Expressing serious concern over the persistence of manual scavenging in 22 States of India, social activist and National Convener of Safai Karamchari Andolan, Mr. Bezwada Wilson said that his mission would not be over until manual scavenging is fully eliminated.
He was speaking at the RV University in Bengaluru after inaugurating the Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Contemporary Ethics.
Referring to the plight of women who are forced to persist in manual scavenging for earning their daily bread, Mr. Wilson expressed deep pain and declared that he would not rest until last woman who is engaged in cleaning dry toilets is liberated.
Referring to two thousand people who lost their lives while cleaning sewers and septic tanks since 1990, Bezwada Wilson stressed the need for strict enforcement of legislation prohibiting manual scavenging, proper conduct of surveys by the District Collectors to identify manual scavengers and thereafter rehabilitate them. Pointing out that data regarding such tragic deaths is not maintained by the National Crimes Records Bureau, Mr. Wilson emphasized the need for maintaining proper data in this regard. “While we are trying to send a mission to Mars, we are unable to harness technology in aid of people who dive into ten feet deep sewers without protective equipment and die in the process”, he added.
Mr. Bezwada Wilson underscored the need for sensitive judiciary to address violation of the law regarding elimination of manual scavenging. Drawing attention to the practice of untouchability in certain pockets, caste-based segregation in rural villages, contemporary manifestations of slavery like manual scavenging, Mr. Wilson stressed the need to fight inequalities and bridge gender gap. He stressed that Constitutional ideals of `liberty’, `equality’ and `fraternity’ must become a reality for all.
Inaugurating the Centre, Dr. Bezwada Wilson said, “Gandhiji’s teaching are imperative in todays’ world, and they are more relevant than ever before. The youth of today will be the next generation of leaders and they must lead with empathy and compassion. It is imperative to place interest of others ahead of self and fulfill our responsibility as responsible citizens. Many have sacrificed their lives for us, now it is our time to destroy the hurdles ahead of us and create a world with liberty and freedom. Regardless of age, ability, status or gender we need to be better human beings who practice equality and equity before we become citizens of the nation. We tend to lose track of our lives in this busy world, I’m happy to see that RV University follows its legacy and help build a better future for the next generation.”
In his welcome address, Professor Y.S.R. Murthy, Founding Vice-Chancellor, RV University, Bengaluru said, “Manual scavenging continues in many places including big cities. It is a barbaric practice and is an affront to human dignity. Mr. Bezwada Wilson has been waging a relentless crusade for many decades to help manual scavengers reclaim dignity and all cherished human rights. He has been working tirelessly to change the lives of thousands of marginalized, dispossessed, socially oppressed sections of our society. We are honored to have him inaugurate this Centre and address our students and faculty. All of us must contribute in this effort”.
In his Presidential Address, Trustee, RSST, Mr. A C Chandrashekar Raju exhorted the youth to honour Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy by practicing his values. He said “India is the youngest country in the world in terms of demographics, and it is the responsibility of the youth to preserve and protect the memory of Gandhi, his ethics and value systems that formed his entire life. Material values can give us all something that can last for some time, but ethical values outlast everything and everyone, even after they are gone. Speak the truth and always be honest, as this will fetch you goodwill and respect in society“.
RV University, the new age, global university for liberal education inaugurated the Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Contemporary Ethics (MGCCE) on occasion of Gandhi Jayanti. To shape the thoughts and opinions of the student community inside and outside the campus, University will host highly eminent personalities who lead a Gandhian way of life. MGCCE is established with an aim to address contemporary issues in our society and inspire young minds to embrace the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. Events conducted on behalf of the Centre will focus on contemporary challenges like policies of the state, international relationships, and the role of non-violence in the current society and will feature individuals who abide by the Gandhian principles in life.
On the launch of the Centre, Prof. V Krishnappa, Executive Director of the MGCCE said: “We live in a world of accelerated change posing a number of ethical challenges as never before in human history. Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Contemporary Ethics has for its principal goal educating young citizens preparing them to flourish in their work. This initiative seeks to train young persons to cope with the ethical challenges of today and engage with the world with empathy and care informed by Gandhi’s teachings”.
With over 80 years of enviable legacy, RV University began its first academic year in September 2021. The University is committed to liberal education and technologically driven to cater to the fast evolving needs of the current generation of students.