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.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Madras High Court's notice on Manual Scavenging

Some good news and friends like Anant Narayan must be complimented for fighting the cause.

HC seeks report on removal of manual scavenging

Express News Service First Published : 29 Jul 2010 03:13:58 AM ISTLast Updated : 29 Jul 2010 08:40:13 AM IST
CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has directed the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply & Sewerage Board (CMWS&SB) boss to submit a preliminary report on the steps to eliminate manual scavenging and improving the sewerage system in the State.
The CMWS&SB managing director had earlier been appointed by the court as the chairman of a special committee to study the issue. The HC has now asked him to hold a meeting in the first week of August and submit a preliminary report.
The First Bench comprising Chief Justice M Y Eqbal and Justice T S Sivagnanam gave the direction while passing orders on an application arising out of a contempt petition from A Narayanan, trustee of Sevaman Trust in Virugambakkam, on July 22.
Earlier on August 5, 2009, the bench had passed an order on a public interest writ petition from Narayanan.
The bench had constituted a special committee for providing suggestions and recommendations to improve the drainage system and maintain the overall environment in metropolitan cities and towns in the State.
The CMWS&SB in its report had submitted that entry of sanitary workers into the manholes in the sewerage systems had been stopped and machineries had been utilised for maintaining the sewerage system.
However, Narayanan, who was also a member of the committee, alleged that the committee members and the chairman were not taking the issue seriously. No concrete decisions had so far been taken.
“Considering the seriousness of the matter, we think it proper that this bench should monitor the further course of action and the steps that may be taken by the authorities responsible to remove the old system,” the bench observed and gave the direction.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Manual Scavenging : Our biggest failure as a nation

Elimination of manual Scavenging should be made the National Priority

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

It’s a town sandwiched between two important cities of Uttar-Pradesh namely Allahabad and Kanpur. It is a town which was once represented by a former prime minister in Parliament. Unlike Amethi and Raibarelley, it could not become a VIP town which could have changed its fortune. Yes, we are talking about Fatehpur, a rural district headquarter in Central Uttar-Pradesh which is just 120 kilometer away from Allahabad city. Yet, the urban Fatehpur and its rural areas still have rampant manual scavenging. Painful thing is that in many villages even children are engaged to do this most inhuman work. It is not just Fatehpur but even the cities like Gorakhpur, Rudrapur, Laar, Mau, Mohammdabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Musanagar and many other small towns too have the scavenging practices. Of course, on the record of the municipalities, it does not exist and they can easily make loud claims that they have already eliminated. Yet, reality is different.

While politically the district may have changed a lot in the past 20 years yet one of the major concerns which most of the human rights activists have is the power of the upper caste remain intact and the violence against the Dalits rampant, though not much reported in the media. Just a year back when two boys from Balmiki community died while cleaning the safety tank of a toilet owned by a Brahmin. When the gas emerged from the safety tank, both the boys cried yet there was no support provided by the owner of the house and they died. After a few days cries the situation came back to normal and resulted in an unfortunate ‘compromise’, with a few thousand rupees as compensation for the family deceased. The compromise was force by various political forces which shows how despite political change in Uttar-Pradesh the power politics still remain in the hand of the mighty feudal upper caste elements.

Though the Nagar-Palikas may report the number of the manual scavengers as nothing the fact is that the practice is growing and has been feminized. In 2006, by government’s own admission there were nearly Six lakhs Seventy Six thousand manual scavengers all over the country but the Safai Karmchari Andolan felt it was over 1.3 million that time. But the most shocking figures have recently come when the government says that the number of manual scavengers in the country is reduced to just one lakh Seventy thousand. The government has admitted its failure as they have not been able to stick to their deadlines to complete this. The question is how are they going to rehabilitate the people in the process? The government may consider it one of the economic activity yet it is a socio-cultural issue too that expose the dirty side of our system. By its own admission, the government is suggesting that it would completely eliminate the manual scavenging by December 2010. The government talks about municipalities and those related to it but the fact is as unplanned urbanization process start, the problem of manual scavenging is growing. The fact of the matter is that government agencies have been ruthless in their neglect towards the issues of the community.

Builders eye the Balmiki Bastis

The incidents are common in different parts of the country. If they are living in houses provided to them by municipality then they are under the threat as the builders and land mafia often eye those locations which are central of the city. It was the British who were kind enough to provide residential quarters to the community engaged in sanitation work. After the British left, the municipalities have done little to improve the condition of the people. Instead, most often, these municipalities threaten the communities often and target their houses. The recent example of incident in Karnataka is an eye opener where because of the fear the community people protested in the worst form by applying human excreta over their body to stop the demolition of their houses. That was a one of the most desperate protest by the community and one only adopt such in deep isolation and helplessness. We only react to those and therefore in most other places the people have been dislocated and one of the political parties ever raises their issue.

