Friday, February 5, 2010

Abolish manual scavenging, a practice that decries some: SKA

New Delhi, Feb 5 (UNI) The practice of manual scavenging was banned in India in 1993, but it still continues to downgrade a certain class of society, President of Safai Karamchari Andolan said here today.

''There are 6.76 lakh manual scavengers, popularly known as safai karamcharis, in India, though unofficial figures put the figure at 13 lakh,'' Dr Bezwada Wilson, SKA
president, claimed.

He was speaking during a lecture organised by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) on ''Inhuman Practices of Manual Scavenging: Cleaning up shit'' in the
University's main campus.

Mr Wilson, a Dalit who was elected in alternative '25 people who will never make it to the power list' by Outlook magazine, emphasised on the social basis behind the practice of manual scavenging in the country, the reality of the life of a manual scavenger and the response by SKA.

He remarked that manual scavengers fell at the very lowest category of sanitation workers in the country, after sweepers, sewerage workers and septic tank cleaners.

Delineating the ideological basis of this inhuman practice, Dr Wilson, a post graduate in Political Science elected as Ashoka Senior Fellow in the Year 2009 from India, said, ''The caste system dictates that those born into particular Dalit sub-castes should enagage in manual scavenging, and should remain doing so throughout their lives.''

The lecture was followed by screening of Documentary on ''Lesser Humans''.

Dr Wilson is involved in a movement to eradicate manual scavenging since 1986, which was later formalised as the SKA in 1996. The movement has made a planning call
'Action 2010' for the purpose to eradicate manual scavenging by 31st December, 2010.

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