The group of young innovators from Genrobotics couldn’t have done anything better than bringing a smile on the faces of people who are involved manual scavenging works for decades. The shocking images of the people who earn their lively hood by risking their lives cleaning the sewage by immersing themselves in neck deep of liquid waste has prompted everyone with a question , when are we going to change the ordeal of this community who risks their life every time while clearing the clogs in the sewage pipes underground. The group of young innovators from Genrobotics, Technopark Trivandrum has come up with a semi-robotic device named “Bandicoot “, which has the potential to address the problems and rescue the workers from risking their lives.
The semi-automatic robot with its inbuilt arms can get into the bottom of sewage pipes and scoop up the liquid waste and get it dumped into the collecting vessel. The Safai Karmachari Andolan has been fighting to eradicating the manual scavenging in India for many years, In spite of their mission to wipe out the manual scavenging from the society, Our deep-rooted and century-old caste system always prevailed over the basic humanity to rehabilitate all the scavengers from this undignified profession. The team of youngsters had spent weeks in the different parts of the country studying, how the manual scavenging has been done, After spending some much time watching the ordeal of cleaning the waste from the sewage pipes prompted the innovators to find a solution to address the problem through the means of the technology. The team from Genrobotics after careful analysis of the situation designed a “Bandicoot” completely functional robotic model within a span of two months. The device is equipped with a user interface and can be controlled easily by training the workers. Social Innovation by this youngster devoting their time and effort to improve the lives of this vulnerable section of the population should be considered as an activity having the elements of compassion, empathy. Great step with innovation can save the lives of people who often die breathing toxic gases emanating from the sewage pipes.
Although in 1993, manual scavenging practice was banned, it is still very prevalent and continues to claim lives. According to Socioeconomic and caste census 2011, 182,505 households in rural India with at least one member doing manual scavenging , According Wilson Magsaysay award award winner , 2016 says as per the study carried out by his organization revealed that around 1.6lakh manual scavengers in India, But the government figures are much lower, also 99 % of them who are involved in this activity are Dalits. The apathy towards this class of people still continues unabated and the government gives less priority to rehabilitate them. The innovation by Genrobotics is a great step in the right direction to protect the interest of these peoples. The “Bandicoot” semi-automatic robot can replace the manual scavenging jobs and in future, it can save many lives which otherwise could have lost if allowed to continue without any respite.
A sample survey of manual scavengers(A Summary of documented cases submitted to the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment )
Manual scavengers who left manual scavenging after sample survey and awaiting for rehabilitation
In spite in last 65 years since independence , we as a society still lives and breathes the old practices of treating , discriminating people on the basis of caste and creed, The old practice of Dalits as a marginalised community being who are being heckled and brutally treated still continued without any change . We all are living in a highly technocratic environment with more advances in technology happening everywhere across the world , we as a nation is largely following the trend of a free flow of information, access and use of technology to improve one’s life for better. But I feel so ashamed that we as a society still feels the same in the way we treat marginalised communities like Dalits. They are still being allowed to all those menial and risky jobs like manual scavenging , I heard no politicians expressing in strong words against this decade-old practice , we call ourselves as an empowered society who knows how to fight for their rights . But so far society has not stood to fight against the practice of manual scavenging.
Bezwada Wilson and his movement Safai karmachari Andolan
Bezwada Wilson from Karnataka a Dalit by himself stands apart , he has started Safai karmachari andolan which fights against the manual scavenging , the removal of human excreta using their hands and disposing the waste to disposal sites by carrying it on their heads, sometimes their predicament is so bad they have to get themselves immersed in sewage canals for long hours to drain the waste from it, they often involve in this activity in bad light with lesser oxygen to breathe , by putting their own lives at huge risk . But we care very less about the plight n of such people who daily fights for their lives by scavenging the human waste to earn their living. Don’t we have a better system still in this country to dispose of human waste ?
Swach Bharath Abhiyan & Cess
Our Govt takes pride in the Swatch Bharath Abhiyan and celebrities from all walks of life openly promote the need for having a toilet in every household , To build toilets across the length bad breadth of this country we as a society is in fact paying an indirect cess to the govt . But we as a society never felt the importance of highlighting the issue of manual scavenging , No celebrities or the media has shown interest in stopping this practice and empower those people who are involved this activities generations after generation. So-called sophisticated, elite or upper class treat those people with contempt , insanity. When are we going to get way from the shackles of this oppressive system of caste and creed create, divide within the human beings?
Govt is the biggest culprit
The 2016 Magsasay award winner MR Bezwada Wilson is fighting for the cause of around 180,000 thousand households cleaning 79,0000 dry toilets in which mostly are women folks who deliberately pushed to this profession as hereditary , see the biggest violator is the successive govt in spite of having constitutional rules and laws prohibiting this practice , but govt failed miserably to enforce the rights of this people. The biggest irony is that this problem is faced not by majority community , but a lesser cross section of the population who are very many minorities , who are sidelined . So their rights for a better living don’t have much value for the society as a whole. I think as a progressive society we should have collectively fight this practice , stopped by all means if anybody saw promoting this. It is shame collective as a society that we are still allowing this to continue even after having suitable protection under the constitution for a decent living with dignity and respect. As per the 2011 census shows , UP tops the chart with more no of dry toilets.