Skip to main content

Human Rights Watch to Modi: Work to rehabilitate manual scavengers, show willingness to support community

Counterview Desk
Welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent statement that building toilets before building temples as suggesting commitment to develop modern sanitation system, the Human Rights Watch in its new report has insisted the he should simultaneously try to demonstrate “willingness to support communities seeking to leave manual scavenging, including by intervening when communities seeking to do so face discrimination and violence”.
Pointing towards how rehabilitation efforts for manual scavengers have failed, the report states, “In 2007, the central government launched the Self-Employment and Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers Scheme (SRMS) and budgeted Rs. 7,356 million (US$186 million).” Failure to implement the scheme can be gauged from the fact that of “more than 100 Human Rights Watch interviews with members of the manual scavenging community, only three reported applying for a loan under SRMS.”
The study, “Cleaning Human Waste: Manual Scavenging, Caste, and Discrimination in India”, insists, “Government intervention on behalf of manual scavenging communities is not only critical to addressing their longstanding social and economic exclusion, but will also provide impetus to households and local officials who rely upon manual scavenging rather than implementing existing government programmes to modernize sanitation.”
The report notes high-level efforts to end the practice in various ways. “In March 2014, in an effort to resolve this, the Supreme Court of India estimated that there are 9.6 million dry latrines that are still being cleaned manually by people belonging to the Scheduled Castes.” It quotes Social Justice and Empowerment minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot telling Parliament in August 2014: “The practice of manual scavenging, arising from the continuing existence of insanitary latrines, still persists in various parts of the country.”
However, the report, based on spot interviews with manual scavengers in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh, regrets, “Neither the Supreme Court estimate, nor Gehlot’s statement take into account manual cleaning of open defecation from roads and other areas, removing excrement flushed into uncovered drains by private households in rural, semi-urban, and underdeveloped urban areas, or manual cleaning of private and government septic tanks.”
Suggesting how indifferent governments have been towards manual scavenging, the report states now nearly all of the affidavits to the Supreme Court have denied the existence of manual scavenging. “While the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had previously reported that Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra had the highest number of manual scavengers in India, the 2006 affidavit submitted by the Madhya Pradesh government claimed that all remaining dry toilets in the state had been converted to sanitary latrines, and rehabilitation of all remaining manual scavengers would be completed by 2007.”
“Similarly”, said the report, “the Maharashtra and Gujarat governments claimed that all dry latrines in their states had been converted into flush latrines or abandoned, and all manual scavengers had been rehabilitated. While Rajasthan did not categorically deny that manual scavenging exists within the state, district-level reporting did not acknowledge the practice.”
“Not only are laws abolishing manual scavenging routinely ignored in practice, people who try to leave can suffer retribution, including community threats of physical violence and displacement”, the report states how the new 2013 law on rehabilitation is “left to be implemented under existing central and state government schemes — the same set of programs that, to date, have not succeeded in ending manual scavenging.” And, “one important reason for past failures to end manual scavenging is that relevant government officials have not been held accountable.”
The 2013 law “entitles at least one adult member of each eligible family to obtain a concessional loan to take up an alternative occupation on a sustainable basis”, the report states, adding, “Previous efforts to provide loans have not been properly implemented.

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.