Friday, 23 July 2010

Wake up and smell the Shit!

64 years after independence we have scavengers who manually dispose of  human faeces for a living. If that is not enough (and shameful), these very same people, are being  intimidated, isolated and evicted because of their caste. Wake up and  smell the shit!

Savanur, in Haveri District of Karnataka, was  the site of a protest that should act as wake-up call for every citizen  and the government. Unfortunately, like every other warning signal that we  have seen about the issue of disparity, this too was either ignored or treated like  some shit on the road that we need to walk around.

While the citizens of the town need them for scavenging, they are not  willing to let them live in their home of 40 years. They are not willing  to let them access water - and if they do so - they are accused of  theft - or have to pay a fine of 2000 Rs - something that is beyond  their means. You clean the town's drains manually ...but are denied water to clean  yourself? A 'commercial complex' gets priority over their lives? 

Kannada papers did cover it, and one even dedicated an editorial. Vernacular news channels too touched upon it - but it got the treatment of something that came of the ticker. To Deccan Herald's credit, it did cover the story.

What about the national media? Why the hell did they not editorialize it? Why did studios not discuss it?

Did somebody say the caste system is dead? Is India anywhere close to shining? Not when people have to cover themselves in human excrement as a mark of protest against being denied access to water and being displaced from their homes.

If India has to rise and shine, we need to wake up and smell the shit.


  1. Yeah I read it in DH yesterday. Very sad :| Seriously, these people have to move out of their houses because of a commercial complex? Ugh.
    But the article didn't mention if the place they were living on belonged to them.

  2. @PramodBiligiri

    The article does indicate that the land is theirs collectively.

    If we look at the DH piece, it says they were resident there for several decades.

    When they first moved in - it would have been a few years or maybe a decade before independence. Considering their status (Both then and now) - highly unlikely that they would been in a position to acquire land through purchase. They would, in all reasonable likelihood, have been allowed to stay there - with the consent of upper-caste members of the area. To turn up after decades and ask for ownership papers is a bit shaky no?

    They may not be in a position to sell the land themselves - but that does not imply - that they can be evicted.

    It's more about displacement than it is about land ownership. I don't expect them to have a "patta" when they have been carrying the excrement of the town on their heads for decades. Cutting of the water supply is extremely intimidatory and discriminatory - it does not matter if they have an illegal connection - considering the kind of work they do - free water is the least that they deserve.

  3. In a way I agree. It can probably be easily shown that they were allowed to settle there (I think 80 years ago is what some news source said) by the powers-that-be. They should given clear property rights to their settlements and left alone.

  4. It is shameful. The municipality should have provided decent accommodation before trying to evict them. I am sure the officials in question should be put in prison for casteist harrasment.

  5. Why should they be evicted in the first place?