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An Action in Aid of the downtrodden

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  • Shaji John K
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 14, 2003
      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
      University.



      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
      a living.



      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
      into action".
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