The Garbage Trap


Article 47, Clause 4- Directive Principles of State Policy, Constituent of Free India

The above-mentioned clause is just a part of the Directive principles and therefore not justiciable in the Court of Law. However, is respect and dignity for all not a natural right and does it require the approval of chosen leaders in the Parliament to become a Law. In India, a person’s worth is associated with his or her caste. The best example is the historical injustice meted out to the Dalits.

I happened to hit back on an old video made on the condition of sanitary workers (belonging to the Dalit community)  in our country. Although the video is six years old, its relevance stands tall even today. You can check out this highly informative video here.

The documentary ‘The Garbage Trap’ is directed by Atul Pethe and it does an incredible job in waking up the general and so-called sanitised public to the miseries of the downtrodden caste. It demonstrates the horrific distinction made with respect to occupations according to the caste of a person.

The main theme of the movie was to unveil the sad and horrible plight of the lower castes who are ignored and abused since times immemorial. The central message conveyed was to exhibit the shallowness and non-implementation of various legal measures formulated for the safety and development of these people. The result of the failure of this legal machinery is stunted growth in terms of the dignity of life.

The documentary covered areas from the lives of manhole cleaners to road sweepers including the terrible condition of the Dalits all over. It displayed the realities of the loopholes identified in the management of the Pune Mahanagar Palika.

The workers work in the most unhygienic conditions without any protective gear. The medium used to communicate the emotions of this helpless population was through short interviews, surveys, ground research on their lives and so on. The burden of casteism that has stopped the intermingling of these people with the so-called religious, clean and upper caste is something that is brutal and completely unethical. Through this documentary, they want to make people aware of the distinction made and oppression caused.

Till today, even in urban areas, the work of cleaning the garbage, human excreta, scavenging is labelled as unclean and is always associated with the lower caste. They are not considered humans but as mere agents of disposing garbage. This is proved by the fact that the documentary used authentic pictures, working conditions and had captured the actual emotions of the people and the stigma attached to their identity through various interviews.

A major factor behind the continued abuse of their dignity is corruption within the Government. We as a society are stealing away their rights to a life of dignity, unaware of their painful sufferings. A mental bath is what is needed the most. Only when we change our mentality, will we be able to design the future course of action for the elimination of such outrageous social practices.

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