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A brief profile

Nov 12, 2019: The Times of India

Swaradhar is a music troupe with a difference. All the members of the 50-strong group were once street singers. Around 30 are visually challenged artists belonging to Vangani community of Maharashtra and Boisor community of Rajasthan. The eldest performer is 72-year-old and the youngest is 17.

These singers were brought together by Mumbai-based Hemlata Tiwari, who formed an NGO to rehabilitate the street singers.

“On May 2010, I was travelling in a local train towards Andheri to attend a musical event and met two artists sitting and singing on a platform of Panvel station for livelihood. Just like others I also gave them money and moved away. While listening to the big musical event, I remembered the two artists I saw at the station. While one is receiving very little appreciation, while the other artists are receiving the same in abundance in the form of fame, respect and a standing ovation. This thought provoked me to come up with the idea of Swaradhar”, said Tiwari, who accompanied the troupe to the city.

Her initiative is to provide respect and social inclusion to one of the most neglected section in society. Swaradhar identifies the marginalized singers who were willing to come out of their comfort zone, give them training in music and organize workshops to help them with personality development, presentation skills, communication skills and legal rights.

“They have faced a lot of humiliation from society because of their attire. Workshops are meant to improve their skills. Now the team performs at various Ganpati pandals, during domestic functions and also hold stage shows, music concerts and attends television programmes,” said Tiwari. “Vision of Swaradhar is to give recognition to every talented artist, empowering the street singers whom the society calls beggars, ensuring financial security to them and thereby changing the mindset of the society,” she said.

On Sunday, 18 singers had arrived here and performed a two-hour-long music concert at Sai Gramam, Thonnackal as a part of Sree Sathya Sai Baba’s 94th birth anniversary celebrations. Pradip Kumar, 32, a blind artist from Pune who joined Swaradhar in 2012 said that the organization had changed the mentality of public

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