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Swacch Bharat Abhiyan for eradicating untouchability

Home Minister Rajnath Singh sharing a meal with conservancy workers as part of the campaign in New Delhi on Monday.- Photo: R. V. Moorthy

Home Minister Rajnath Singh sharing a meal with conservancy workers as part of the campaign in New Delhi on Monday.- Photo: R. V. Moorthy  

At an event to commemorate the birth anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar here on Monday, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the BJP government’s flagship Swacch Bharat Abhiyan was not to be seen only as a cleanliness awareness campaign but also as an effort to eradicate untouchability propagated through the practice of manual scavenging.

Organised by the Sulabh International Social Service Organisation, the event encouraged participants to take the pledge of eradicating untouchability from India once and for all. Women from Alwar and Tonk district of Rajasthan, who were previously working as manual scavengers and had been rehabilitated by Sulabh, participated in the event.

“A day ahead of Ambedkar Jayanthi, it is a historic moment to watch women who were previously working as manual scavengers, now reformed and leading a life of dignity, thanks to the efforts of social workers,” Mr. Singh said.

Mr. Singh said there was no difference between different individuals in Indian society. He quoted an ancient saying, “ Yat pinde, tat Brahmande ”, to imply that every individual was part of a greater whole in the society. But only some individuals such as Sulabh International founder Bindeshwar Pathak, who is working for improving the lot of manual scavengers, were guided by India’s ancient wisdom, he said. “The highest spiritual goal that a Hindu aspires to is moksha and it can only be attained by doing good deeds and benefiting society.”

Mr. Pathak told The Hindu that it was time to end the scourge of manual scavenging in India. “We need the government to take more efforts and have phased programmes to address the challenge. Though the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan is focussing more on cleanliness, it should also aim to provide toilet coverage to all Indian households, which can bring down the need to employ manual scavengers,” he said.

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