February 13, 2018, At around 4 pm, the caretaker of Hotel Yumlok in AECS Layout, Marathalli , Bangalore, had asked two daily wage workers – Ramu (25) and Ravi (28) to get down the drainage tank and clean up the clogged drains. The waste from the kitchen and toilets had clogged the drainage pipes. Initially, Ramu let down a rope and went down the septic tank. A few minutes later, there was no sound coming from there. That’s when Ravi got worried and he went down to see what had happened. A few minutes later, there was no sign of Ravi as well. The hotel manager then called fire and emergency services.
Even before people realized that it was human beings stuck inside and their consciences made them feel guilty, Ramu and Ravi, died of suffocation, due to poisonous gases inside the septic tank.
What is the meaning life? What is the meaning of Death? Both are the same to the manual scavengers in our country, who are in Deep Shit.
Manual Scavenging is something that is legally outlawed but still continued…
Who continues ? You will be surprised to know – ‘The Govt of India’ . The govt has told that it has banned ‘Manual Scavenging’. We all believe the govt and hence we are all fooled by the fact that manual scavenging is no more.
Have you ever realized the largest or longest set of toilets ? It is the Indian Railways. The longest set of Toilets, the Indian Trains are used by all who travel in it. This longest toilet chain is cleaned by not machines but humans. This makes Indian Railways – the biggest employer of manual scavengers.
According to the India Census 2011, there are more than 2.6 million dry latrines in the country. There are 13,14,652 toilets where human excreta is flushed in open drains, 7,94,390 dry latrines where the human excreta is cleaned manually. Seventy three percent of these are in rural areas and 27 percent are in urban areas.
In 1993, India banned the employment of people as manual scavengers. In 2013 Dec 6 – Manual Scavengers Act was passed enforcing the ban on Manual Scavenging.
Ladies , gentlemen and whosoever thought manual scavenging is no more, the law still exists and manual scavenging too exists.
Manual scavenging is an outcome of caste based discrimination in our country.
However, despite the films, the news reports and the passing of the Supreme Court judgments, the lives of Pencilamma and Raniamma has never changed (doesn’t seem to change). BANDH – a short story about manual scavengers of KGF
While you’re reading this, for Dalit Safai Karamcharis the wait for equality, for people to shit a shit, for their own Government to deliver justice, seems endless. The harsh truth I found while researching for this project, is that while the architects of Modern India might have banned caste based discrimination, and untouchability, and as well as pushed for affirmative action and had lofty ideals of equality of opportunity where even a chai wala can become a PM, and yet after 71 years of Independence, caste privilege and even caste discrimination remain engrained in our society.
We are all not born equal, merit is not isolated from social standing, it is amplified by privilege. This is demonstrated in the data of sanitation workers around the country.
We have capacity to launch one rocket with 104 satellites at once. Wow!!! Greatest things… Celebrate it….
But at the same time, we don’t have any technology to clean septic tank 5-10ft below you… we do ask human beings to enter and clean…
10470 citizens died at the sewer lines and septic tanks…
It is not just enough with smart cities… we need smarter sanitation…
Imagine , If I have to write about our times about hundred years from now, how would I describe it ? The biggest hypocrisy of our times is our attitude towards the most downtrodden of our society.
Don’t you think we have developed a very strong capacity to see and look away.. ?
Why are we not able to find a solution? Because, we are most interested in what affects us. We believe cleaning isn’t our job.
This is a national shame, while our own citizens are in deep shit.