An Action in Aid of the downtrodden
- An Action in Aid of the downtrodden
TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ MONDAY, JULY 14, 2003 01:24:58 AM ]
LUCKMOW: Meet Sunita. With five daughters, an unemployed husband and
an earning of barely Rs 200 a month, Sunita is a human scavenger. She
can barely control her recalcitrant tears as she tells you her tale.
And she's not alone.
There's Mangu, Suresh, Phulkali, Rupa, Rukmani and several others
like her who detailed the inhuman treatment and life that they have
been subjected to, at the 'Sir par maila dhone wale samudaya ki sidhi
baat' organised by Action Aid on July 13.
These people had come from places like Lakhimpur, Hapur, Fatehpur,
Ghazipur, Orai and Lucknow under the auspices of a Garima Abhiyaan,
the campaign for life with dignity to manual scavengers which has
been simultaneously launched in these areas as a part of a nationwide
campaign spanning six states.
With the help of a couple of street plays and direct conversation
with the scavengers, the event proposed to bring to the fore the
plight of these people before a panel comprising Sriram Arun,
chairman, UP SC/ST Commission, Giriraj Shankar, member, National
Commission of Safai Karamchari, Kamal Jayant, senior journalist,
Akashvani and Prof Balraj Chauhan, former vice -chancellor, Lucknow
Even 55 years after independence, these people continue to live on
the fringes of society, facing evils like un-touchability,
illiteracy, unemployment, alcoholism, corporal chastisement and a
complete violation of human rights. After lifting human excreta with
bare hands and cleaning flush toilets, all they earn is a bare Rs 10
a unit per month.
What came forth as the primary dilemma of these people was lack of
options in the wake of their status as scavengers and a further lack
of knowledge of various government schemes existing for their aid.
Another problem that comes to light is that of alternative employment
for these men and women in the event of a complete removal of dry
toilets, something which had to be done a long time ago.
While admitting that the condition of these people was a "national
shame", all the panelists stressed the need for education of these
people in order to improve their lot. While Chauhan informed them of
provisions like free education, Sriram Arun suggested alternative
means of employment like rickshaw pulling and puncture repair to earn
Girija Shankar, while informing them of the work done in the area
including things like fathoming reasons for the failure of various
schemes, expressed the hope that "state governments will be activated