Swachchakar Dignity

A blog to give you first hand reports on the conditions of Swachchkar community, their issues and concerns. A campaign for complete abolition of scavenging practices and brigning forth the growing voices of change with in the community.

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Learning through working. Working at the grassroots made me realise the big difference between those who claim to represent communities as well as the communities themselves. Common man is crushed between the ambitions of various individuals to lead and dominate. The dominant and high numbered communities will always dominate our discourse and the most marginalised are losing in this entire discourse. That is the reason why Mushahar remain at the marginalised and the issue of manual scavenging still not on our top agenda and to eliminate that the community has to decide its own organisations..


I am devoted to freedom of ideas and expression. I personally feel that we in the subcontinent want to dominate and control our discourse and each one of is a ultra nationalist in terms of their caste and community. Nationalism is not just national and political but it is equally in term of religion and caste. I feel each kind of nationalism is a dominant discourse which deny the dissenter a right to speak.

At the end, we all want to listen the truth suitable to us.. we have become expertised in the art of speaking truth of convenience. As long as that remain hall mark of our society and we speak to already converts, this society will remain stagnant, it will always try to control our ideas and choices. We need to oppose any such perception, ideas that want to control our mind and victimise us.

To understand India further, I feel, it is good to do foot walk, ( Padyatras) to various parts of the country. I have so far done it thrice covering nearly 1500-2000 kilometers. It is always interesting to see how people are coping their issues and what is the reason of their exploitation.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Building a movement of Self Respect by Swachchkar community of Mohammadabad, Ghazipur

Dear friends,

My dear friend and colleague in Ghazipur Raj Kapoor Rawat who hails from Swachchkar community decided to find a new word of identity for their community. Apprehensive of Valmiki or Safai Karmcharies, as used to mention those work in municipality, Rajkapoor and his friends coined the word Swachchakar to give an identity to their community in which not only those who work in the municipalities but also outside it could feel attached to it. Hence, I felt that this blog be named after the community Swachchkar. We shall try to give stories and fact files about the community all over the country. Apart from it, the blog will carry reports, as well as some of our work in the community in Ghazipur in particular and other parts of the country in General. We request you to send details of violation of human rights of Scavenger community, reports, photographs etc so that the matters could be taken up with National and International bodies.


Let us work to rehabilitate and rebuild the Swachchkar community by educating their girls


If there is one community among various Dalit communities which still work its hereditary profession, it is the manual scavengers. It is shocking that the government's programme or liberation theology of the various religious camps have not worked for the benefits of the scavengers. The government of India has proposed a National Action Plan for Total Eradication of Manual Scavenging by 2007. It is strange that government own reports are contradicting their earlier positions which claims manual scavenging as an offense. If the government had declared manual scavenging an offense in 1993, how many cases it had filed against the erring officials and individuals who force people to work on such filth.

According to government of india report Rs 34.97 Crore were released for training of 5649 scavengers and rehabilitation of 26721 scavengers in 2003-05. It is equally interesting to note that many Indian states including Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Uttar-Pradesh and Chhatisgarh have said that they have achieved much beyond their target in liberating the scavengers and rehabilitating them. The government of India say that there are 2,33,319 scavengers who need rehabilitation now.

These figures themselves are highly questionable. The states which have done more than what they could have present horrible conditions of Scavengers. One need to answer how could a meager 34 Crore rupees amount for two year is enough to rehabilitate over 26000 scavegers. What did government do ? What exactly is liberation of scavenger mean.

On October 2, 1991, Mr Bindeshwar Pathak, chairman of Sulabh International embarked on this 'Gandhian liberation theology' of scavengers. Some scavenger families were adopted by big names of the media and bureacracy that time, yet nothing happened. Sulabh is a commercial venture whose power rest in the hands of mighty brahmins and where the scevengers still work in the toilets.

We need to ask this question to ourself what do we mean by liberation. Does it mean the government is providing them alternative modules or does it mean that government has just brought them to Nagar Palikas to clean the streets and sewage line. Uttar-Pradesh chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav had promised to fill 3 lakh vacancies of Safai karmcharis in various Nagar Palikas in the state. Now some of the old faishoned may feel great idea of creation of jobs but then it is the same trick of keeping them entrapped in the vicious cycle.\n\n \nWhat could be the liberation of scavengers. The Dalit groups did not reach them. Dr Ambedkar tried \nin Punjab, some of the Valmikis supported him. Dr Bhagwan Das is the best known intellectual face of the community, an Ambedkarite and Buddhist.\n \nWell, I have been involved in raising some of the issues concerning the sweeper community in different parts of India. At least in Howarh and Ghazipur, we tried to develop ideas and community leadership and the results are looking impressive. In Ghazipur we not only successfully campaigned for the minimum wages issue of some of the workers in the municipality, vocational training for scavneger girls in sewing also started. We were able to raise some funds for the education of 5 scavenger girls. They are working well and now three community girls are learning computers also ( again resources were generated for their computer education). During our work we found that the new young of the community do not want to stick to tradition and this work. In fact, many of them would not even like to see towards that tradition of cleaning and scavenging. Young girls are aspiring to become doctors, engineers, teachers and civil servants. In Howarh, I found an scavenger woman, who was involved in manual scavenging, today, head clerk in Railways. Her determination kept her children away from this tradition. There are many young boys who are wonderful artists, mucisians and also participated in national TV Singing programme of Sony entertainment channel. There are writers, poets who are developing new ideas.