Take for example of Howarh municipal corporation case when they dislocated over seven thousand people from the Belilius Park in the middle of the city when an industrialist close to CPM filed a petition in the High Court that the living of the scavenging communities in this area was a threat to environment and the ‘honorable’ High court gave a decision to dislocate the vast scavenging communities mostly immigrants from UP, Bihar, Delhi and Haryana and see not a single political party came to support them. Mamta Banerjee who claims to represent people never ever bothered about them and most of these community people are living in a virtual hell in just 5000 square ft complex as many as 27 families staying together without any facility of toilet and bathrooms. People are living like insects and no air to breathe. How are their children going to study?
In most of the cases, both the parents go to work early morning around 6 without eating anything while handing over the homes and young children to elder daughters. The children face discrimination at school. Because of the burden at home most of them are unable to be regular at the school. The teachers remain mostly in caste mind. The boycott of mid day meal being cooked by dalit cook has been in the news for the past few weeks in Uttar-Pradesh, forcing the government of state to withdraw the Dalit cooks where the children are not ready to eat food being cooked by them. And one can never think that a woman from scavenging community would ever be able to become a cook at a school. It is beyond our imagination whether any one would eat food cooked by her. And why should government succumb to such nonsense where student refuse to eat her food. The government must not give food to the upper caste children. Let them bring food from their home and completely bar from holding any government positions in future.

Manual Scavenging in Uttar-Pradesh

Manual scavenging has not got its due attention from the government and policy makers because of its inherent racist nature. The governments on the one side work on papers and provide fictitious figures of development while hounding the community people for their ‘alleged’ violation of the ‘Elimination of manual scavenging act’. Uttar-Pradesh government last year went on spree to recruit one lakh sweepers in the village areas. This resulted in a massive response by even the upper castes applying for the job. For many living in their own world, it was like India’s biggest social change where the caste Hindus applying for sweeper’s work but is it possible for a country to find upper caste sweepers when their arrogant children refuse to eat mid day meal cooked by the Dalit cooks. Hence the reality of the upper caste sweepers remained like absentee landlord where the government salary is owned by the person who sign the register and sub let that job to a Balmiki. In fact, during my conversation in a number of Safai-Karmcharis, I found that even if they do not let their job done to others, the upper castes are carefully not given the sweeping and cleaning their work. So in a majority of Nagar-Palikas if some upper castes or non Swachchakar, non Balmikis have taken to sanitation job, they do not indulge in the job. They are simply doing office work. So, the appointment is in the name of sweeper while the work of office assistance is being taken. The corruption is so high that some of the community took heavy loans from money lenders to get the job and yet failed to so and now living in deeply desperate situation. Many of them sold their small belongings to get this ‘sarkari’ job. Unable to get any thing and trapped in the corruption they force their children into scavenging.

The tragic part in UP is that the Balmiki Vimukti Yojna is not visible at all. Perhaps the government does not think that manual scavenging is prevalent in Uttar-Pradesh. We have the footage of many town areas in Uttar-Pradesh where manual scavenging is in practice and the authorities are not able to do anything accept whenever the cases have come to their highlight they threaten the people with dire action. One is not surprised that such responses do not result in elimination of scavenging but put the people on alert and therefore they do not report to the government. Rehabilitation is an important area where the governments have miserably failed.

Municipalities: The biggest offenders

In Uttar-Pradesh the contract labor has further aggravated the situation and the government and municipal bodies must be taken to task for violating the basic human rights of the people from scavenging communities for their inability to provide honorable job grounds and social security for those in the work. The first thing about the contract labors is that it does not really fulfill minimum wages criteria and there is no social security, no health insurance for the person. Secondly, in most of the cases, it is being taken over by men as the nagar-Palikas are not appointing families and in that case it is the woman who has to face the brunt. In leave because of ailment and the payment gets cut. There are no holidays, no social security and working in such dire conditions makes you sick yet there is no compensation for your ailment. Contrary to this, the salary gets cut and by the month end the salary accrued is much lower than the person deserved. The pain gets aggravated during national holidays and festivities when rest of the world celebrates with their children, this community has to forget its own pains and continue the work for meager amount.

