Skip to main content

Bezwada Wilson, Magsaysay awardee, had said, "who wants award from this govt?", when chased for Padma

By Our Representative
Bezwada Wilson, national convenor of the Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), who has won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for 2016 for “asserting the inalienable right to a life of human dignity” was being “chased” by the Narendra Modi government for the Padma award, one of India's highest awards.
However, Wilson showed “no interest” in the matter.
A well-known scribe, Vidya Subramaniam, says in a Facebook post, “Top official at the social Justice ministry told me they had been chasing him for a Padma award a few months back, and he showed no interest. When they persisted, he told them he is hard pressed for time and couldn't be bothered filling up forms.”
When th scribe crossed checked with Wilson, he told her: "That's true, but who wants an award from this government?"
Others who have been chosen for the Magsaysay award, also called Asian Nobel prize, are South Indian classical musician TM Krishna, Philippine ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Indonesian charity organisation Dompet Dhuafa, Laos’ free ambulance service Vientiane Rescue and Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers.
In its citation for award, Magsaysay recalls Wilson and SKA's fight against manual scavenging, calling it a “blight on humanity in India”, insisting, thanks to lobbying by him and SKA, in 2013 a new law that includes rehabilitation support for scavengers was passed in Parliament..
Pointing out that “SKA has grown into a network of 7,000 members in 500 districts across the country. Of the estimated 600,000 scavengers in India, SKA has liberated around 300,000”, the citation says, it has been vigorously involved in raising awareness about scavenging, the caste system, and the 1993 Prohibition Act, training local leaders and volunteers for the movement.
Giving examples of SKA's campaign, the citation says, “In 2004-2005, it undertook a mass latrine demolition drive across Andhra Pradesh; exposed the occupational violence faced by female scavengers; and met with officials to demand the demolition of dry latrines and the provision of alternative occupations for scavengers.”
Then, it says, “In 2010, SKA led an India-wide march for the total eradication of scavenging, and again in 2015 undertook a 125-day bus journey across 30 states to mobilize the public against manual scavenging.”
Wilson launched these campaigns in a country riddled with “structural inequality”, in which the Dalits' most exploited section, manual scavengers, work for “removing by hand human excrement from dry latrines and carrying on the head the baskets of excrement to designated disposal sites.”
“A hereditary occupation, manual scavenging involves 180,000 dalit households cleaning the 790,000 public and private dry latrines across India; 98 percent of scavengers are meagerly paid women and girls”, it citation says.
Wilson was born in the Kolar Gold Fields township in Karnataka state where his family had been engaged in manual scavenging for generations. However, Wilson was spared the labour to be the first in his family to pursue a higher education.
Treated as an outcast in school and acutely aware of his family’s lot, Bezwada was filled with great anger; but he would later channel this anger to a crusade to eradicate manual scavenging. Beginning by “changing the mindsets of his family and relatives” – that being a Dalit is not their fate but a status imposed by how society has been organized – in 1986 made his first public intervention by sending a complaint about dry latrines to the authorities of their town.
When he was ignored, he sent the complaint to the Prime Minister, threatening legal action. As a result, the town’s dry latrines were converted into water-seal latrines and the scavengers transferred to non-scavenging jobs. This emboldened him move to other states, and working with Dalit activists, launch SKA in 1993.
Its first major policy intervention was, when it initiated a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court, naming all states, union territories, and the government departments of railways, defence, judiciary and education as violators of the 1993 Prohibition Act banning dry latrines and the employment of manual scavengers.

Comments

TRENDING

Nobel laureates join international figures, seek release of Bhima Koregaon accused activists

Nobel laureates Olga Tokarczuk,  Wole Soyinka Counterview Desk  As many as 57 top international personalities, including Nobel laureates, academics, human rights defenders, lawyers cultural personalities, and members of Parliament of European countries, have urged the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India to ensure immediate release of human rights defenders in India “into safe conditions”.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

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".

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Russia, China to call the shots in Middle East, as Muslim nations turn into house of cards

By Haider Abbas* Only a naive would buy that the ‘situation of ceasefire’ between the State of Israel and Hamas would continue, as if the foiled attempt to demolish Al Aqsa this time, is not be repeated, if not in any near future then in sometime to come. Israel already has spurned the ‘ceasefire’ by storming Al Aqsa after the Friday prayers on May 21.

Collapse of healthcare system? Why 90% of Covid patients treated at home survived

By Bobby Ramakant, Sandeep Pandey* Well known Hindustani classical singer Padma Vibhu shan Channulal Mishra, chosen as one of the proposers of Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha elections, lost his wife and elder daughter to Covid in private hospitals in Varanasi. Younger daughter has accused Medwin Hospital of charging Rs 1.5 lakh for treatement of her sister and not being able to explain the cause of death. Pandit Channulal Mishra has asked for a probe into his daughter’s death from the Chief Minister. The family has also asked for the CCTV footage of the ward where deceased daughter was admitted for a week.

Modi-led regime 'contributed' 60% to rise of global poverty, yet Hindutva is intact

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* In recent years, the Hindutva politics has caused long term damage to India and Indians. The so called 56-inch macho PM, the propaganda master manufactures and survives all political crisis including the current mismanagement of the Coronavirus pandemic in India. In spite of deaths and destitutions, the social, cultural, economic and religious base of Hindutva is intact.

Rooted in mistrust? Covid-19’s march into rural India is a very different ball game

By Sudhir Katiyar* As the Covid-19 virus penetrates rural India, the rural communities are responding very differently from their urban counterparts who rushed to the hospitals. The rural communities are avoiding the public health facilities and any mention of the disease. The note argues that this supposedly irrational response is based on a deep-seated mistrust of the state by the rural communities. It can not be resolved with routine Information, Education and Communication (IEC) measures suggested in the Government of India SOP for tackling Covid-19 in rural areas.

Hunger, lack of food security behind India's 'slip' in UN's sustainable development rank

By Dr Gian Singh*  According to a report released by the United Nations on June 6, 2021, India's ranking of achieving Sustainable Development based on the 17 Social Development Goals (SDGs) set by the 193 countries in the 2003 agenda, which was 115th last year, has slipped to 117th position this year. India ranks not only the lowest among the BRICS countries -- Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China, and South Africa but also below the four South Asian countries -- Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Courageous, in-depth attempt to confirm common spiritual values of Christ, Buddha

By RB Sreekumar, IPS*  All religions, both theistic and atheistic designed conceptual and practical architecture, for holistic and comprehensive elevation and enlightenment of humanity. PK Vijayan, in his novel “Nirvana of Jesus Christ” (Notion Press, 2020) through creative imagination portrayed personality evolution of the two progenitors of God-centric and sagaciously logical major religions – Jesus Christ of Christianity and Gautama Buddha of Buddhism.

Why hasn't Govt of India responded to US critique of freedom of religion under Modi?

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* About two weeks ago, on May 12, 2021, the US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken released in Washington the ‘2020 International Religious Freedom Report.’ This official annual report of the US Government details the status of religious freedom in nearly 200 foreign countries and territories and describes US actions to support religious freedom worldwide. Mandated by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, this report highlights the fact that ‘religious freedom is both a core American value and a universal human right’.