Rotten Journalism: Swami Style damages Dignity

08Dec09

em>In a splendid reply to Pravin Swami’s article “Where style has trumped substance”(dt.26 November,2009) Lalit Khandare attempts to put cause before pervert journalism and dents question on today’e upper caste writing style

Pic 01 Public Sanitation at the cost of Life

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(Courtsey @ Sudharak Olwe from http://tinyurl.com/yz6opd5)

In an article "Where style has trumped substance" by Pravin Swami on 26 November,2009, the writer comes across as making an appeal that salaries of Sanitation workers must not be increased at cost of national security.
Pravin Swami says, "Working upwards of fourteen hours a day — not counting the typically three hours spent commuting — constable Kamble earns a basic pay of Rs. 5,200 a month. Sanitation workers employed by the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation are paid less — Rs. 4,440 a month — but end up taking home similar wages, because of overtime. Indeed, until the Sixth Pay Commission recently upgraded the categorisation of police work as semi-skilled from skilled, sanitation workers actually made more money. Little has been done to upgrade the police’s living standards and training."

This article by Pravin Swami hints to question the “higher earnings” of sanitation worker than that of security personnel.

Higher wages for sanitation worker can help them choose better education and provide better health facilities for their children and family. Although it is highly improbable, higher wages might encourage people from other castes to also join these services. In reality the working conditions and wages of sanitation workers in Mumbai is not sufficient to protect their lives. Maharashtra police personnel have comprehensive health insurance; however nothing exist of that sort for sanitation worker who are equally or more vulnerable to health crisis than police personnel. There are around 30,000 conservancy workers in Mumbai. Most of them die cleaning this financial capital of our Country. Merciless Caste-Hindus never paid attention to the issue of untouchability that migrated to the urban sphere and its heinous impacts. There had been proposition and efforts from social scientists and policy makers to impose ESMA (Essential Services & Maintenance Act) to curtail the right to strike of conservancy workers, and also to privatize their services.

All low caste jobs while being degrading and non-dignifying in nature help the majority of this country’s people absolve their responsibility towards managing their own filth and garbage. It is worth noting the comment of Jairam Ramesh, Environment and Forest Minister who said, “Our cities are the dirtiest of the world. If there is a Nobel Prize for dirt and filth, India will win it.” Socio-culturally we have given this task of cleaning dirt in rural and urban India predominantly to “untouchables” and few other most backward castes. Can we say that “untouchables” failed to perform their merit in cleaning Indian cities and now let other communities take up responsibility to show their merit?
There are good number of research and documentaries (eg. “Lesser Humans' by Stalin K) showing the different forms of untouchability practices amongst conservancy workers in cities. Sudharak Olwe, a National Geographic and many other awards winner had pointed out the plight of conservancy workers in Mumbai. His photo story titled, ‘In search of Dignity and Justice: The Untold Story of Mumbai's Conservancy Workers’ puts the plight of the city’s conservancy workers in sharp focus.

The first anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, which got the undivided attention of the media and public, also took focus away from another important event that fell on November 26 – the national Constitution day. The very Constitution of India which gives liberty and freedom of expression to media, which is the fourth pillar of democracy. Without caring for their lives, Dalits martyrs led their lives for the cause of people during 26/11, however no-one got due attention. Dalits have always been at the forefront in protecting our country (in-spite of being enslaved in their very own country for centuries), historically they have proved their bravery, but are we ready to address the gross inequality and injustice with Dalit officers in defence and security forces. While comparing the devotion and dedication of security personnel and conservancy workers, it must be noted that few conservancy workers also lost their life while cleaning the filth of victims of 26/11 (to name few -Thakur Waghela & Bhagan Shinde). Talking about their contribution along with death of two security guards, Mumbai Board chairman Amarjit Singh Manhas said in Mumbai mirror March, 9, 2009, “The contribution of these people is as important as that of all police personnel killed in the 26/11 terror attacks. This is our way of recognizing their contribution”.
The question is “are we safe, secure, just, and equal society?” or “are we striving towards Constitutional ideals” before we talk about “are we safe and secure nation.”

Mr. Pravin Swami and fellow citizens, are we ready to address these gross violations of Dalit rights and treat them as equal dignified human being in this 21st century?



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