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We Need A Dignified Name For Manual Scavengers, Says Amitabh Bachchan

Campaign ambassador Amitabh Bachchan blogs about the NDTV-Dettol Banega Swachh India 12-hour Cleanathon and raises the issue of Manual Scavenging in India

We Need A Dignified Name For Manual Scavengers, Says Amitabh Bachchan

New Delhi: ‘We need a sensitive, a poetic word for Manual Scavengers, something like ‘divyaang’. A word that gives the dignity of these people,’ said Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan during 12-Hour NDTV-Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign in a bid to spread awareness about this inhuman practice that persists despite being against the law and the need to restore dignity and rehabilitate the people still engaged in this menial job.
Mr Bachchan then took to his blog asking for suggestions to describe those engaged in this job. The blog published on October 4, took the discussion that started during the Banega Swachh India Cleanathon further, as Mr Bachchan wrote,

One of the issues that had come up recently was disturbing..the Manual scavengers that was talked of during the NDTV Cleanathon@5. Last night the issue of the ‘manual scavenger’ was most disheartening and hurtful to hear. They are given the most unbearable workstations of cleaning up the sewers of the city, sending them down the drains containing the sewage and the filth of the city without as much as a basic equipment to execute their job. They face disease, dangerous gases and have perished in numbers..not just that, their living conditions do not give them the dignity of their labour, nor are they accepted in society as one of us; caste distinctions, alienation and health issues, not getting opportunity to work and jobs, associating with them as a society.. are all issues that these poor men had to go through.

Also Read: Ragpickers Are The Real Hero Of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan: Amitabh Bachchan

He further wrote about his decision to contribute 50 machines during the Cleanathon to help the sanitation workers’ job and also not require them to physically step into the sewers.

On finding out that there were machines available to clean-up sewers, it was of immense wonder why the machine were not being used..So on finding out the costs of each machine, knowing where personnel could be trained to teach them how to use them and to prevent the workers from manually going down sewers was the debate, I made a contribution of 50 such machines to be bought and put to use immediately so we can save lives and save the indignity of these workers.

The actor also asked people to help him with the name suggestions for Manual Scavengers, he said,

I am also in the process of trying to design a word to describe them, without sounding menial. So, I shall welcome any suggestions for them, which portray dignity and respectability. It’s like we no longer address the physically handicapped, we call them ‘differently abled’, in Hindi they are 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 and I expressed it publicly in the TV Cleanathon last night as well.. and I do hope we get some good results.

Mr Bachchan in the end notes also applauded NDTV’s effort to spread the word about cleanliness, sanitation and many other issues in his blog. He added,

“15 hrs of non-stop TV Cleanathon for the cause of Swachch India.. and a most rewarding day..touching upon several issues, applauding various others that have dedicated their lives and time and energy to take this most essential mission forward. So much to do and not much time left, but initiatives are the harbingers of any movement and a beginning made never does become futile.. and NDTV-Cleanathon is one such example..”

We Need A Dignified Name For Manual Scavengers, Says Amitabh Bachchan

Screenshot of Amitabh Bachchan’s Blog

Mr Bachchan, as the campaign ambassador has been part of all Banega Swachh India 12-hour Cleanathons held every year on October 2 for the last five years now.

Recently during an interaction with Prime Minister through a video conference at the launch of 15-day cleanliness initiative Swachhata Hi Seva, Mr Bachchan encapsulated the five-year efforts of the NDTV-Dettol Banega Swachh India to spread awareness about sanitation, health and hygiene and further the cause of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. From raising funds to build toilets to getting people pledge volunteering hours for clean-up drives and as part of the #Mere10Guz initiative, which pushed the idea that if everybody cleaned up just 10 yards of their surroundings then India would become clean.

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollutionclean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.



  1. Imran

    January 27, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    Dear Amitabh ji,

    I would like to recommend the name Divyansh (part of divine light) for such people. I hope you will consider this name too among the many other recommendations that you might have received.

    Kind regards,

  2. Bharadwaj

    June 18, 2019 at 11:04 am

    What nonsense. We need to eliminate this horrible practice that is in existence since 1000s of centuries. Need totally mechanised and robotic instrument to uphold the dignity of humanity.

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