One must understand that for the community the job at municipality is like get rid of the filthy work at the private latrines for nothing. So most of them feel that municipal job give them a social security as well as better life as plain sweeping and cleaning streets looks still better than that dehumanizing work that has kept community subjugated for years. But during the past few years the government has completely put the sanitation services on contracts basis therefore resulting a much difficult condition for the community. However, the more difficulty lies in with fewer employees and more work. One must understand that the size of the original municipalities and sizes have grown enormously thus making the old arrangements virtually redundant. The Nagar-Palikas are on the spree of reducing the size of the work. So, almost same people are cleaning the garbage of 5 times more people at the moment.

And the biggest casualty in this is the contract workers who are forced to do the work much more then their energy. Those who are fixed become bosses. These contract workers have the worst case scenario at home. They feel that despite these hardships they would be confirmed as workers and their children would have a bright future. But Uttar-Pradesh is unique in this. The people who left the scavenging and joined Nagar-Palika’s contract labor actually could not afford to stop their wives from doing the private work of manual scavenging. I tried to investigate this matter at different level and through 10 years of my searching for private latrines and video graphing those filthy conditions, on many occasions my friends left me there to evade those dirty things. Even during the filming of these events, most of the friends leave the place.. One can imagine when we can not see how degrading and dehumanizing it would be for those who are involved in the work and yet it does not become our national priority. It does not hurt any one. The real reason for women getting involved in the practice is the brutal scenario that municipalities have done with the contract labours or simply called ‘Samvida’ in Uttar-Pradesh.

The municipalities of Uttar-Pradesh must be taken to task for most dehumanizing and insensitive attitude towards this community. Most of them never really pay salaries to these people on time. Yes, Nagarpalikas must be charged for dereliction of their social duty as well as their inability to pay the contract workers on time. In most cases they get salary only after four to six months. They shout, protest and the Nagarpalikas give them two months salary and again remain with the same backlog. If some one protests much then he is threatened with termination. This is most insensitive. Till a year ago, this salary was around 2100 which does not even fulfill the basic criteria of Rs 100/- wage per day thus violating the very principals of minimum wages act. The backlog in payment has created a crisis like situation in many places in Uttar-Pradesh as the female ward of the contract staff returning to the original manual scavenging. They charge the government for being more insensitive to their needs. Most of them actually said that they are resorting to this as they can not see their children starving. The government has betrayed their cause they charge. It is easier to say why you do this but the pain and sense of betrayal is always visible in the faces of the community.

New Urbanisation and more feminization of the scavenging

While the details that the governments are providing are those which come under the town area. There is no news about the newly mushrooming semi urban villages or rural townships which are not under the municipalities. In these areas normally the people from Balmiki community are concentrated outside the village in a ghettoized rural slum exclusive for them. They are allowed to live in the village because they are doing the scavenging work otherwise they would be thrown away from these villages. I visited many villages in Mohammadabad and then in Fatehpur district where such a situation exist that if people want to leave this profession they wont be able to do so unless there is a social security not only terms of their job but also their housing. When I saw young children of 8 years involved in the practice, I could not hold my self feeling criminal in this country. Parents have forced their children into it. More and more women have turned to it because they do not get job in the municipality and when their husbands do not get salaries on time they have to depend on this.

The new urbanization process has created many things. One is feudal values remain the same hence despite economic problems the families want to look better and create concrete structure around them. However, the most neglected things in any family in India is its toilet. That shows our habit how we treat the people who are involved in it. A majority of them have not been able to do anything related to their toilets. There is no sewerage system in the village. The one system which is being popularized by the municipalities is called ‘bahau’ which is a cemented platform and once you defecate you just pour water and the human excreta go directly to the nearby open drains. Even for that purpose, a sweeper is required. The other is ‘Uthau’ which is where a pot is placed to defecate and the person come and place the excreta to her basket and throw it to some isolated place, mostly in the dirty ponds around the village where pigs and other animals roam around. So, despite modernity, the urbanization has not helped reduce it. Most of the people of scavenging community are completely landless and live on the mercy of the powerful community in the village. Like in villages in Mohammadbad, it is Bhumihars and Muslim localities in the villages where most of the scavenging takes place. In Fatehpur too it is the villages dominated by Muslims where scavenging is largely visible and the community people clearly informs us that if they leave this, they will have to be out of the village.

