Tue, Sep 04, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Course helps India’s scavengers find new jobs

The Guardian, NEW DELHI

India’s Socio Economic Caste Census of 2011 found more than 180,000 families in rural areas were engaged in manual scavenging. Activists say that if you add urban areas, the real figure is more than one million.

Mahesh’s team found it hard to identify manual scavengers in Shahdara as many are too ashamed to admit their occupation, but they finally managed to persuade 28 people to enroll for the part-time course.

“They heard the word ‘cleaning’ and thought we were going to offer them the same filthy work,” said Rajesh Singh, the project manager. “It was only when we explained it would be a clean and respectable job, with a smart uniform and a decent regular salary, that they became more positive.”

Their suspicions also arose from the fact of having internalized discrimination to such an extent that they feel worthless and cannot believe that anyone could take an interest in their wellbeing without an ulterior movie.

Most are Dalits (considered the lowest caste in India), which adds yet another layer of low self-worth.

News of the training is spreading. The Delhi government has promised to help expand the training to more manual scavengers. The target for the pilot project is to reach 50 people.

Vinay Stephen of the Sadik Masih Medical Social Servant Society said he is getting calls from officials in other states who are interested in setting up similar projects.

“If this is picked up all over the country, I am hoping we will see the death of this inhuman work in my lifetime,” he said.

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