It is a Sunday. So, Raju does not have to worry about school. He is enjoying a cartoon show on TV. Suddenly, the doorbell rings. Raju's mother says it must be the man who comes to collect garbage. Raju's mother asks Raju to give the bin bag to the man.
Raju makes an awful face. He does not like to pick up the dirty bin bag. But her mother forces him to do so. After picking the bin bag, Raju walks slowly towards the door. On most of the days, it is his mother who gives the garbage to the person who comes to collect it.
Since when they have been doing this work?
Answer: The sweeper of my neighbourhood has been doing this work since 15 years.
How much have they studied?
Answer: He is 12th pass
Have they tried to look for some other work?
Answer: He tried to find a job of bank clerk, but could not succeed.
Did the elders in their family also do this work?
Answer: His parents and grandparents were also doing the work of sweeping and cleaning.
What kind of difficulties do they face in doing this work?
Answer: They face many difficulties in doing this work. Some of them are as follows:
Our house and neighbourhood should be clean. It needs lots of sweeping and mopping to maintain cleanliness. Sanitation workers from municipality sweep the streets. They also collect garbage. You will notice that all the sanitation workers belong to certain communities of the society. People from other communities do not do such jobs.
This system has been in place since ages. If you will ask a sanitation worker then you will find that their forefathers did the same job. Poverty and age-old social norms force such people to opt for such tasks.
What kinds of work or jobs do people not want to do? Why?
Answer: Most of the people do not want to do the work of cleaning. This is seen as a dirty job.
So, who does this kind of work? Why do people do this kind of work that others do not want to do?
Answer: People want to work in offices. They want white collar jobs. People who do the job of cleaning come from poor families. They come from a specific community. Almost everyone from that community is engaged in similar jobs.
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?
Answer: If nobody does the job of cleaning, then our surrounding will remain dirty. If garbage is not collected for one week, it will start gicing unbearable stench. People will fall sick.
Why did Gandhiji and his team start doing the job of cleaning? What do you think about this?
Answer: Gandhiji wanted to show that every work is important. He wanted people to respect those who do menial works. He wanted the bad practice of untouchability to end. I think Gandhiji was right.
Guests at Gandhiji's Ashram had to learn this work also. If you were one of these guests, what would you do?
Answer: If I were one of the guests at Gandhiji's Ashram, I would also have done the cleaning work. Though, initially I may have refused to do so.
What are the toilet arrangements in your house? Where is the toilet? Inside the house or outside? Who cleans the toilet?
Answer: There are two toilets in my house. One of them is attached to a bedroom. My mother cleans the toilet every week.
How do people generally behave with those people who clean toilets and drains? Write.
Answer: People generally maintain a distance from the workers who clean toilets and drains. Such jobs are considered dirty.
Note: This sketch is based on a sketch by R K Laxman. I (Ajay Anand) have made this sketch.
During Gandhiji's time, toilets were entirely different than modern toilets. A toilet meant a pan kept under a platform with a hole. A person had to sit on the platform in order to shit, and the shit fell in the pan which was kept below the platform.
The sanitation workers came to collect the pan and empty the pan somewhere. Carrying the night-soil (shit) was usually done by women of a particular community. As such people were doing the dirty job they were looked as dirty people.
People from other communities avoided going anywhere near sanitation workers. Even the shadow of such people was considered to be impure. Such people were not allowed to live in the village. Their houses were always on the outskirts of the village. This practice is known as untouchability. This means that people from the mainstream avoided being touched by untouchables. Gandhiji coined a new name for them, Harijan. Gandhiji worked very hard to abolish the practice of untouchability.
Who does the cleaning in your school? What all has to be cleaned?
Answer: There are five sweepers in my school. They clean the toilets and do the sweeping and mopping of all the classrooms.
Do all children like you help in this? If yes, how?
Answer: None of the students help the sweepers in my school.
If all do not help, why not?
Answer: We never felt the need. Nobody, told us to do so.
Do the girls and boys do the same kinds of work?
Answer: In my house, my sister is learning to cook. She can make perfectly round chapattis. I am usually asked to go the nearby grocery store to buy some items.
What all works do you do at home?
Answer: I don’t have much work to do at home. I am only asked to go the nearby grocery store to buy some items.
Is the work done by boys and girls, men and women the same?
Answer: Works done by boys and girls, men and women are different. My father goes to his office every day. My mother does cooking and washing. My sister helps her. Being a boy, I am not supposed to do household chores.
Would you like to bring some change? What kind?
Answer: I would also love to learn cooking. I think, I should help my mother in laundry.
Certain tasks are supposed to be done by women only. Men and boys are not supposed to do such tasks. For example, cooking, sweeping and washing are generally done by ladies of the house. We have some fixed images for roles of men and women. Such images are called stereotypes. Some examples of such stereotypes are as follows:
It gives an impression that none of the woman has ever become a pilot. None of the man has ever become a nurse. Boys should never play with a doll. Girls should never play with a toy car. All of these are examples of stereotypes.
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