenure of an IAS officer in the last 10 years is said to be as low as six months. In the Indian Police Service (IPS) it is even lower.
- With this environment prevailing in many states, there is no incentive for a young civil servant to acquire knowledge or improve their skills.
- There is, thus, an exponential growth in both their ignorance and their arrogance.
- An important factor that contributes to the surrender of senior officers before political masters is the total lack of any market value and lack of alternative employment potential. Beyond government, they have no future, because their talents are so few.
- This service is primarily responsible for India’s failure to achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in hunger, health, malnutrition, sanitation, and gender, as most IAS officers can neither design effective programmes nor can they implement them with accountability.
- Some decades ago, one used to compare India with China and Sri Lanka, but these countries have left India far behind as far as development goals are concerned. On social indicators, India unfortunately does worse than countries even poorer than India, like Bangladesh and Vietnam
- The present proposal would not have attracted adverse criticism had the UPSC been involved in the recruitment process. One can only hope that the selection committee set up by the GoI would be impartial, objective and transparent, and puts up the curriculum vitae of selected candidates online to establish their credibility.
- The decision to recruit experts from the open market in certain departments at the level of joint secretaries is not enough to radically professionalise the civil service.
- Internal specialisation must be promoted by insisting on stable tenure in the states so that there is incentive for the Indian Administrative Service officers to acquire expertise in their chosen sectors.
- Also, the IAS officers should take the entry of the outsiders as a challenge, because if they do not improve their performance, there could be repetition of such recruitment every year.
Summing up, one welcomes 10 experts from the open market, but professionalising the rest of the 390 joint secretaries requires greater attention. This needs wider administrative reforms by addressing issues of governance at the state and district levels.
A Plastic Calamity
Focus of the article
- Banning single-use plastics is inadequate without enforcing the law and creating consumer awareness.
Background of the topic
- Discovered in 1898, polyethylene, or what we call plastic, became available for mass production only in 1939.
- Since then, the material has invaded our lives—from single-use plastic bags and packaging to many other utilitarian uses.
- It is cheap, light and flexible. Replacing it is not an easy task. It is also a symbol of a kind of economic development model, which we in India have imported and embraced from the older industrialised countries, that is premised on the principle of discard and replace.
- Replacing this model now appears unthinkable. Yet, this is the source of our throwaway culture that has led to what the United Nations Environment Programme calls a “plastic calamity.”
Problems with plastic
- Today we have evidence that our oceans contain an estimated 150 million tonnes of plastic waste; sea life, birds and plants are literally choking because of it; vast tracts of land are overwhelmed with landfills that cannot biodegrade because of virtually indestructible plastic waste; and it is most worrying that micro-plastics from this waste are now making their way into water sources and the food chain.
- A recent study of tap water samples from several countries revealed that India was third after the United States and Lebanon in water contaminated by microplastics; 82.4% of the samples tested contained plastic.
- While the health impacts of ingesting plastic, either through water or food, are still being assessed, the very fact that plastic waste is affecting water supply is a cause for serious concern. Since the 1950s, 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced worldwide, but only around 20% of it has been recycled or incinerated. The rest is in the sea, on mountain slopes, in rivers and springs, in wells, in landfills, and in piles of garbage that are now the symbol of urban blight, especially in India.
- The challenge of dealing with this seems so enormous that it requires virtually the reverse engineering of our approach towards production and consumption.
India’s Experiments with plastic ban
- So far, 18 states have banned the use of single-use plastics in specific cities or demarcated areas. Nowhere has this been successful.
- The state that has achieved the most success in reducing the use of single-use plastics is Sikkim. Yet, despite a ban in 1998, till today it has not been successful in eliminating single-use plastic bags entirely.
- It has, however, managed to create awareness among its population of the environmental fallout of plastic waste and has tried to introduce cost-effective alternatives.
- On the other hand, in Delhi and Chandigarh, which along with Sikkim were part of a 2014 study by Toxics Link, “Toxics and the Environment,” a ban on plastic carry bags has failed to stop their use or to create consumer awareness.
- If this is the experience in small states of the size of Delhi and Chandigarh, what chance is there of such bans working in larger states like Maharashtra, which has recently notified a fairly drastic ban.
Why it is difficult to control plastic?
- The easy availability and cost-effectiveness of plastic carry bags for vendors, particularly those dealing with perishables like vegetables and meat
- The low level of consumer awareness of the environmental problems created by plastic waste
- The general poor implementation of all manner of environmental regulations in India – leading to “the classic tragedy of the commons” where “individual consumers benefit from the use of plastic bags because of their convenience, while the whole society bears the collective cost of their disposal.”
- While regulation, deterrence, and incentives can be one part of the solution, the larger challenge is stopping production of single-use plastics. In India, for instance, 85%–90% of plastic production is in the small and medium sector that remains largely unregulated. Yet, stopping single-use plastic carry bags is not enough.
