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It’s pretty simple actually. I don’t want to judge anyone or make them feel guilty. Because that is not going to achieve anything. But I can convey my truth. It may hurt some egos but that is not my problem.The truth is that in spite of there being an act to punish any Government official who employs someone for manual scavenging, no one wants to implement that act. Because if they do hundreds of these officials and politicians will be accountable.This problem can be solved to a great extent by employing machinery but no one will do it. They say it’s about funds, but actually, it’s about what we think about those workers.The government, opposition and officials don’t treat them as humans. They don’t want to. Because if they did, they wouldn’t have allowed anyone to step in that gutter.They consider themselves to be superior in status/caste. They would rather see these labourers continue this inhuman practice and die in the gutter instead of making sure that they get rehabilitated into some other professionMedia doesn’t care about them. Neither do we (at least most of us). But we want them to stay in those gutters. Or else our cities will be floating with the sewage water.There is no point in talking about the intricacies of the law, assign blame to the state or centre or both, talk about the number of deaths or even their reasons. Because newspapers are filled with articles on this issue. It’s like we realise their existence only when our gutters are overflowing and we need someone to do this because we even dread the thought of accidentally falling in those gutters. Stepping in them, even if we were paid to do so, is out of the question. We would rather steal and kill than get in this profession but we would gladly pay someone a pittance to do this.It’s time to accept that we, especially those in the upper castes (castes exist in every religion in our country), want the manual scavengers to clean our waste by literally immersing themselves in it but we don’t want to see, hear or speak about them whether they live or die. And when they die we want a ready replacement. That’s why manual scavenging will never end in India.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
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