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Odisha becomes first state to give social welfare benefits to transgender community

Odisha is first in the country to give transgender people social welfare benefits - such as a pension, housing and food grains - usually allocated for only the most impoverished. 

•    Niten Chandra, principal secretary of Odisha's Department of Social Security , said the move to give the transgender community the same benefits as those living below the poverty line was aimed at improving their overall social and economic status. 
•    Most transgender people are in a very bad condition because of social exclusion.
•    There are no official figures, but activists say there are hundreds of thousands of transgender people in India. 
•    A lack of access to education and employment opportunities has meant many male-to-female transgender people - also known as "hijras" - end up forced into sex work or moving around in organized groups, begging or demanding money. 
•    India's Supreme Court in 2014 recognized transgender as a legal third gender and called on the government to ensure their equal treatment. 
•    The court recognized the community as a marginalized group and directed authorities to implement policies to improve their socio-economic status. 
•    Identity documents such as birth certificates, driving licenses and passports must now recognize the third gender, and a certain number of public sector jobs , seats in schools and colleges must be allocated to third-gender applicants.

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