Racial discrimination and need strong measures

Recently report of mid day meals being cooked by Dalit cooks were not being eaten by by the non Dalit communities. In the past few years many dalit women have been making mid day meals at different schools and there was no opposition. Then what happened all of a sudden. The fact is that in three to four places the first time ever, Balmiki women were placed as cook and that lead to boycott of the mid day meal by the others. It is tragic that any effort to bring this community to mainstream and putting them into non sanitary work has many challenges and obstacles. That is one reason that it is easy to tell people to move to other work. The problem is what is ‘the’ other work? If a Balmiki boy start a tea shop in a village, the villagers at first instance, would not allow him to do it and even if he or she start it, it would be only possibly depend on the community. When the government of the state has succumbed to the pressure of the other communities and virtually humiliated the women who were involved in cooking of mid day meals by withdrawing its own order fixing quota for SC-ST-OBC people, then we can understand the situation in rural Uttar-Pradesh and Bihar.

This issue can not be kept under the carpet as a small matter. It is a serious matter and we will have to introspect as why such things are happening. Once we analyze the things in proper perspective we will understand why we are unable to eliminate manual scavenging.

The government and its authorities will have to work more seriously on the issue. It is a shame that the authorities have not been able to do anything. The entry of non Balmiki communities in to municipal job and their subleasing the job to the Balmikis again show how the forces of status quo are ready to foil every effort for the welfare of the community. It is up to the government to show its will. The scavenging communities have been betrayed by almost all the governments and political parties. Their representation is fairly low at every available space. It is time to think specific quota for them at the non sanitation profession to completely alienate them from the traditional occupations. The Municipalities must be made accountable and must be prosecuted for their failure to provide justice this community. You can not eliminate manual scavenging by victimizing the victims and threatening the very people who we have subjugated for years. All the cases of violation of rights of the community must be tackled seriously and municipalities hobnobbing with builders to throw them away from their locations must be booked under SC-ST prevention of Atrocities Act.

India has failed to protect its own people. It has failed to implement the rule of law as far as manual scavenging is concern. It is a national shame that the country is unable to eliminate it and that its children are still into this shameful practice. It is time it become our national priority and political parties and social movement takes the issue more serious and not in symbolic way.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Scavenging Still prevalent in Karnataka

`Inhuman' practise still prevalent in NK
Basavaraj F Kattimani, TNN, Jul 22, 2010, 10.38pm IST

HUBLI: The recent incident of some members of Bhangi community in Haveri district dousing themselves with faeces to draw the government's attention towards their problems has exposed the inhuman custom of collecting and carrying of human excreta.

Congress leader B Basalingappa, while serving as the minister in the then chief minister Devaraj Urs' cabinet, had made honest efforts to eradicate the practice by Bhangi community.

The society was supposed to have been free from the practise in 1976-77 itself. But the exploitation of the community -- to collect and dispose faeces -- continued clandestinely in most of the districts in the state, especially in north Karnataka region.

A study conducted by Hyderabad-Karnataka Vimochana Vedike (HKVV) and Sri Goutam Gram Kalyan (SGGK) - NGOs are striving to create awareness about the social evil - indicated its prevalence in the interior and backward villages of Gadag district, Kundgol taluk of Dharwad district, Rabakavi, Banahatti of Bagalkot district, Bijapur, Gulbarga, Bidar, Haveri, and Raichur districts. Forty families in Raichur besides over 1,200 families elsewhere in the region are indulging in the age-old practice at the behest of upper caste people.

This has been the case for decades now, according to Ambanna Arolikar, HKVV activist from Raichur, and SGGK president Parathsarati. "We have studied most of the districts in north Karnataka, only to see people of a certain section being exploited. They are also not being paid well," they added.

Bhangi community members are working at panchyats and municipal council as pourkarmikas, but their nature of work is to remove/ collect faeces with bare hands. With no safety gear, they get into manholes to clear the filth, and put their health to risk.

"We have urged the government to regularize their (Bhangi community members) job contracts, and pay a minimum salary of Rs 4,500," they said, adding their other demands are on ensuring their health, and encouraging their children to pursue education. However, their major demand is to put an end to the inhuman practice.

According to our findings, the lack of proper underground drainages in NK is the main reason for the exploitation of Bhangi community. "The government should at least now chalk out long-term plans to rehabilitate Bhangi families," Arolikar said.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

We need positive stories but can not ignore gross violation of human rights

An Awakening movement is essential to fight against oppression

I feel time has come to stop highlighting only atrocities and protests. It is time to highlight the inherent strengths of our people and build a future on that. Dalits should lead a struggle to usher in constitutional governance for all instead of all the time focusing on ghetto and pathos. You know the extent to which we have succeeded in this approach to Dalit liberation : M.C.Raj,

My response

Raj, I agree to some extent. We definitely should provide the success stories to instill confidence in the community. We have worked on that. But a country which claims and boast its 'liberal' thinking and rule of law, we can not really shut our eyes on this gross violation of human rights.

