Updated: Nov 24, 2021
“The untidy hands often belongs to those who are involved in cleanliness”
India, a country where personal hygiene is given the utmost place in lifestyle, that is one of the reasons that we put off our shoes before entry. A sense of cleanliness finds its very place in our religion and culture. Social baths find their existence in our festivals with one of the essential part is the sacred dip in holy rivers, Holy dips are considered as the purifying agent to the body and mind and pave the way to the Moksha.
In our society we also see some people having sacred dip for purification, not for themselves but for the society, all around the country you see the sewage cleaners diving deep in the sewage waste. These sewage cleaners are generally the sweepers belonging to a lower caste. These are the people who enter the unhygienic conditions to maintain social hygiene. Despite the plethora of advancements we have made but, we are still ushering a fraction of society to odd jobs like these. Not only the unhygienic conditions is the only negative thing in the lives of sewage cleaners, but the threat to their lives, each time when they take a dip in the sewage raises a question to the modern human civilization. Around 50 sewage workers lost their lives in the first six months in 2019, due to the harmful emission of substances. The thin veneer of civilization gets thinner when we see the plight of the sewage cleaners.
The COVID-19 is a new challenge to the world, and the world is fighting it with full strength. Studies have stated the presence of Coronavirus in human waste can be visible prior to any other symptomatic symptoms. Even Coronavirus was detected in the sewage in some countries prior to the reporting of the first case through testing of sewage waste, also it has become a well-established fact that the virus can stay alive in excreta for about a week. When the world is fighting Corona by wearing masks, gloves and PPE kits, what would the government provide to these sewage cleaners for their protection, when they will have their sacred dips post the lockdown conditions. How will the government protect these workers from getting infected at the same time performing their duty? Safety measures for the sewage cleaners and their active testing should be an essential part of the municipal corporations. Despite seeing the revolution in technology, it feels pathetic that we are still dependent on manual sewage cleaning, I think start-ups should come up with their innovative solutions so that the only sacred dip we see in India should be the holy dip in river Ganga and other sacred rivers.