India has the second largest scavenging population of the world after China. Scavenger community is known by different names in India like Bhangi, Hadi, Thotti, Mehtar, Dhanuk, Valmiki, Chuhra and Balmiki (Haryana). Whatever they are called, they are placed at the bottom of the Hindu caste hierarchy. Their relation with the unclean occupation is hereditary, passed on from generation to generation.
Scavengers are involved in different kind of work, exposing them to being looked at as unclean and of lows status. In fact, their work is one of the most essential service for our society. By sweeping the streets, they provide the neccessary cleanliness and conditions that make our everyday business possible. Without scavengers, our environment would not look like it does these day. Under the increasing population and pollution in our country, their work becomes even more important.
Manual scavenging is a task performed by people of a particular caste in India which is why it has assumed the character of a caste based occupation and the caste has assumed the identity of being the ‘scavenger community’. Manual scavenging refers to the removal of human waste/ excreta using brooms, tin plates and baskets from the dry latrine and carrying it on head to disposal and the people engaged doing it are referred as manual scavengers. They play a crucial role in maintaining cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation. Scavengers are responsible for cleaning roads, streets, sewage, animal dung, toilets and even human excreta from toilet pits.Despite being engaged in this essential yet inhuman work, scavengers are the most ignored communities of society.
Movement for Scavenger Community (MSC) wants to improve the conditions for the scavenger community, provide them access to education and open alternative career oportunities. Read more about MSC here.