As a movement as you have done it in Tumkur and some of us trying to replicate in our part of the world, I agree that an awareness movement has to be build in the community but at the same time, I would say, with my own experience working with the community ( and I have been working with this community for over 15 years), I found that we need to provide alternative. We should force the government to do things but at the same time should not wait for them only.

I am sorry but being a human rights activists, I find these news depressing but can not sit on that depression only. We have to shame the government, the authorities that they are lying. That their promises remain false. We can not victimise the victims. The state too has a responsibility and we can not exonerate it. The battle for the change is both the ways. At one level, with in the community and on the other side forcing the government to act.

Just a few days back the government of India say there are just one lakh seventy thousand people involved in scavenging, which is grossly under evaluated. We have got information from various municipalities that they have finished it yet I have recently found that children too are involved in it.

While raising the issue of their violation of rights, we are trying to do our best to provide alternatives like computer education, libraries at the local level. My film ' Badlav Ki Chah' is an example from the community in Ghazipur where the young have revolted and today are completely liberated. We want Badlav ki chah' every where and it is our combined duty not to fear from stories of depression but to fight them out. It is not their fault if they are in the profession imposed by vicious brahmanical order, it is the reality of Indian society. It need to be exposed daily but definitely we must work on the models like Tumkurs.. it is battle which has to be fought at different level.. an awareness in the community and exposing the sinister brahmanical disorder.

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Finally, some promises by Karnataka minister !

Finally, an immediate action by the Karnataka government. Hope they will not wait for another day for ending similar protest elsewhere. States must be asked to furnish the true details of scavenging in their cities. Most of the data given by them look fictitious. Can we ask what have been the rehabilitation process? Let the Karnataka government take action against such municipalities where scavenging still persist.



Times of India, July 23rd, 2010

Bommai comes to rescue of dalit families
TNN, Jul 22, 2010, 03.41am IST


Tags:Bangalore|Basavaraj Bommai|water resources minister

HAVERI: Water resources minister Basavaraj Bommai visited Kamal Bangadi locality of Savanur on Wednesday afternoon and apologized to them for the inconvenience caused by the city municipal council officials. He also assured them of all help from the state government.

He heard out their grievances. "It is shocking news for me and I bow my head for the mistake of officials who took the extreme step of evacuating these families in the name of building a complex," he said.

He appealed to them to leave their jobs of cleaning toilets and collecting and dumping faeces. "You come out of this bhangi business and go for self-employment, loans will be sanctioned under different schemes," he said.

Criminal action against guilty: Addressing mediapersons after his visit, he said that DC H G Srivara is authorized to conduct an inquiry into the incident and that a report would be submitted to the government within seven days. Criminal action will be initiated against the guilty, he assured.

He also instructed the CMC not to disturb the dalit families. "Emotionally, they have been living here for the past seven decades, let them live here," he said.

Under the special scheme of 22.5%, the municipality will provide all basic infrastructure for their comfortable livelihood. Taps will be re-fitted within 24 hours. He instructed taluk magistrate Dr Prashant Nalwar to see that their children get free education and motivated them to join schools and colleges.

After the press meet, Bommai held a closed-door meeting with municipal, police and revenue officials about their negligence. Bommai was very angry with chief officer H N Bhajakkanavar for his inefficiency, sources said. BJP leader Somanna Bevinamarad and SP Dr Chandra Gupta were present.

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Karanataka's Shame

Indian State is a racist state. Its respective governments have failed in protecting the dignity and self respect of scavenging communities. It is shocking beyond anything. Where is our media. Will our MPs ever listen to these cries. will they hear the cries. Nothing is more shameful in this country than such incidents. If this is not a priority of the nation then what is the priority.

To save their humble homes, protesting Dalits smear themselves with human excreta
Protesting Dalits smear themselves with human excreta
Savanur (Haveri dist), July 20, DHNS

What can be said of a system that forces a community to inflict upon themselves the lowest form of humiliation, just so they are allowed to live in their own homes?

A basic right, taken for granted with no second thoughts for many, is a struggle for the Bhangi community in Savanur. The community members went as far as pouring human excreta over themselves, so that their voices are heard and as a sign of protest against those trying to evict them from their homes.


For the past 70 years, four families of the Bhangi community, who work as night soil workers, have been living in huts built on land belonging to the Savanur Town Municipal Council (TMC).

At a meeting some time ago, the TMC decided to evict the families and build a commercial complex in its place. Ever since, the TMC has employed various devious ways to force the families out of their homes.

Starting with an oral directive, the TMC has resorted to cutting water connection to the families, dumping waste in front of their homes, barging into their homes, insulting their women and threatening them.

