[Answered]Despite the law in place to prevent manual scavenging, it still persists in India. Discuss various reasons for it.

Demand of the question

Introduction. Contextual introduction.

Body. Discuss various Reasons for manual scavenging in India.

Conclusion. Way forward.

Manual scavenging has been officially prohibited by the Anti-Manual Scavenging Act in 1993. Unfortunately, manual scavenging still persists in India. The 2011 Census of India found 7.9 lakh cases of manual scavenging across India. According to a 2016 report of Rajya Sabha, 22,327 lose their lives every year due to manual scavenging. It not only violates fundamental rights to live with dignity, but also poses a great threat to the life of the individual.

Reasons for manual scavenging in India:

  1. Presence of insanitary toilets: Majority of toilets used in India especially in rural areas are insanitary types of toilets that require cleaning by hand. There are approximately 26 million insanitary toilets in India. Moreover, in rural areas, there are no strategies put forward to convert dry toilets.
  2. Social norms:Many communities still regard the inclusion of a sanitary toilet as ritual and physical pollution of the house.
  3. Lack of incomplete rehabilitation: Most states with scavenging problem lack means of fully rehabilitating the sanitation workers. Also, lack of schemes for livelihood of manual scavengers contribute to its existence.
  4. Lack of liberation strategies: There are no proper strategies put forward to liberate manual scavengers psychologically. This pushes those in the practice to get even deeper and deeper into the practice of manual scavenging.
  5. Unemployment: Unemployment rate is high in India. India’s unemployment rate is 7.7% according to data released by Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). Availability of cheap labour promotes manual labour as a job in India.
  6. Law implementation:First anti-manual scavenging Act was passed in 1993. In 2013, Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act was passed. These provisions are not implemented effectively. Only when fatal cases come to light, laws are referred to and mostly settled with negotiated compensation with no action on the culprit.
  7. Caste based division of labour: Manual scavengers are usually from caste groups customarily relegated to the bottom of the caste hierarchy and confined to livelihood tasks viewed as deplorable or deemed too menial by higher caste groups.

Way forward:

  1. Involving all stakeholders:In order to tackle the problem, it would be necessary to involve all the major skate holders involved. The inclusion of the community around the areas that are most affected into the program is important.
  2. Creating Awareness: It is important to educate the community on the devastating effects caused by dry toilets. Government officials should inform on the legal implications that are related to engaging in scavenging and having dry toilets.
  3. Investing in human waste management: The government should invest in human waste management infrastructure. Also, the government should provide the sanitation workers with quality protective gears.
  4. Fund Management: The funds that are released by the Total Sanitation Campaign should be put in good use. In the past, the funds were allocated on time but were not utilized. Such funds should be reallocated. The officials managing the fund should then strategize on how the funds will be given to the community.
  5. Rehabilitation and Reintegration: Creation of more employment is one of the most important rehabilitation processes. The jobs created would act as a means to assimilate manual scavengers into the community.
  6. Enforcement of law:The government should enforce the law strictly that prohibits scavenging. Governmental institutions are reluctant to act and go to great lengths in denying the existence of manual scavengers. People subjecting others into such inhuman activities should be arrested.
  7. Education: Children whose families are involved in scavenging experience a lot of social discrimination that affect their education. Implementation of schemes that would help these children finish their studies would be an effective strategy in ending manual scavenging.

In order to tackle the problem initiatives such as Namma toilets to end open defecation are important. Manual scavenging is regarded as inhuman and a violation of the law. This practice is prevalent and needs collaborative efforts of government, civil society and every individual to end it.

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