Modi Pays Tribute to Sanitation Workers After Five Years of Ignoring Them -Rejimon K
Government documents and budget data reveal that the prime minister's feet-washing act is just optics.
On Sunday, a video uploaded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his personal Twitter account showed him washing the feet of four safai karamacharis in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh.
Within two hours, 19,000 Twitter users had liked it, 7,200 had retweeted it and 1,700 had commented on the link. Uploading the video, Modi had tweeted that washing the feet of safai karmacharis constituted moments he will “cherish for his entire life!”
Is Modi expressing his heart’s truth when it comes to safai karamcharis? As the prime minister, does he really care for them?
Unfortunately, government documents and budget data reveal he doesn’t much.
Declining budget allocation
In the 2019-20 Interim Budget, the Modi government allotted just Rs 39.87 crore for five national commissions, including the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Backward Classes, as against the allocation of Rs 33.72 for 2018-19. Just Rs 9 crore has been set aside for the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis.
According to Indian Budget data, in 2018-19, when Rs 33.72 crore was allotted for all five commissions, only Rs 5.92 crore was set aside for the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis and in 2017-18, it was Rs 4.5 crore.
In a December 2018 Lok Sabha session, minister of state in the Ministry Of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi, had said that the socio-economic and caste census of 2011 had identified 1,80,657 households as dependent on manual scavengers across India.
In a bid to rehabilitate the identified manual scavengers and their dependents to alternate professions, in 2007 itself, the government of the time had launched a Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS).
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