New Delhi: 78-year-old megastar Amitabh Bachchan today took to social media once again to talk about the plight of sanitation workers. Mr Bachchan termed manual scavenging as an “unconstitutional and illegal act” and said that he has pledged to join any campaign that works for the benefit of such workers. Big B who is one of the most active celebrities on Twitter took to the platform to share his thoughts on the act of manual scavenging, he said,
“Events of the day move you beyond words .. tonight is one such day .. manual scavenging is an unconstitutional and illegal act. Yet it exists and that work, suffer in human existence…Will join any campaign that works for their benefit, have pledged.”
T 3689 – .. events of the day move you beyond words .. tonight is one such day .. manual scavenging is an unconstitutional and illegal act .. yet .. it exists and they that work, suffer inhuman existence ..
Will join any campaign that works for their benefit .. have pledged !
— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) October 13, 2020
Along with a tweet, Mr Bachchan also shared his thoughts on manual scavenging on his official blog post. He said,
There are times when the events of the day seem to last longer than what they were meant to be… the strength and the agony of them that live and serve in inhuman conditions and environs.. who get the discrimination of society, who labour in conditions that are humiliating yet for the presence and existence, they suffer?
In his blog, he also said that having a roof and feeding the family is sanitation workers prime objective. He added,
I am unable to contend with this and it shall end here. With the hope and prayer that the end for them that live in extraneous circumstances is of a brighter and existent life as humans..
This is not the first time Mr Bachchan has been vocal about manual scavenging. Previously, during Banega Swasth India campaign telethons, Mr Bachchan has spoken about the issue at length. In the recently held 12-hour #SwasthyaMantra telethon on October 2, Mr Bachchan said that manual scavenging was put to an end on papers back in 2013 but on ground, the situation has not changed much. Sharing a personal experience, Mr Bachchan added,
During the last NDTV-Dettol Banega Swasth India telethon, we had invited some of the guests on the show and I asked them if there is some kind of machinery available which can do the work of manual scavengers instead of person going inside the drain and I was told yes there are manufacturers in the market that make such type of machinery. I contacted one of the manufacturers from Aurangabad and purchased 50 such machines as a part of my contribution to end this inhuman thing. 25 of the manual scavengers, I specially called them at my home to hand over these machines and told these manual scavengers that they should use these machines for their own safety and not sell it. Till now, I haven’t heard from these manual scavengers nor I know anything about these machines. There are lot which is being done by people for manual scavengers but the reality on-ground is just not changing. We still are reading in papers about the deaths of manual scavengers every now and then. So, what is really happening on the ground?
Individuals can make a little change but through policy intervention, we can expect some bigger changes, when it comes to manual scavenging. We need companies coming together to work on the issue of manual scavengers, we also need the government to come up with a separate policy for manual scavenging in India and ensuring it is not practised in any section of our societies.
Mr Wilson further said that this is also an issue of caste and patriarchy, as there are women in various states who go and carry human waste in their bare hands.
In 2018, Banega Swasth India campaign Cleanathon, Mr Bachchan also said that we need a dignified name for manual scavengers and added,
We need to design a word to describe them, without sounding menial. It’s like we no longer say physically handicapped, we call them ‘differently abled’, in Hindi they were addressed as ‘viklaang’, we now have a more dignified name for them ‘divyaang’. I would wish for a dignified name for manual scavengers as well.
Mr Bachchan also asked for suggestions from the public in his blog post previously. He had said, “I shall welcome any suggestions for them, which portray dignity and respectability.”
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.
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