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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 November 2006, 19:47 GMT
India eunuchs turn tax collectors
See the tax-collecting eunuchs

Tax authorities in one Indian state are attempting to persuade debtors to paying their bills - by serenading them with a delegation of singing eunuchs.

Eunuchs are feared and reviled in many parts of India, where some believe they have supernatural powers.

Often unable to gain regular employment, the eunuchs have become successful at persuading people to part with their cash.

The eunuchs will get a commission of 4% of any taxes collected.

In Bihar's capital, Patna, officials felt deploying the eunuchs was the only way to prompt people to pay up.

We are confident that their reputation and persuasive skills will come in handy
Bharat Sharma
Patna official

"We are collecting taxes for the municipal corporation, collecting money from those who have not paid their taxes for years," said Saira, one of the eunuchs on the streets of Patna.

"Tax payment is necessary. When the corporation won't have any money how will they look after the people?"

Accompanied by police officers, the eunuchs approached shopkeepers and large defaulters on their first foray into tax collection.

"Pay the tax, pay the Patna Municipal Corporation tax," the eunuchs sang as they approached Ram Sagar Singh, who owed 100,000 rupees (1,180), the AFP news agency reported.

Mortified by the commotion, Mr Singh reportedly agreed to pay up within a week.

The eunuchs collected about 400,000 rupees on their first day of work, authorities said, sharing 16,000 rupees (188) amongst themselves.

Bharat Sharma, a revenue officer, told the Associated Press agency he was pleased with the eunuchs' work.

"We are confident that their reputation and persuasive skills will come in handy," he said.




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