- We should not forget that 48% of the plastic waste is the packaging of branded edible items and it is the bigger industries, including multinationals that are responsible for this.
- Clearly, we need to enforce extended producer responsibility so that those using non-recyclable plastic in their packaging take responsibility and pay for its disposal. Furthermore, the alternatives to plastic bags, such as those made of biodegradable material, or of paper, jute, and cloth, need to be cost-effective. Finally, the consumer has to make a choice between convenience and an environmental disaster.
Reforming the Office of the Governor
Why this topic now?
- The blatantly partisan actions of Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala in the aftermath of the Karnataka Assembly elections in 2018, which had thrown up a hung result, call for the need to scrutinise the post and functioning of governors within India’s constitutional scheme.
- Such malfeasance on the part of governors is not recent and their supposedly neutral role has always been more a pious hope than a reality. The need of the hour is serious constitutional reform, whether by the legislature or by the judiciary.
Role of Governor in Governance
- Under the constitutional scheme, the Governor’s mandate is substantial. From being tasked with overseeing government formation, to reporting on the breakdown of constitutional machinery in a State, to maintaining the chain of command between the Centre and the State, he can also reserve his assent to Bills passed by the State Legislature and promulgate ordinances if the need arises.
- Further, under Article 355, the Governor, being the Central authority in a State, acts as an overseer in this regard.
- Undoubtedly, the most crucial issue relates to the exercise of gubernatorial (relating to or connected with the post of governor) discretion. The Governor has the task of inviting the leader of the largest party/alliance, post-election, to form the government; overseeing the dismissal of the government in case of a breakdown of the Constitution in the State; and, through his report, recommending the imposition of President’s rule.
- In India, the balance in power is tilted towards the Union. The importance of the Governor’s position arises not from the exceptional circumstances that necessitate the use of his discretion, but as a crucial link within this federal structure in maintaining effective communication between the Centre and a State.
- As a figurehead who ensures the continuance of governance in the State, even in times of constitutional crises, his role is often that of a neutral arbiter in disputes settled informally within the various strata of government, and as the conscience keeper of the community.
Governor vs President
- The governor is supposed to be an analog of the President at the state level.
- The structural fault in the post of governor lies in the fact that, unlike the post of the President, it is not an elected one, but an appointed one.
- A President holds office until removed by impeachment, but a governor only holds office during the “pleasure of the President.”
- A President, therefore, is accountable to the legislature, while a governor is accountable to the union executive alone. One can see, therefore, how this might guide their actions, even though their function, in essence, is the same.
- If the healthy conventions that have developed around the post of President are codified for the governor, there is no reason why the post cannot also enjoy some of the respect that the post of the President enjoys.
- One potential route for reform could be in replicating the process for election of the President for the governor at the state level, that MLAs, members of the legislative council (MLCs) if any, elected members of panchayati raj institutions, and municipal governments vote for a governor who will serve on the same terms as the President, with similar powers and restrictions at the state level.
- Misuse of a position of power should not serve as a justification for removing the office altogether, unless such a position has totally lost its relevance.
- Rather, these debates on limitations on the power of constitutional functionaries should be allowed unimpeded to ensure the organic development of our polity.
Sold Out – Is India’s mainstream media in crisis?
- Operation 136 : Part II – The second part of the undercover expose was released by Cobrapost on 25 May 2018. It claimed to have shown owners as well as senior personnel of media houses consenting to engage in campaigns which could induce communal discord and sway the electoral mandate
- The lines between editorial and marketing departments are more blurred than media organisations would like to acknowledge. This has been well established by documentation of paid news cases. The Cobrapost sting reinforces the fact that media’s business model is advertisement-centric.
- While marketing and editorial departments of media organisations are supposed to function separately, the Cobrapost sting proves that that is not always the case.
- Newspapers are sold at a much lower price than the cost of newsprint and news gathering. News channels cannot manage to run operations only on subscription revenue, considering the very low subscription charges in India. Advertisement revenue is supposed to ensure that media organisations not just recover their costs of operations but also make profits.
Know more about Cobrapost
- Cobrapost, which was founded in 2003 by Aniruddha Bahal, the co-founder of Tehelka, is an Indian non-profit journalism company
- In 2005, along with Aaj Tak, Cobrapost conducted a sting operation named Operation Duryodhana that exposed eleven members (MPs) accepting money for tabling their questions in the Parliament of India. This investigation led to expulsion of eleven MPs from the Parliament, the largest expulsion of MPs in the country’s history.
- In March 2013, its Operation Red Spider alleged that some banks in India were involved in money laundering, using false accounts to convert black money into white.
