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How Many More Lives The Evil Of Manual Scavenging Will Claim?

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Can you imagine yourself deep down in a gutter filled with human excreta and you cleansing it with a spade or scooping the muck with your bare hands? Can you imagine yourself surrounded by the unpleasant foul smell that can make you feel nauseated? Can you imagine yourself in a pool of human feces, urine and all the bizarre things that you can think of?

“Not At All!!” – This is the line that a majority of individuals will utter after listening to the above statements. But do we realize that there is an enormous number of people in this country who have to perform this task involuntarily? Just because they are born in a so-called lower stratum of caste.

In a caste divided society like India, the choice of occupation is not based on an individual’s preferences or capabilities, but it’s decided by their birth in a particular caste. In the whole world, India is the only country where a certain section of society is conventionally obligated to keep the surroundings squeaky clean. Their caste-designated occupation reinforces the social stigma that the person performing the task is grubby, untouchable or polluting. They are alienated from the mainstream.

This agitates the mind of the responsible citizens that why the country still continues to permit this inhumane and illegal practice?

Manual scavenging refers to the practice of manually cleaning excrement from private and public dry toilets, drains and sewers. In India, Manual Scavenging has been banned in the year 1993 but it still exists in our society. Gigantic numbers of people die and others are prone to diseases.  While the developed nations of the world have switched to sewage treatment through sustainable development and use of robots and machinery, India is still dependent on manual labour.

A country where we speak about “Swachh Bharat(Clean India)“, a mammoth number of deaths occur in the sewage plants cleaning the same Bharat(India).

Our government talks about solving every other problem of the citizens of this country. We want to grow like the big developed countries in almost every other field like technology, art, music, transport, infrastructure, etc. We often try to adapt new skills of the developed nations but why the issue of manual scavenging is barely addressed?

We are living in the 21st century and it’s shocking to accept that casteism still holds power despite the teachings of the renowned reformers.

Manual Scavenging is a dark reality and there are few things that should be observed to end this vicious practice :

  1. The government elected by the people of the country who’s answerable to the citizens should not just keep making amendments, and form laws. They should actually work on it. They should not confine it merely on papers.
  2. Secondly, it’s really necessary to change the perspective and mindset of the people. The discriminated people often think that it’s their task to perform such indignifying task. Do they have this perception that if they won’t do it who will? The society injects in their mind that they belong to the “lower – caste” and it’s their job to do it. People should rise up and raise their voices. Even the youth of this country should try to change the social stigma stuck in people’s mind and educate the citizens that “casteism” is just a product of people’s ideology and it’s high time that we put an end to it.
  3. The Indian Railways play a major part in employing the manual scavengers too. Every other person must have traveled from the trains in India. And we all know that where the human excreta lands up. Yes, on the tracks.
    And then it’s manual scavengers who have to clean it up. Railways should be installed and equipped with the retention tanks which will keep the environment clean and save these less-fortunate people from performing this filthy task.
  4. Along with that, the decision to use machines, robots or new technologies to tackle the situations should be welcomed because that will suspend the human intervention in manholes for once and all.
  5. The state should also be working on formulating some kind of rehabilitative plans for the workers who may lose their means of earning if the aforementioned rules are implemented. Since many people are forced to become manual scavengers because of the lack of any alternative means of subsistence.

Let’s hope that a world without the inhuman practice of manual scavenging is not a distant dream.

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