The community members, who are treated as the lowest among the dalits, submitted an appeal to the sub-divisional officer in January against their eviction and have ever since submitted numerous appeals to the government over the past seven months.

Finding no sympathisers in the system for their cause, the community members finally resorted to this extreme form of protest on Tuesday.

The families submitted an appeal to the Assistant Commissioner on Monday demanding
temporary water connection. But they were asked to pay the TMC Rs 2,000 for each connection.

Helpless, the community members took out a mock funeral from their homes in Kamala Bangadi to the TMC on Tuesday. At the TMC, three members of the community poured human excreta over themselves and begged for water to clean themselves.

Officials apathy

As if this was not heart-wrenching enough, none of the officials at the Town Municipal Council came forward to receive their appeal.

A verbal duel ensued between TMC officials and Dalit Sangarsha Samithi activists. TMC Executive Officer H N Bajakkanavar defended the TMC, saying they never tried to evict the Bhangis, but added that TMC would provide houses for them under various housing schemes.

He also said only illegal water connections were cut off. However, the DSS pointed out that several illegal water connections in the town were untouched and only those feeding Bhangis were cut off. “This is harassment against a community that is still treated like untouchables,” they said.

When no official accepted the appeal from the Bhangis, the latter cleaned the toilets in the TMC premises.

They then went to the Revenue Department and submitted their appeal to Tahsildar Prashanth Nalavar.

News from Deccan Herald

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sweeper becomes police officer in Jharkhand
Indo Asian News Service, Updated: July 20, 2010 15:17 IST

Ranchi: Through his sheer grit and determination, a young man working as a sweeper in Jharkhand has bagged a job as Deputy Superintendent of Police after clearing the state public service examination.

Roshan Gudia, who works as a sweeper in a primary health centre of Simdega district, cleared the Jharkhand Public Service Commission (JPSC) examination in his fourth attempt.

He is a resident of Karamtand village of Khuti district. His father, Soma Gudia, is a retired army man.

Since his childhood, Roshan wanted to become a police officer. He would study hard and did not let the initial setbacks deter him. He took up a job as sweeper two years ago, but did not give up on his studies, or hope.

Today, Roshan is a happy man. "My dream has been achieved," he said.

His mother, Sunila, is also happy with her son's achievement. Tears rolled down her face upon hearing the news of her son being selected for a police officer's job.

Like Roshan, there are many other poor students in Jharkhand who have qualified as state level administrative officers of Deputy SP rank.

Mukesh Mahuwa, the son of a rickshaw puller, has qualified as a deputy collector. Mukesh, a resident of Bundu block on the outskirts of Ranchi, used to play the drums during the marriage season to earn money. His father, Nimai Mahuwa, is a rickshaw puller.

Similarly, Krishan Kumar, the son of a driver, has been selected as a deputy collector. His father, Bhuneshwar Prajapati, works as a driver in Hazaribagh.

The result of the JPSC examination was announced Sunday night. A total of 175 candidates qualified for different posts.

Read more at: http://www.ndtv.com/article/cities/sweeper-becomes-police-officer-in-jharkhand-38588?cp

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Is the government speaking the truth of number of manual scavengers in the country

Can we believe in these figures ? The governments should do something real to eradicate manual scavenging rather than hiding the figures.


MPs contest figures on manual scavengers

Contesting government figures, several MPs on Monday stressed that the number of manual scavengers still left in the country was much higher than what was furnished by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment — 1.17 lakh.

At a meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to the Ministry, they pointed out that this figure did not square with the much larger number of proposals received by the Ministry of Housing and Poverty Alleviation for conversion of dry latrines, according to sources on the panel. It was therefore imperative, the MPs said, that the Social Justice Ministry immediately conduct a survey to check the figures and vigorously work towards ending what the National Human Rights Commission recently termed “one of the worst violations of human rights.”

Monday's meeting comes in the wake of the Centre appointing an expert committee — to be jointly overseen by the Ministries of Social Justice and Labour — to abolish manual scavenging.

The committee — which has a representative each from the Ministries of Social Justice, Urban Development and Railways, and one from the Planning Commission — has been asked to draft a new law and submit its report by September 30.

At the meeting, Social Justice Minister Mukul Wasnik said that while all States and Union Territories had confirmed the rehabilitation of all eligible and willing beneficiaries under the Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS), his Ministry would continue to work with the States to identify any persons who might still need to be rehabilitated.

