YES, IT CAN, WITH MODERN TOILETS AND MACHINES OR ROBOTS BEING USED TO DO THE WORK OF PEOPLE EMPLOYED AS MANUAL SCAVENGERS,
BY MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT OFFICIALS!
It is a deplorable fact that many personnel who are engaged in cleaning of Lavatories, Manholes and Drainages in Rural Areas, that is, of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes, are still forced to do it in the old, manual, unhygienic and above all, demeaning way, which has reduced them since ages, to the rank of ‘Untouchables’, even in the present era in villages and small towns! Social Reformers like Dr. Bhimrao R. Ambedkar, who belonged to the Dalit community himself and Gandhiji tried a great deal to reform the public attitude towards them with Gandhiji partaking in the work himself, as well as by banning the names ‘Dhed, Bhangi and Mahar’, replacing them by the term ‘Harijan’, and by equipping them with special reservation of seats for them in Colleges and jobs for their uplift from the menial tasks assigned to them by the Upper caste society. Certain changes have also been made to make work less manual and more technical by installing modern toilets like commodes and other non manual means of scavenging. Yet these improvements have brought about changes mostly in cities but hardly any in Rural areas, where caste discrimination is still strong.
This degrading and inhuman practice should be stopped, and those Personnel should instead be trained to operate and guide the Robots or Machines to do the cleaning , in Manholes and Drains, and give them Gumboots, Butcher’s leather or rexin Gloves and Face Masks, or Head Masks shaped like Monkey Caps, preferably Oxygen masks as for sea divers, to prevent them from inhaling toxic fumes in the gutters and becoming unconscious while doing the work of Scavenging, and to remove the stigma attached to their work and themselves! In short, achieve the real ‘Smartness’ of living in the villages as much as in cities. We can adopt some. of the Western Technology for this cause also. This will go a long way towards raising the Social as well as the Health Status of the socially downcast communities, besides protecting them from diseases to which they are liable to fall prey to on account of their Occupation.
Of course, the Appeal to Society to cooperate for the Uplift of the Downtrodden castes, and to the Government and Social Welfare Authorities for creating better opportunities for their Education and Employment, is also necessary.
Likewise, counselling the members of the lower classes on issues like Family Planning and refraining from addictive and harmful habits like Smoking, Drinking, and Unsafe Sex is equally important, for it is often seen that some people of those communities just squander the money and Opportunities given to them and remain where they are because of lack of proper guidance and control!
It is so simple as that, if only the Government and Gram Panchayats care, both for Public Hygiene and for the Sanitation Workers Degraded as Untouchable’, Manual Sweepers/Scavengers!
India has succeeded in achieving the Eradication of Deadly and Disabling, Pandemic Diseases like Small Pox, Polio, Plague, as also of Evil Social Customs like ‘Sati’, and controlling Inhuman practices like the tonsuring of Widows, and Encouraging Education of Girls to make them self reliant and raise their Social Status.
When will We Be Able to Proclaim’Abolition of Untouchability’?