Will Swachh Bharat Abhiyan be a success?

(The Hindu, Editorial)

Context

To achieve the mission of a clean India , there is a need to break the link between caste and occupation.

Link between caste and occupation : Manual scavenging

  • In India, there is an inexorable link between occupation and caste; the occupation of manual scavenging is linked with caste.
  • We have to break the link between caste and occupation before we set out to achieve Swachh Bharat.
  • We have made certain communities from particular castes clean the country.
  • Without breaking the chain, those who make Bharat swachh will never be a part of the campaign.
  • We need to come out openly and say that caste is the root cause of the problem we wishe to annihilate.
  • Constitution has declared the abolition of untouchability in Article 17, it is still practised by perpetuating occupations such as scavenging.
  • In the Indian context, manual scavenging is a misery, drudgery, so one cannot worship it.
  • One has to begin by recasting society and its target, reconstructing society first by breaking the links between occupation castes.

What are the challenges?

  • People are not using toilets because they neither have access nor the capacity to use one. We cannot organise campaigns to shame them.
  • If the priority is poor, let them choose what they want. The Constitution says the state cannot interfere in people’s lives.
  • But by appointing whistle-blowers who shame those who do not use toilets, the state is terrorising people.
  • Then, let us come to the toilets being constructed. Each toilet requires a septic tank. Instead of modernising the sewer lines and septic tanks and investing money and energy on smart techniques of sanitation, we are adding more problems to the existing problem.
  • People who have given up their lives in keeping Bharat clean, we have not spoken about their Right to Life.
  • The sewers are being cleaned by those very people shamed in the campaign.
  • Every month, there is news about people dying in manholes after being ordered to clean them. This needs to be addressed.
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