Those who have less in life should have more in LawArvind Kejriwal
Before 2015, the Department of SC/ST was just like any other government department which indulged in mere ‘tokenism’ in the name of upholding minority rights in Delhi. This was also the time when several deaths of manual scavengers were reported in the capital. Manual scavenging is an occupation that is carried out overwhelmingly by the lower castes who are socially and economically deprived. These manual scavengers lost their lives while cleaning septic tanks in various parts of Delhi. The department of SC/ST Welfare seldom took notice of these deaths.
As an activist and also an advocate by profession, Rajendra decided to uplift the lives of manual scavengers in Delhi. In 2017, when he was appointed as the Minister of Social Welfare, the first task he undertook was criminalizing manual scavenging in Delhi. Department announced a blanket ban on manual cleaning of sewers in Delhi and any contractor who is found violating the rule will be booked under culpable homicide i.e. the violator will be charged with murder.
This was was the first time, any government took such a strong step to eradicate manual scavenging. Read more…
However, Rajendra’s mission was far being over. Criminalizing manual scavenging was not the solution. It is only through a sound policy through which we can change the mindset of people and can restore the dignity of labor for the sewer cleaners in Delhi. In a bid to completely do away with the practice of manual cleaning of sewers, the department worked on designing special sewer cleaning machines, which were later provided to sanitation workers and already working manual scavengers. They were also provided with protective gear such as masks and gloves while operating on the machine. This was the first time in the history of India where a special technology was developed which not only put an end to manual cleaning of sewers in the Capital but also ensured that manual scavengers and sanitation workers become employable.
This wasn’t the only project that Department of Social Welfare undertook. It also launched the Jai Bhim Mukhyamantri Pratibha Vikas Yojana for SC/ST/OBC and EWS category students who can avail private coaching for competitive exams such as NEET, JEE, Civil Services, etc. The fees of their coaching is entirely sponsored by Department.
From a department that nobody knew about to the one which became the hub of policy initiatives that uplifted the lives of those who were suppressed and marginalized.Rajendra Pal Gautam
However, this is not the end. Rajendra wish for a country where even the most marginalized is socially and economically empowered and lives a life of dignity.
Above excerpt is taken from Rajendra Pal Gautam’s campaign page on Our Democracy.
Read complete list of initiatives from the Department of Social Welfare.