- In Operation Blue Virus, Cobrapost accused some IT companies of using fake identities on social media to help politicians, especially BJP members, to improve their popularity.
- Operation 136 : Part 1 – Taking into account the magnitude of the breach and subsequent misuse of Facebook’s data, which sparked visible outrage and raised rife speculations about information warfare used to influence Elections.
Response by the Media
- Barring a couple of newspapers, mainstream media largely ignored the exposé.
- A handful of the media houses have since gone to court, got injunctions preventing further dissemination of the tapes, and sent legal notices to Cobrapost.
- Some also carried reports about the scurrilous past of the reporter involved, and questions were raised about the authenticity of the tapes.
Paid News: How Corruption in Indian Media Undermines Democracy
- The first to expose “paid news” by political parties was the Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists when it complained to the Press Council of India (PCI) about media houses taking money from politicians for favourable coverage during the 2004 general elections.
- In this case, media houses would approach political parties, promising positive coverage for a price. A similar trend was noticed in the 2009 general elections in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, and other states.
- These exposés led to the Election Commission of India asking the PCI to conduct an inquiry into paid news. Unfortunately, the 71-page report, titled “Paid News: How Corruption in Indian Media Undermines Democracy,” was not accepted by all the members of the PCI and was eventually buried.
Evaluation of the issue
- Whether it is ethical to conduct stings, whether the Cobrapost tapes are genuine, and whether they have been doctored while editing are issues that can certainly be debated.
- But, the main purpose of the sting was to expose the ease with which marketing representatives of media companies, and even those higher up, can engage in a conversation that amounts to accepting money to propagate a political agenda.
- Perhaps, the strongest indictment is the absence of outrage that reinforces the view that the media, barring exceptions, sells out to the highest bidder: a corporate, a political party, or a political front funded by a corporate.
- The real story of the buying and selling of the media began with the advent of liberalisation, when the wall dividing the business from the editorial side of media organisations began to be chipped away at until it disappeared.
- News was redefined as anything that sells the product. A natural corollary to this was the formalisation of the arrangement of selling news space for a fixed price.
- Then followed the concept of private treaties with business houses that paid for the advertising space and coverage by giving equity to the media house. Both profited from this arrangement, but the media’s credibility took a nosedive.
- Not just private businesses, but political parties too have benefited from the willingness of the media to mould the news for a price.
- The press in India is digging its own grave and putting India’s democracy in danger.
- Given this history of the private arrangements of media houses with the corporate sector, as well as their willingness to accept money from political parties for doctored coverage, the Cobrapost exposé provides nothing that is not already known.
- The media’s unwillingness to recognise this negates any possibility of it playing a relevant role in a democracy as an independent watchdog irrespective of who is in power.
Unending Woes of Pulse Farmers
What is the issue?
- The current crash in pulse prices is on account of excess supply in the pulses market. This is the second year in a row that pulse prices have fallen and have not been remunerative for farmers.
- The situation in 2014–15, however, was very different. A scarcity in production had caused a spike in prices then, thereby adversely affecting affordability and the average intake of pulses.
- There have been increases in acreage since that have led to excess supply and drastic price reductions in 2018. The government has failed to frame a policy that addresses the fluctuations in pulse output and prices adequately.
What the State has done?
- In 2014–15, pulses output fell by around 10% over the previous year. The shortages were caused by successive droughts as well as hoarding by traders. The risk of drought was high since an estimated 88% of the area under production was rain-fed.
- During this period, the government intervened with a lag to stabilise the prices by deciding to increase procurement, allowing free imports (for tur, moong and urad dal), imposing export restrictions, and enforcing stockholding limits under the Essential Commodities Act.
- The government also set a procurement target of 20 lakh tonnes as buffer stocks to stabilise market prices. To provide incentives to farmers producing pulses, it hiked the minimum support price (MSP) for pulses in successive years.
- Ways to absorb excess supply must be found. It requires that farmers are not made worse off relative to the consumer, and the gains made by the traders are not at the cost of farmers and consumers.
- In the event of bumper crop, the government should guarantee farmers the procurement of a definite quantity of produce at an appropriate price. It should also impose quantitative restrictions on imports and regulate exports.
Long –term measures
- Measures to improve market access for farmers through the formation of producer companies or cooperatives to strengthen the bargaining power of the farmer and to do away with middlemen who tacitly collude to manipulate prices
- Access to and availability of better seeds, irrigation, and storage facilities, such as warehouses and cold storages
- Long-term purchase agreements with agro-companies may also protect the farmer to a certain extent from gluts in the market.
- India is the largest producer and consumer of pulses in the world. These shortages as well as surpluses in pulse markets, and the rise and fall in prices reveal that pulses are prone to seasonal price cycles.
- Sustainable policies are needed to protect farmers and consumers against output and price fluctuations of pulses.
