Friday December 15, 2017
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Still not human enough? How the Indian govt is failing its fight against manual scavenging

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By Harshmeet Singh

When they said no job is too small or derogatory to perform, they certainly left out the practice of manual scavenging. Almost exclusively performed by people belonging to the Dalit community, scavenging is the practice of cleaning human excreta from dry latrines (without flush system) manually.

Every day, the manual scavengers are required to reach out to all the dry latrines in their area, use their bare hands to pick up the human excreta, fill it in a broad hand held bane basket, place it on their head and take it to the a nearby bin to dispose it off. If you are searching for an example of lower caste abuse in this ‘modern Indian society’, there can’t be a better example than manual scavenging.

Biggest Offender?

One of the biggest employers of manual scavengers in India is our very own Indian Railways. The outdated toilet systems in our trains drop all the human excreta on to the tracks which are later cleaned by the scavengers employed by the Railways. Railways operate more than 172,000 dry toilets as a part of over 43,000 passenger coaches. Still in denial about violating the law against manual scavenging, Indian Railways has been pulled up by the courts multiple times.

The ‘untouchables’

The practice of manual scavenging is passed on as a ‘hereditary’ profession in a number of Indian villages. The task is mostly performed by females since men do not want to get their hands ‘dirty’. The scavengers are considered as ‘untouchables’ in the village, with people from ‘higher caste’ keeping a safe distance from them. They are usually asked to enter the home from the rear gate, collect the human excreta and leave without touching a thing or speaking a word.

Rachna, who cleans more than 25 dry toilets a day in the Mainpuri district of Uttar Pradesh says, “Most of them do not pay me anything. They just keep their leftover food outside their home for me to pick up. On some days, even that food gets eaten by the stray dogs. When I ask for money, they threaten me that they will boycott me from the village or restrict my buffaloes from grazing on their land. What can I do? I do not like touching dirty things but I have no option but to go their homes every day.”

A number of villages in different parts of the country have earmarked people from certain castes to carry out the work of manual scavenging. Prabha Devi, from Babatpur area, near Varanasi in UP, cries when she says “I belong to the Musahar community. Cleaning dry latrines is our job. Even if I do not want to do this, I can’t leave it. Whenever any toilet in the village needs cleaning, people call me up to do it. My body stinks badly every day. I am even scared to touch the idols of God with my hands. I don’t remember the last time when I prayed.”

According to the 2011 census, over 750,000 families in India are involved in manual scavenging. Most estimates peg the number of manual scavengers in India at over 1.3 million. This number is close to the entire population of cities such as Nashik, Agra, Faridabad and Meerut.

What does the Law say?

The Supreme Court, in March 2014, called manual scavenging “a practice that violates international human rights law”. The SC further directed the government to come up with a permanent solution and take measures for rehabilitation of the people involved in this menial practice. In 2011, the Delhi High Court directed the Indian Railways to expedite the process of setting up bio-toilets in railway coaches to eliminate manual scavenging. Unsurprisingly, the High Court’s direction fell to deaf ears.

In the Union budget of 2011-12, the Government allotted a sum of Rs 100 crore in order to execute ‘Self Employment Scheme of Liberation and Rehabilitation of Scavengers’. After much applause, the grant was reduced to Rs 35 crore. The same thing happened in 2012-13 when the budget grant of Rs 98 crore was cut down to Rs 20 crore.

In September 2013, the Parliament passed ‘The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013’. Though all the Government departments were soon issued the notifications regarding the same, it is not difficult to conclude that this legislation had no impact on the condition of manual scavengers in the country.

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Jadav Molai Peyang: Forest Man of India

Jadav Molai Peyang, 'Forest Man of India' single-handedly plants 1360 acre of forest on a barren sandbar.

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Indian Forest Man
Jadav Peyang, Forest Man of India. Wikimedia Commons.

There are many international organizations that have been working to save our planet from many harms of deforestation but there is one Indian man who, single-handedly, gave rise to the forest in 1360 acre land and converted it into the man-made forest in India and that man is Jadav Molai Peyang.
Jadav Peyang’s story was first discovered by journalist Jitu Kalita when he was stalking the vultures on the other end of Arun Sapori, an over 1,000-hectare riverine island on the Brahmaputra when he saw the forested area and found Peyang’s story there.
The forest man has planted over 1500-saplings since 1980 which has grown into the famous, Molai Kathoni, the forest famously named after his maker. Peyang had started this initiative as a teenager who started planting bamboo in the woodland after he had witnessed deaths of several snakes at the shore when water had resided from the area after a flood. Following that horrifying scenario, he sought the advice from the village elders who asked him to grow a forest as only the forest can save the lives of birds and animals. Since then, Peyang’s Molai Forest has developed its own ecosystem as deer, rabbits, rhinoceros, Bengal tigers, birds, insects have inhabited the forest which consists of trees such as Bamboo, valcol, Arjun, Pride of India, silk trees, cotton trees, to name a few. But it was a herd of 100 elephants that brought the attention of Assam’s forest department on Peyang in 2008. The elephants pay a yearly visit to his forest and give birth to their calves in the comfort there.
But the journey of creating a barren sandbar in the middle of the river Brahmaputra of Assam into the thriving forest that it is today wasn’t easy.
In the initial stages, he found planting trees extremely difficult and time-consuming but now as he gets the seeds from the trees, the forest seems to live on itself.
The forest man was the first part of the 5-year project launched by the Assam Forestry Division in Aruna Chapori in 1980 with an aim to reforest two hundred hectares of land. Peyang enrolled for the job and started planting trees for the project though, the project was finished in five years, Peyang had stayed and spread his own project bigger than Central Park, NYC (842.6 acres). Since his first project, he has been invited to several environmental conferences, conferred many honors among which is Padam Shri, the highest civilian award and ‘Forest Man of India’ by JNU along with the recent honor bestowed on Jitu Kalita and Jadav Peyang by Taiwan Government for their efforts.
The forest man’s story is full of inspiration and compassion as he keeps providing shelter to various insects and animals while his family, which consists of two sons, a daughter, and his wife subsides on the income provided by their livestock, there is a lot to learn from him. He had braved several threats and all he has to say to them, ‘Kill me first, before you kill my forest,’ but his ideas for the world remains unknown among the several honors.

