The sickening weight on the backs of outcasts

L.C. Jain on Baba Amte in Deccan Herald:

“He once organised a scavengers’ (night soil collectors’) union, but when they struck for higher wages while he was still vice chairman of the municipality, he refused their demands because the town committee lacked funds. The strikers charged he was unsympathetic because he had never carried a pan of night soil on his head.

“‘Imagine our plight during the monsoon,’ they pleaded.

“They challenged him to do the job and then reconsider. Baba Amte accepted the challenge and was assigned 40 latrines. Daily he collected the steel pans of excrement from the backs of houses and carried them on his head to the disposal sites. It was revolting and sickening labour and affected him profoundly, deepening his regard for, and commitment to, these outcasts. The scavengers received their raise.”

Read the full tribute: Riding sports car to serving lepers

Also read: Silicon City has night soil carriers

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