- The need of the hour is not only an expanded and active procurement policy by the states, but also an effective mechanism to distribute larger quantities of pulses through the state public distribution systems so that more is made available to the poor for consumption, especially in states where populations are ¬nutrient deficient.
- According to available sources, anti-beggary laws exist in more than 20 states and two union territories in the country.
- These legislations criminalise begging; people can be punished for begging, irrespective of their physical, economic, or psychological states of helplessness.
- While the focus is on the act of seeking alms, no attention is paid to the underlying factors behind it, thus perpetuating the state of destitution for the individuals concerned.
- Article 38 of the Constitution provides that the state shall secure a social order for the promotion of welfare of the people. Entry nine in the State List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution makes “the relief of the disabled and unemployable” a state subject.
Why the people enter into the Begging?
- Poverty; the inability to procure jobs due to illiteracy or lack of skills; disability or disease; and destitution due to old age or mental illness are some of the reasons behind a person entering into begging, often reaching a state of destitution where survival becomes the only concern.
- A study done by Koshish on destitution in Bangaluru confirms that people get into begging due to their extreme states of vulnerability and after every other possible support mechanism collapses.
Know About Koshish
- Koshish, a field action project of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), which works with the homeless and those arrested under the beggary prevention law in Bihar, Maharashtra, and Delhi.
- Koshish works with government systems to ensure the protection of legal rights and rehabilitation of citizens detained in beggars’ homes in two states—Maharashtra and Delhi. Additionally, Koshish runs community-based intervention in Bihar.
Ethical issues in the Anti-begging laws
- Implementation – The mechanics of the implementation of anti-begging legislation makes one wonder whether the efforts are directed towards ending begging (as the state claims) or are part of a planned strategy to hide the failure of governance by removing the poor from cities.
- Often, persons with alcohol or drug addictions are processed by the law as beggars, further reinforcing the image of destitute persons as “anti-social.”
- Identification – Regular raids are conducted by the police to “pick up” beggars. During these raids, any person who “looks like a beggar” is arrested, without a warrant, and brought to court for a summary trial. The court then sends these people to beggars’ homes on remand. During the remand period, a social enquiry is conducted by a probation officer to find out whether or not the person was begging. The focus is always on whether or the person had been begging rather than trying to find out the reasons for begging. In the process, a large number of people, especially the aged and abandoned or those with physical or mental illnesses, get penalised for being in a state of destitution.
- With the arrest of an individual, their family too bears the brunt of the arrest, as they may be dependents, and especially puts their children at risk. The arrest of an earning member could result in a parent being forced to beg, children dropping out of school and/or being forced into begging or child labour, or the female spouse being forced to work in an exploitative situation.
- The lack of prompt and quality medical care for those arrested and detained, many of whom suffer from communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, leads to numerous deaths in these homes.
- Social Attitude – Some of the other popular myths about those involved in begging include their image as “idlers” and the view that begging is a means of “making easy money.” The people worst affected by these laws are the aged, the abandoned, the disabled, the mentally ill, the destitute, abused women, persons afflicted with leprosy, drug addicts, and transgender persons and members of the hijra community
- Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-nomadic Tribes – These communities have culturally and historically been involved in occupations such as hunting, fortune telling, snake charming, street performances, warding off the evil eye, and begging. Members of these communities possess skills related to their traditional occupations but have been forced to abandon the same as they have lost their relevance with changing socio-economic realities and because beggary prevention laws outlaw these age-old occupations.
- One such notion is that most people involved in begging are part of organised gangs and criminal networks. However, in the past 50 years or so since the beggary prevention laws were legislated, there have been hardly any arrests of alleged begging racketeers. Instead, most arrested people have been “caught” for begging.
- The role of the state as a protector of the life and well-being of its citizens underlines its responsibility to reach out to the destitute and those involved in begging as well as to understand their psychological, social, economic, and cultural contexts.
- As the first challenge, the change of the attitude- The realisation that one is dealing with a population that has been left behind in the process of development and is being pushed to the margins.
- The need is to adopt a model of development where all sections of the society are included as an integral component of city spaces.
- The first step towards achieving this end would be to identify and understand the reasons that lead people towards begging. Factors ranging from extreme poverty, forced migration, lack of opportunities for “decent work,” destitution, chronic illness, family conflict, and caste- and gender-based discrimination force the marginalised into begging.
- Legislation and policy should provide for structures and an institutional framework that builds people’s capacities to move out of destitution.
- Instead of putting people behind closed institutions, the emphasis should be on creation of shelters and soup kitchens to provide temporary succour to people in distress.
- There are several myths that surround the people living in destitution. By creating awareness, building the capacities of the affected groups, and highlighting the hidden or unrepresented side of the lives of the homeless and destitute, it is possible to break these myths and effect a change in perceptions and attitudes at various levels.