Ideas and Action for a Better India
Sudheendra Kulkarni, Chairman, Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Sanitation, Cleanliness and Community Health
One of the most heartening features of the inauguration of the Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Sanitation, Cleanliness and Community Health in Mumbai on Independence Day 2014 was that we felicitated a large number of Safai Karmacharis working for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has made an inspiring appeal to countrymen to make India Clean before 2019, as a fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, who regarded sanitation and cleanliness as important as Swaraj itself. He had exhorted: “If we do no keep our backyards clean, our Swaraj will have a foul stench.”
But how can MISSION 2019 succeed? It can only succeed if many difficult tasks are effectively undertaken. But, above all, its success depends on how well our nation treats our Safai Karmacharis. As Gandhiji, who was a proud and passionate Safai Karmachari himself, used to say, the community of Safai Karmacharis should be “clothed with dignity and respect” that is due to every human being.
Our society must eliminate the dirty mindset of looking down upon people engaged in cleanliness tasks. In addition to social prestige, Safai Karmacharis must have social and economic security. Their health needs must be attended to.
The Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Sanitation, Cleanliness and Community Health is a joint initiative of the Observer Research Foundation Mumbai (ORFMumbai) and Triratna Prerana Mandal, which has been doing commendable work in slum sanitation and waste management. We shall strongly espouse the cause of dignity, social recognition and socio-economic well-being of
millions of Safai Karmacharis in India.