Under the SRMS, term loans up to Rs.5 lakh and micro financing up to Rs.25,000 are given for rehabilitation in alternative occupations. Mr. Wasnik said information about each identified beneficiary had been placed on the websites of the apex corporations, the State governments, State channelling agencies and the districts concerned to make it open to public scrutiny.

Simultaneously, action was being initiated to undertake a 100 per cent internal audit of the work done under the SRMS by the State governments, and at least 25 per cent external audit through the State Commissions for Safai Karamcharis/SCs and other independent bodies.

Though the government introduced as far back as in 1993 the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act in 1993 — under which no person can be engaged in manual scavenging and construction of dry latrines is prohibited — the Centre missed three deadlines to abolish manual scavenging: December 2007, March 2009 and March 2010. The biggest defaulters are Meghalaya, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, U.P., Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and even Delhi. The MPs who attended the meeting are Rudra Madhab Ray, Shakti Mohan Malik, Arjun Munda, Thangso Baite and P.L. Punia.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Sanitation staff launch stir for regularization
TNN, Jul 12, 2010, 10.39pm IST


Tags:Municipal Corporation|Balmiki Youth Federation|sanitization

LUDHIANA: Irked over delay in regularization of sanitation employees, members of Balmiki Youth Federation and workers of sanitation committees blocked the traffic at Bharat Nagar Chowk on Monday. They alleged that the state government and Municipal Corporation officials were playing with their lives by not fulfilling their promises.

The regularization of the sanitation employees had been hanging fire for the last two years but despite notifications and preparation of the lists, the authorities had not regularized even a single employee. The authorities even cancelled the lists saying they were not up to the mark. The employees demanded for the regularization of around 3,400 employees immediately. Warning the authorities for regularizing the employees as soon as possible, the staff said otherwise they would launch a stir. The members informed that in every public meeting, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal promised to appoint the employees. "We would continue our protest until we would get our right and regularization takes place," said Pardeep Bohad.

Times of INdia, July 12th, 2010

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Do Constitutional provision mean anything ?

Manual scavenging continues despite law V Raghunathan, 28 February 2010, 08:45 PM IST. Times of India, Delhi

I have frequently maintained that ours is a country that confuses words for action. Consider this. Not only did we allow the practice of "manual scavenging" to flourish for decades after Independence, it was to be as late as 1993 before our parliamentarians would wake up to pass the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Dry Latrine Construction (Prohibition) Act. It was to be another four years before the Act was notified in the Gazette of India.

Three states, namely, Kerala, Nagaland and Pondicherry refused to adopt the Act on the ground that dry latrines, and hence manual scavenging, had already been abolished in their states. And yet, according to the records of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Kerala still has 1,339 dry toilets, Nagaland 1,800 and Pondicherry 476, while the country as a whole still employs some 1.3 million 'manual scavengers' – mostly employed by the Government (read the Defence, Railways and Public Sector organizations), municipalities and private homes! So whatever happened to the prohibition seventeen years after it was enacted? Incidentally, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are yet to adopt the Act – at least they have no pretense that they care.

'Manual scavenging' as we all know, represents the most inhuman of all professions conceivable, which involves either removal of human excreta using brooms, tin plates, baskets or buckets carried on the head or entering sewage pits for cleaning without any protection whatsoever.

Needless to say, virtually all such task is carried out by dalits, employed on subcontract, often on wages as little as Rs 1000 per month, in flagrant violation of minimum wages. And when they are not carrying night soil on their heads, they are left to enter sewage pits, almost completely naked save a minimal loin-cloth, a rope tied around his waist with the loose end in the hands of a municipal official, with his breath-holding capacity his only protection. Body suits and oxygen masks are not for him, and if he asphyxiates to death from time to time, you may (and then again, may not) see a two-centimeter news ITEM tucked away in the local editions of newspapers. National TV networks haven’t been known to pick up their cause yet.

That six decades after Independence and a decade into the twenty-first century, the Government of India should still have 'scavengers' and 'bhangis' in its official lexicon and employ is the smaller tragedy. The bigger tragedies are our acceptance of the fact that it is all right for a section of the society to live a wretched existence of ultimate degradation so that the rest of us could live better; that as a society we should consider our task accomplished with the passing of an Act rather than its implementation; our pseudo argument that the dalits currently manning this degrading task need that employment and the indifference of this scourge of our society by an otherwise more activist Supreme Court and the visual media.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dishonored killing

We talk a lot of unity among different caste. We fight against brahmanism but when the question of our identities comes, we are trapped in to it. Honored killing or killing of shame are nothing but a brahmanical brutality inflicted upon our children. We do not want them to take a decision about their life. It is shameful. there can not be any unity between castes, the only thing that is needed supremacy of individual and annihiliation of caste as envisaged by Ambedkar. The more we respect individual choices for marriages and partnership, caste will become a thing of past. And ofcourse, those who are afraid of it, will always want to utilise it. Caste is a utility certificate for each one of us. It is patriarchical in nature. it is brahmanical in nature.. how beautifully baba Saheb Ambedkar portrayed it ' ascending order of reverence and descending order of contempt..

