Sunday, March 6, 2016



Have you seen such scenes around you? Have you ever thought of people who do this work? Can you imagine how they would feel?
Why do you think people need to do this kind of work?

Our friends spoke to some staff who do cleaning jobs. Here are some of the things they told us.
Since when have you been doing this work?
A. About twenty years. Since I completed my studies.
Q. Why did you not study further? You could have got some other job?
A. You need money for studies. And even after that most of our people continue to do this kind of work.
Q. What do you mean?
A. Since our great grandfathers’ times... or even before that, most people of our community have been doing this work. Even after getting a college degree, our people do not get any other kind of job. So they have to do this work.
Q. Why is that so?
A. That is the way it is. In the entire city, all the people who do this kind of work are from our community. It has always been so.
Interview (adapted) from the documentary film ‘India Untouched’ by Stalin. K.

What would happen if nobody did this work? If nobody cleared the garbage lying outside your school or your house for one week, then what would happen?

Think of some ways (machines, or other things) so that people would not have to do the work they don't like to do. Draw a picture of what you thought. (These pictures are also made by children)
Do you think that anyone has ever tried to change this situation? Yes, many people have tried. People are trying even today. But it is not easy to change this.

One such person was Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji had a friend Mahadevbhai Desai. Mahadevbhai’s son Narayan also stayed with Gandhiji when he was young. This incident is from Narayan's book.

Teacher’s Note
Remembering those days
When Narayan (Babla) was about 11 years old, he was staying in Gandhiji’s Sabarmati Ashram. Like everyone else in the Ashram, he had to do various kinds of work. One of his jobs was to teach the guests how to clean the toilets.

In those days, the toilets were not what we know today. There used to be holes under which baskets were kept. People sat on the holes. Later the baskets had to be lifted by hand, to be emptied.

It was the usual practice that people from a particular community would do this work. But in Gandhiji’s Ashram, every person had to carry the basket to the compost pit and empty it there. No one was excused from this task - not even the guests. Narayanbhai remembers how some people used to try and avoid this work. Some even left the Ashram because of this.

Some years later Gandhiji went to stay at a village, near Wardha in Maharashtra. Gandhiji, Mahadevbhai and others started to clean the toilets in the village. They did this for some months. One morning a man coming from the toilet, saw Mahadevbhai.

He pointed to him and said “There is a lot of dirt over there. Go and clean that!” When Babla saw this, he was very angry. He thought, the villagers felt that this was not their work. This was for Gandhiji and his team to do. He asked Gandhiji why this was so. Gandhiji replied, “Untouchability is a serious matter.

Lot of hardwork will be required to change this.” Narayan knew that the people who usually did this work were thought to be untouchable. He asked “What is the use if the village people do not
change their thinking? They have become used to someone else doing this work for them.”

Gandhiji replied, “Why”? Don’t you think the people who clean also benefit from it. They also learn a lesson. To learn something is like learning a new skill. Even if it is a cleaning job.”

Little Narayan was not convinced. He again argued, “Those who make a place dirty but do not clean it should also learn lessons.” Gandhiji and Narayan continued to argue about this. But when he grew up Narayan always followed the path shown by Gandhiji. From the book in Gujarati by Narayanbhai Desai – Sant-Charan-Raj, Sevita, Sahaj

A childhood story
This story is almost a hundred years old. Seven-year old Bhim went to Goregaon
in Maharashtra with his father to spend his holidays. He saw a barber cutting the long hair of a rich farmer’s buffallo.

He thought of his own long hair. He went to the barber and asked for a hair cut. The barber replied, “If I cut your hair both my razor and I will get dirty.” Oh, so to cut human hair can be dirtier than cutting an animal’s hair, wondered little Bhim.

Later this little Bhim was known as Bhim Rao Baba Saheb Ambedkar.
He became very famous across the world. Baba Saheb fought for justice for people like him. After India’s freedom the Constitution was prepared under the leadership of Baba Saheb.

Narayan and Gandhiji discussed all this many years ago. Have
things changed now? A conversation in school - the reality today
Hetal : I am Hetal, and this is Meena. We both study in Class III.
Q: What all do you do in school.
Meena: We clean the ground
Q: Do all children clean
Hetal : No, not all.
Meena : We also have to clean the toilets. We do it on different days. I
clean on Monday, she does on Tuesday, and she on Wednesday … All
the children from our community do this.
Hetal : We have to carry twenty buckets of water for this. We have to
sweep and wash.
Q : Why only you? Why not all the children?
Hetal : Only we have to. If we don’t we get beaten.

Interview (adapted) from the documentary film ‘India Untouched’ by Stalin. K.



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