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Get real on Swachh: on manual scavenging (THE HINDU)

Responsibility must be fixed on State governments to end manual scavenging

Despite the most stringent penal provisions in the law against manual scavenging, it continues in parts of India. The recent order of the Madras High Court asking the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government to ensure the strict enforcement of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, in the wake of the death of 30 people engaged in the activity in the State in recent years, points to the malaise. Evidently, the vigorous national campaign for the rehabilitation of those engaged to manually clean insanitary latrines, and urban structures into which human excreta flows without sewerage, has been unable to break governmental indifference and social prejudice. Manual scavenging persists mainly because of the continued presence of insanitary latrines, of which there are about 2.6 million that require cleaning by hand, according to the activist organisation, Safai Karmachari Andolan. In spite of a legal obligation to do so, State governments are not keen to demolish and rebuild old facilities lacking sanitation, or conduct a full census of both the latrines and the people engaged in clearing such waste. The Central government, which directly runs the self-employment scheme for the rehabilitation of these workers, has reduced funds from ₹448 crore in the 2014-15 budget to ₹5 crore this year. High allocation in the past has not meant substantial or effective utilisation. This is incongruous, as sanitation is high on the agenda of the NDA government, and the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s favourite programmes, to which the public was contributing a cess.

A determined approach to end the scourge requires a campaign against social prejudice that impedes solutions in two ways. Many communities still regard the inclusion of a sanitary toilet as ritual and physical pollution of the house, and even the less conservative are ready to accept only large, expensive and unscientific structures much bigger than those recommended by the WHO. More pernicious is the entrenched belief in the caste system, that assumes Dalits will readily perform the stigmatised task of emptying latrines. Clearly, the law on punishment exists only on paper. Change now depends on the willingness of the courts to fix responsibility on State governments, and order an accurate survey of the practice especially in those States that claim to have no insanitary latrines or manual scavenging. Raising the confidence level among those engaged in manual cleaning is vital; even official data show their reluctance to take up self-employment. Empowerment holds the key to change, but that would depend on breaking caste barriers through education and economic uplift. Compensation sanctioned for the families of those who died in the course of the humiliating and hazardous work should be paid immediately; only a fraction of those with verified claims have received it.

Learn Vocabulary from Newspaper Articles (THE HINDU)

1) Scavenging (verb) (सफाई ) :   scav-eng-ing
Meaning - search for and collect (anything usable) from discarded waste.
Synonyms -cleaning, scouring, chastening
Antonyms - ignore, neglect, rush
Example -My dog has a habit of scavenging and is always ready to eat any food that falls to the floor.

2) Pernicious (adjective) (तेज़ ): per-nish-us
Meaning - highly injurious or destructive
Synonyms:  harmful, damaging, destructive.
Antonyms - healthful, beneficial, favourable
Example -If you are going to behave in such a pernicious manner, I would prefer to not be around you.
3) Stigmatised (adjective) ( लांछित):  stig-mat-ized
Meaning - to accuse or condemn or openly or formally or brand as disgraceful 
Synonyms -  discredited, dishonoured, disparaged.
Antonyms - cajole, dignify , praise, flatter
Example - Single mothers often feel that they are stigmatised by society.

4) Scourge (noun)(दु:ख, विष, बोझ): skurj
Meaning -a persistent pest, illness, or source of trouble
Synonyms -  affliction, bane, a burden.
Antonyms- blessing, happiness, felicity
Example -Although the scourge of crime in the neighbourhood continues to get worse, most of the residents are older people who can’t afford to move.

5) Incongruous (adjective)  (बेमेल): in-kong-groo-us
Meaning - out of place; inconsistent or incompatible
Synonyms -  inappropriate, unsuitable; contrasting.
Antonyms - compatible, harmonious, appropriate, congruent
Example - Wearing a rain jacket in sunny weather is quite incongruous.
6)Malaise (noun) (अस्वस्थता): ma-laise
Meaning - a feeling of general bodily discomfort, fatigue or unpleasantness
Synonyms - illness, disease.
Antonyms - Bliss, health, ecstasy
Example - Many citizens who live near the contaminated lake are complaining of a malaise that keeps them bedridden.

7) Stringent (adjective) ( कड़ी से कड़ी):  strin-jent
Meaning -very strict or severe
Synonyms - strict, precise, firm/rigid.
Antonyms -  flexible, lenient , benign, flaccid
Example -Many Americans are keeping their money in overseas banks because the tax laws are less stringent in foreign countries.ncy.

8) Impede (verb) ( बाधा डालना ):  im-peed
Meaning -to interfere with or slow the progress of
Synonyms -hinder, obstruct, hamper.
Antonyms - Assist, help, actuate
Example -If you do not eat while you are sick, the lack of nutrients will impede your recovery.
9) Entrenched (adjective) (  अंतर्निहित  ): en-tren-ch-d
Meaning - to establish an attitude, habit, or belief so strongly that it is not likely to change
Synonyms -fixed, inflexible, instilled .
Antonyms -  vulnerable, adjustable, unestablished
Example -Our soldiers have entrenched themselves behind the battle lines.

10)Rehabilitation (noun) – re-habi-lae-shun
Meaning - the action of bringing (someone or something) back to a normal
Synonyms - Regeneration, renewal, revival, betterment
Antonyms - Atrophy, depletion
Example -There is an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center near our house.

Now considering the article above as a Reading Comprehension, try to answer the following questions-
  • Which approach has the author suggested to impede manual scavenging?
  • To whom, the compensation sanctioned should be paid immediately?
Now it's time to check your vocabulary. We have given below some words from the same article. Try to make sentences with these words in the comment section which will be reviewed by us.
  • Enforcement
  • Provision
  • Conservative
  • Insanitary
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