By Amit Chamaria
26 February, 2008
“Caste reveals work or work reveals Caste”-these seem to be different in writings but are still carrying a similar message for the prevailing complex realities in a country like India. This fact is clearly reflected when the Central government and the Haryana state government associate the caste identity closely with work or vice- versa. It means – if some one belongs to a lower caste, he/she is bound to work as Safai Karamchari or very similar to this avocation.
Recently, a committee related to Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan and Navodya Vidyalaya Samitti for the welfare of Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Scheduled Caste (SCs) has tabled its recommendation at Lok Sabha on December 1, 2007 that Safai Karamcari for the Central
Schools and its offices must be recruited exclusively only from STs and SCs category. It only reveals that these castes traditionally working for the same jobs, are still adjudged as best suited for this work. More over, the Haryana government also attempted to glorify itself through such advertisement in a new paper that it is dedicated to the right of the Dalits. The ad pronounces -‘a good opportunity for SCs that 11,000 Safai Karamchari will be recruited only from SCs.”
Here rises a question -why only these types of jobs are exclusively reserved for SCs and ST?
Obviously, this exercise of both the governments imply -the nature of scavenging job is abhorred by the society at large and treated as a polluted one : hence the preserve of low caste people or those who are not socially respectable ones. In both the cases the governments seem to subscribe to such a notion.
In this context it is essential to mention that in many cases non Dalits reportedly cornered these
jobs by producing false ‘caste’ certificate. But such eople never do the ‘dirty’ job and instead hire
people from Dalit community to work in their place. And , they give a very small portion of the salary
they draw to the contracted workers. Clearly, the governments seem to preserve this type of jobs
exclusively for Dalit community or also people belonging to upper castes feel that ‘this should be
done only by Dalits’. Historically, mythological stories of Sambuk and Eklavaya also bear close
resemblance to this type of upper caste social aptitude being exhibited by the governments on the
modern days too. As the myths go, Eklavaya, a low caste youth was tactically made to lose his thumb by his Brahmin Guru thereby incapacitating him lifelong to compete with Kshatriya warriors in archery .Similarly, Sambuk, a Dalit lost his life only because he dared to grasp the Vedas, a religious text. So Sambuk and Eklavya were made to suffer discrimination only because of their being low caste people.
In the democratic society of the day the Dalits are suffering from many such discriminations but
clothed in new different and sophisticated jargons and acts. Reserving the job of ‘Safai Karamchari’ only for Dalits is one of this type of discriminations. If really governments want to uplift the socially
outcast people, then why they should not be provided higher percentage of reservation in other jobs too. Currently, a small protest appeared in the media regarding a line in the title track of the movie ‘Aaja Nachle’ in which the cobbler, representing a caste and a profession both, has been seen with indecency.
In the above cases pertaining to the job of yes.Safai Karamchari, no political parties and so called
social organizations has come forward to protest against the governments’ approach of preserving the ‘perceived dirty job for the low caste people. Perhaps this escaped the notice of general public.
Ironically, both the Centre and Haryana are interested for uplifting the Dalits including SCs and STs. The issue has been sarcastically put out by a renowned Hindi poet, Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh-“Duniya Kuch Aur Behatar Chahiye, Safai Ke liye Mehtar Chahiye!”(The environmernt should be neat and clean so sweepers are essential!)