September 7, 2013

By Ram, A Manual Scavenger

Today, my employer didn’t let me in,

I, confused, stood there thinking,

What is he talking about?

I am not even worthy of cleaning his waste anymore?


Baffled, I took the road to home, 

Finding all my friends on a similar musing as I.

That is when a young man,

Of about twenty or five,

Came to our humble abodes,

Holding papers and paraphernalia  with a full smile.

He proclaimed,

With a might voice,

“You don’t need to clean no more,

the sewars, the toilets and everything therein.”

Still shocked and confused, 

I asked him how that could be,

And then I got to know,

That the men sitting in Delhi,

Had finally, after sixty years of deliberation,

Come to realise our situation.


Conflicted, I realised how bittersweet this victory was.

With no work or cause,

I wandered about to and fro,

Wondering what I will have to undergo.


Now that I ponder about it more, 

A job was better than none.

A meagre earning was better than none.

Conflicted, I realised how bittersweet this victory was.


While the government deemed manual scavenging illegal as of 6th September 2013, lakhs of these workers were only partially “freed” from their discriminatory work. Most of them undertook these activities as a last resort measure and had no skills or education to pursue any other job.

This forces us to examine the short-sightedness of the executive’s orders. All-in-all, the government raised lakhs of people out of poverty and just dumped them into a different kind of poverty.

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