Are Dalit castes intermingling freely? Or a new Manuwad is in practice among the Dalits? Why is Jagjivan Ram ignored and BRA worshipped? Sure, Dr. B.R Ambedkar never advocated a neo-manuwad of the upper castes and lower castes system among the Dalits.
See this extract from the Safai Karmachari Andolan website first: Manual scavenging, an occupation which involves cleaning the dry latrines and carrying human excreta, is considered as one of the lowest, polluted and most degrading occupation. The caste system dictates that those born into a particular Dalit sub-caste should engage in manual scavenging and should remain doing so throughout their lives, prohibiting them to lead a dignified life in the community. Safai Karmchari Andolan was initiated in 1995 by children of those engaged in Manual Scavenging themselves for liberation from this ghastly occupation and dignity. Since then, it has grown progressively to become a national movement spread over 25 states of India, with the national secretariat in New Delhi (emphasis mine).
This is the existing ground reality after more than 66 years of the constitution of India coming into force. Dr. Ambedkar is given credit for this inspiring mother law of India. One of its most admirable features was the abolition of “untouchability”. The practice has been abandoned by the traditional upper castes of India, but has yet to go from the neo-upper castes among the Dalits. The condition should have improved fully by now had the upper castes among the Dalits also embraced them. It is no big problem to rehabilitate less than a million people and stop the inhuman practice by an ordinance forthwith. But the callousness of the political class has simply forgotten them. There is no other instance of such neglect in the history of modern India. There are committees of MPs/MLAs to specifically serve the interests of the Dalits. What have they done to eradicate this heinous practice? Little, that is the resounding answer.
It is singularly unfortunate that these people have been struggling for their “liberation” all these years. Nobody has cared to solve their problems even as there exists no political party in India that does not commit itself to eradicate this practice. We make political speeches on eradication of corruption and elimination of poverty of more than 70% of the population but can’t eradicate this inhuman practice afflicting about a million or even less people. No, but the number of persons entering this disgusting practice has only risen in the last 25 years! Our symbolic gesture to set up a Safai Karamchari Commission and a Finance & Development Corporation for them has benefited only two classes of influential people- those politicians who have become Chairman & Members of the commission, got official vehicles, government bungalows, staff to serve them and enormous powers to enjoy; the other is the bureaucracy as many new jobs got created facilitating promotions for many. Beyond that, the “liberation movement” continues as the victims of this most unhygienic, inhuman and non-remunerative practice fight their own battle. Even the skilled workers get minimum wages under the law in India, excepting the manual scavengers. No government can show the courage to place them in the category of “skilled workers”, and including them in the list of “unskilled workers” would amount to triple jeopardy, immoral and revolting.
It is a matter of shame and pain that these suffering people had to start an andolan (agitation) to get their rights guaranteed in the Constitution of India, written under the Chairmanship of Dr. BR Ambedkar, though it is the primary responsibility of the government. It is going on for the past more than 20 years! It confronts us with horrible contrast: the nation fought for freedom of all the Indians, but the last man in the pyramid has to start the same once again for freedom of his caste fellows viz., the safai karmacharis (euphemism for manual scavengers). It is doubly painful when one witnesses the competition among all shades of political schools to monopolize the legacy of Dr. BR Ambedkar. They are excellent marketers. They sell whosoever can get them bulk of the votes from the caste or community or group. They may not understand the thoughts, ideas or vision of a scholar like Dr. BR Ambedkar, but they can sell his name in as many ways as they wish. They have built him places of worship, complete with the religious rituals paraphernalia including the priest, paste, prasad, incence and other associated items. Ambedkar, not known as a devout Hindu, could not live without religion and chose to enter the portals of Buddhism, without specifying the branch he preferred. I read in it the same thing as in TS Eliot’s two poems- The Waste Land and the Hippopotamus. Both capture the contemporary times and the angst of the poetic sensibilities of an evolved human mind.
Two things are happening currently. 125the birth anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar is going to be celebrated this 14th April. Offices will be closed, establishments shall be asked to declare it a paid holiday under the Negotiable Instruments Act and money will be liberally spent by the central government and the state governments. This money is enough to rehabilitate all the manual scavengers by 14th April 2016. It is not essential that the manual scavengers continue to do the work. It is for people to clean their own mess if they still continue with dry lats or switch to toilets. Government should fully fund this shift from dry to toilets.
It is simply a matter of attitude and decision making. In such matters, orders need to be issued and compliance ensured to end the practice from next day itself. It makes no sense to celebrate the birth anniversary of Dr. BR Ambedkar as long as a single manual scavenger is compelled to stay in the inhuman vocation.
Note: All pictures taken from the internet