Samridhi Nain. Samridhi is a student of Philosophy (Hons.) from University of Delhi.

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5 Beautiful Indian Sportswomen you Want to Know About

These eight women with their talent and achievements have set a benchmark for the meaning of true beauty.

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Akanksha Singh. Instagram.
  • Indian sports personalities like Saina Nehwal and Smriti Mandhana have shown us the true meaning of being bold and beautiful.
  • There achievements have been an inspiration for women to rise.

Beauty and style have always corresponded with looks, but these Indian sportswomen have shunned such critics. With their style and achievements, they have told us that beauty is about the way you embody confidence and lead in life. Their accomplishments have inspired many Indian women to be like her.

1. Smriti Mandhana:

She is one the beautiful indian sportswomen

Smriti Mandhana is a 21-year-old Indian cricketer who currently plays for the Indian women’s cricket team. She made her Test debut in against England August 2014 and helped her team in winning the match by scoring 22 and 51 runs in her first and second innings, respectively. The sports personality came into the limelight after she scored a 90 against England in the group matches in World Cup 2017.

2. Babita Phogat

She is one the beautiful indian sportswomen

Babita Kumari Phogat, the younger sister of Geeta Phogat, is a 27-year-old Indian female wrestler and a gold medal recipient in the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The Haryana girl has won a silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in Delhi, and a bronze medal at the 2012 World Wrestling Championships.

y to Academy Awards next year

3. Deepika Pallikal

Deepika Pallikal is an Indian squash player, and the first one to break into the top 10 WSA rankings. She was honored with Arjuna Award in 2012 and Padma Shri in 2014. Her highest ranking has been World no. 10. Her current ranking is World no. 19. Apart from all her achievements, She is one the beautiful indian sportswomen.

 

4. Saina Nehwal

Indian
Saina Nehwal

Saina Nehwal is an Indian badminton singles player, who is currently the World No. 12. She became the World no. 1 in 2015. Nehwal has won over twenty-one international titles. She after, Prakash Padukone became the only Indian player to achieve this ranking. Nehwal has represented India three times in the Olympics and won a bronze medal in her second appearance.

5. Akanksha Singh

Indian
Akanksha Singh.                                                                                                                                            Instagram.

Akanksha Singh is a 28-year-old Indian Basketball player and the current captain of the country’s Women’s National Basketball Team. She has been a member of the national women team since 2004 to till date. She has been accoladed with the best player in many national and state championships. During her captaincy at Delhi University, she won a gold medal in All India University basketball championship at Nallor.

 

by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. 


 

‘Newton’ Starring Rajkummar Rao Is India’s official entry to Academy Awards next year

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Bollywood Megastars Hema Malini and Amitabh Bachchan Promote New Short-film ‘Vaadi-e-Kashmir’

Kashmir's mountains, greenery and the beautiful shikaras; Vaadi-e-Kashmir aims to touch the heart of the Kashmiri brothers and sisters

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Vaadi-e-Kashmir aims to make our brothers and sisters in Kashmir feel that the rest of the country stands with them. YouTube

Kashmir, September 7, 2017 : Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan and veteran actress-politician Hema Malini have featured in “Vaadi-e-Kashmir”, a short film aimed at spreading the message of oneness.

“As an Indian, this film is my attempt to reach out to Kashmir and touch the hearts of our brothers and sisters in the valley,” Hema, who has also curated the film, said in a statement.

Vaadi-e-Kashmir
Veteran actress-politician Hema Malini has featured in “Vaadi-e-Kashmir”, a short film aimed at spreading the message of oneness. IANS
‘Vaadi-e-Kashmir’ will make you fall in love with the people of Kashmir 

“Vaadi-e-Kashmir”, which captures the valley’s beauty and people, is supported by KENT RO Systems Ltd, and has music and lyrics by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Gulzar. It is directed by filmmaker Pradeep Sarkar and conceptualised by Praveen Kenneth, Chairman – Law & Kenneth Saatchi & Saatchi.

Talking about his experience of shooting the film over two weeks in Kashmir, Sarkar said in statement: “Falling in love at the age of 62 years is possible… It happened to me when I went and met Kashmir. Though it was my first trip to Kashmir, it seemed like I knew the place.”

“The warm and friendly people just make you feel at home instantly. In this film, I tried to capture her beauty… but I want to go back to capture her beauty unawares — and also to know her a little better. Believe it, we all need to know her a little better.”

#DilSeKashmir : Watch ‘Vaadi-e-Kashmir Trailer 

Amitabh gives a key message at the start of the movie, which showcases Kashmir’s mountains, greenery and shikaras.

The vision of the six minutes long film is to make our brothers and sisters in Kashmir feel that the rest of the country stands with them and also open many more doors to bring us closer to one another, said Mahesh Gupta, Chairman – KENT RO.

“Vaadi-e-Kashmir” also calls viewers to log on to www.dilsekashmir.com, a platform for the people across the nation to send a message of love to the people of Kashmir. (IANS)