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Scanger is metaphor of Gandhi's thoughts

Scanger is metaphor of GandhiScanger is metaphor of Gandhi’s thoughts
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The hype and hoopla over Gandhi Jayanti have come to an end. Now it's time to contemplate over the plight of manual scavengers. The manual scavenger...

The hype and hoopla over Gandhi Jayanti have come to an end. Now it's time to contemplate over the plight of manual scavengers. The manual scavenger has to be read in many ways. As a broken discard of the caste system, he is still the casualty of the sanitation system.

The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan as a project falls or survives depending on the future of the manual scavenger. But the scavenger is not the object of policy. He can help redefine it. For example, the scavenger is an embodiment of the sensorium. As Bezwada Wilson once suggested, by rethinking smell, you can redefine a city.

A scavenger can challenge the deodorised Brahminic city and make one rethink the elitism of planning. Oddly, the only college Gandhi established was a college for scavengers at Gandhi Ashram.

Between the scavenger as innovator, working sewage waste and dirt, Gandhi had the outlines of a different city and a different technology. If one explores the history of his ashrams, many of them experimented on flush tanks and various kinds of commodes. In many ways, the character of the scavenger was as important to Gandhi as the craftsmen and the peasant.

Each unravelled a particular critique of society, body and technology. Each demanded a different grammar of innovation and justice. The scavenger was in many senses literally Gandhi's last man, the touchstone, the index of evaluating any project, both in terms of livelihood and justice. But in a deeper way, like charkha, waste and the scavenger were metaphors of Gandhian thought.

-Harsha Vardhan Ch, Nizamabad

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