Manual Scavenging Quotes

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P. Sainath says, 'What we need to do is not just destroy the caste hierarchy but simultaneously create respect for the work and labour that people do, for what they produce. I have always maintained that untouchability is not just a social evil. It’s more than that. It’s an extremely cruel, vicious but sophisticated form of exploitation by which we keep a large labour force permanently demoralised, humiliated and dependent. So we need to destroy the feudal relations of production completely; we need to accept that if a son or daughter of a potter, weaver or leather worker do not want to be in that field, it’s a perfectly legitimate need of theirs and they cannot under any circumstance be compelled. You need to break down the caste hierarchy and when you bring respect and economic returns for that skill, who knows—many other children in the village might want to do it. Look at the way we’ve destroyed weaving. Several weavers, who for countless years made the famous Kanjeevaram saree, are driving autorickshaws in Kanchi and Chennai, and this is called reskilling. These individuals hold within them cumulatively thousands of years of skill, knowledge and experience. We simply do not respect labour, we don’t give dignity to those who do this beautiful work. However, there are also professions and occupations that you want to see dead. I don’t want to see anybody take up or inherit manual scavenging. It is the greatest assault on human dignity that you can think of in a structured way. And it is perpetrated because we are somehow very comfortable with the idea of using the children of our poor to do the dirty work for us. So there are professions that have to be completely destroyed. And there are professions, occupations and livelihoods that have to be preserved. But not as they were in their old context but recreated in a new one.
Aparna Karthikeyan (Nine Rupees an Hour: Disappearing Livelihoods of Tamil Nadu)