We need to ask this question to ourself what do we mean by liberation. Does it mean the government is providing them alternative modules or does it mean that government has just brought them to Nagar Palikas to clean the streets and sewage line. Uttar-Pradesh chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav had promised to fill 3 lakh vacancies of Safai karmcharis in various Nagar Palikas in the state. Now some of the old faishoned may feel great idea of creation of jobs but then it is the same trick of keeping them entrapped in the vicious cycle.

What could be the liberation of scavengers. The Dalit groups did not reach them. Dr Ambedkar tried in Punjab, some of the Valmikis supported him. Dr Bhagwan Das is the best known intellectual face of the community, an Ambedkarite and Buddhist.

Well, I have been involved in raising some of the issues concerning the sweeper community in different parts of India. At least in Howarh and Ghazipur, we tried to develop ideas and community leadership and the results are looking impressive. In Ghazipur we not only successfully campaigned for the minimum wages issue of some of the workers in the municipality, vocational training for scavneger girls in sewing also started. We were able to raise some funds for the education of 5 scavenger girls. They are working well and now three community girls are learning computers also ( again resources were generated for their computer education).

During our work we found that the new young of the community do not want to stick to tradition and this work. In fact, many of them would not even like to see towards that tradition of cleaning and scavenging. Young girls are aspiring to become doctors, engineers, teachers and civil servants. In Howarh, I found an scavenger woman, who was involved in manual scavenging, today, head clerk in Railways. Her determination kept her children away from this tradition. There are many young boys who are wonderful artists, mucisians and also participated in national TV Singing programme of Sony entertainment channel. There are writers, poets who are developing new ideas.

SDF is involved in this process of developing the community youths into new ventures. We feel that the focus should be on scavenger girls. They are the victim with in the family. Ghazipur support to 5 girls have shown results. They are now high in aspirations and want to go further for education. We wish similar experiment is done on a larger scale. Therefore we prpose our friends and supporters to\n\nprovide scholarship for five years for one scavenger girls. We plan to take up the issue of 50 girls who are faring well in education. We wish that we take this support to logical conclusion by providing them proper guidence for higher courses and meeting their expenses. If we are able to create 50 scavenger girls as journalist, film makers, doctors, Civil Servants, IT professional in next five years, that would be the real liberation of the community. Remember, community learn from its own people. We do hope that in this noble venture, you will stand with Social Development Foundation. We have already made a film Badlav Ki Chah\' ( Cry for change) on the aspirations of these girls and boys in Mohammdabad, Ghazipur. We are planning the same from Howarh. You will be surprise to see their aspirations and work.We feel that a lead has to be taken in this regard. The 21st century is the century of ideas, Let us shape the ideas for this most oppressed Dalit community. Let us show the world that merit is not domain of a few. Merit is the opportunity provided. Let us provide opportunity to scavenger girls. Let us pledge for 50 scavnger girls all over the country. You will be part of every details that we do in this regard. The entire process would be transperent and a committee would be formed to look the progress of the girls.Social development Foundation is a registered charitable trust. It has been involved in human rights education programme and it work to impart humanistic values. You can have a look at " www.thesdf.org

SDF is involved in this process of developing the community youths into new ventures. We feel that the focus should be on scavenger girls. They are the victim with in the family. Ghazipur support to 5 girls have shown results. They are now high in aspirations and want to go further for education. We wish similar experiment is done on a larger scale. Therefore we prpose our friends and supporters to provide scholarship for five years for one scavenger girls. We plan to take up the issue of 50 girls who are faring well in education. We wish that we take this support to logical conclusion by providing them proper guidence for higher courses and meeting their expenses. If we are able to create 50 scavenger girls as journalist, film makers, doctors, Civil Servants, IT professional in next five years, that would be the real liberation of the community. Remember, community learn from its own people. We do hope that in this noble venture, you will stand with Social Development Foundation. We have already made a film Badlav Ki Chah' ( Cry for change) on the aspirations of these girls and boys in Mohammdabad, Ghazipur. We are planning the same from Howarh. You will be surprise to see their aspirations and work.

We feel that a lead has to be taken in this regard. The 21st century is the century of ideas, Let us shape the ideas for this most oppressed Dalit community. Let us show the world that merit is not domain of a few. Merit is the opportunity provided. Let us provide opportunity to scavenger girls. Let us pledge for 50 scavnger girls all over the country. You will be part of every details that we do in this regard. The entire process would be transperent and a committee would be formed to look the progress of the girls.


Thank you,

Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Director,
Social Development Foundation,
188, Master Block, Street No 5
Shakarpur Extension,
Delhi-110092
Tel : 011-65902846, 22462528
Website : www.thesdf.org

1 Comments:

Blogger rishi prakash said...

I m Dr Rishi Prakash Singh, residing in Delhi. I appreciate ur vision, hard work and ur sentiments with which u are doing the incredible job of motivating, uplifting this poorest of poor community. What u have done in Mohammadabad, Ghazipur is highly commendable. I also want to participate in this movement so as to fulfill the social responsibility which everybody owe to the society. I will highly appreciate ur gesture of fixing an appointment for me so that i can meet u.

6:43 AM  

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