Time to condemn such brutalities.


Delhi dishonoured again, lovers killed
Rahul Tripathi, TNN, Jul 5, 2010, 12.04am IST

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Tags:Delhi|anju|Honour killing|Ashok Vihar|lovers killed

NEW DELHI: Even as the capital is recovering from the shock of triple murder in an honour killing case, it has been jolted yet again by the ghastly murder of a class IV employee and his live-in partner, who wanted to marry against the wish of their families.

Uttam Kumar (33), a class IV employee at Safdarjung Hospital, met the woman, identified as Anju (28), at the hospital few years ago. "The couple wanted to marry and repeatedly approached their family members but their families were against the alliance as Uttam was from Jaatav community and Anju was a Balmiki,'' said a senior police officer.

Facing resistance, they started staying together in Netaji Nagar in Sarojini Nagar in south Delhi last year. This move evoked strong reaction from their family members, who started threatening them with dire consequences. They were finally murdered in June this year, said police. According to the police, Uttam was killed on June 19 and his body dumped in Daruhera in Haryana. Anju, who was married earlier to one Karamveer (30) but was separated for the past few months, was allegedly killed on June 23 by her first husband after an argument.

The Sarojini Nagar police have arrested six persons, including Anju's brother and her estranged husband, for the double murder.

"Anju's family approached Karamveer, who is from the same caste, and asked him to counsel her. He tried to bring Anju back. But, Anju refused and the couple continued to stay together,'' said a senior police officer.

Police added that Uttam went missing from June 19 and when he did not report for work for a week, his colleagues from Safdarjung Hospital approached his house. "When they did not get a satisfactory reply from the family members, one of the employees approached the police on which a missing report was lodged at Sarojini Nagar police on June 27. When a police team went to question the family members, it found the woman's brother absconding,'' the officer added.

When police questioned family members of Uttam at length, it was revealed that Uttam along with Anju had been murdered and their body disposed by the brothers. All the six arrested will be produced before the court on Monday.

Last month, a couple from Swaroop Nagar Asha Saini and Yogesh planning to marry against the wishes of the family were killed on June 14. Another couple from Ashok Vihar Monica and Kuldeep married for past four years were found dead in on June 21 this year. A day later, Shubha, Monica's cousin, was also murdered in the name of honour and her body was found inside a car at Ashok Vihar. Three persons the brothers were arrested in connection with the case.

Times of India, Delhi, July 5th, 2010

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Friday, July 09, 2010

Balmiki woman elected Sarpanch in Haryana

Dalit woman elected sarpanch in khapland
Bhaskar Mukherjee, TNN, Jul 8, 2010, 05.53am IST

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Tags:dalit|Jat|sarpanch|Rani Devi|Raju Balmiki

HISAR: Caste may have split Mirchpur — where two dalits were burnt alive in a caste violence blamed on Jats about three months back — but hardly 40km away, a Jat-dominated Serhada village has done something unbelievable: it unanimously elected a dalit woman as its sarpanch.

Rani Devi, wife of Raju Balmiki was among 24 candidates for the post, which was reserved for a general category woman.

In a break from the prevailing trend in caste-ridden state, representatives of all castes sat together and decided to elect Rani Devi as the village sarpanch.

"Our decision is a reply to the political leaders with vested interests in the Mirchpur incident. We have set a positive example," said Master Abhay Singh Lathar, a village elder, who chaired the proceedings to elect Rani.

Wife of a poor shepherd, Rani, who is in her early 30s, was surprised when she was informed about the decision taken by the village khap. "I am daughter-in-law of this village, and now I have the responsibility towards each family living here. Though we were a part of their families on all occasions, this would further strengthen our bond," said Rani.

She got 1,384 votes out of 1,702 from this block. There were 24 women candidates left after the withdrawal of nominations.

In a panchayat held two days before the election, under the leadership of Lathar, all the 36 communities presented in the meeting decided unanimously to vote for a dalit woman.

"The government should declare our village as a model village. We all want prosperity for everyone. We have full faith in Rani Devi," said Raghuveer Lathar and Jagbeer Poonia, panchayat members.

Times of India, Delhi, July 8th, 2010

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