Mission To Moon

What about Manual Scavenging?


The moment the India’s spaceship Chandrayaan-3 landed on the moon at its south pole, streams of patriotism flowed across cities accompanied by slogans like Jayaho Bharath! Jayaho Chandrayaan! Mera Bharath Mahan! Vande Mataram! And so on. Before the space ship was put on the rocket, the space scientists took its specimen and kept it in front of ‘Lord’ Venkateswara of Tirupati and ‘Goddess’ Chengala-mma of Sullurpet and prayed that the spaceship should land without any obstacles. That was the confidence of those scientists in their science. Jayaho scientists of India! After the space ship was launched from the space centre, there have been Hindu rituals like worships and yagas! TV debates! Stories in all newspapers! Editorials!

But no one pointed out the fact that landing on the moon is a kind of ‘business’ and some companies unhesitantly call it ‘space business’ and ‘space industry’. No one has talked about the fact that a 2-lakh kilos of space trash was accumulated on the surface of the moon due to the rockets, spaceships and satellites sent into the space by not only India but also America, Russia, China, Japan and some other countries. They do not utter a single word as to how that space trash makes the climate dangerous. Only few lovers of environment mention some facts here and there. According to such information, about 70 space ships were broken and scattered across the surface of the moon. Nearly 14 thousand broken parts of old rockets were lying there. Crores of space debris are floating near the earth. Most of the space junk is due to launching of space craft by America followed by Russia and China. This junk hits the newly arriving space ships and cause damage. According to one estimate at one point of time, many leftover urine collection kits and 96 bags of poop (human excreta) were found on the moon, because humans (astronauts) are sent to the moon though for a few days. This means that the scientists had left their urine and poop on the surface of the moon! It was confirmed that those kits and bags were left by those astronauts sent in the space flight called Apollo. It is said that the American scientists are very keen to bring those bags of poop and examine if that substance underwent any changes.

Well, why countries like America, Russia, China, Japan and India are going to the moon? They will investigate whether there is water or not on the moon, what minerals are available there and then start businesses. Already, space business has been going on in the form of Satellites. For instance, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) signed business deals with 34 countries, made 342 satellites for those countries and launched them in the space. Recently, India signed 6 business agreements with 4 countries. According to the statement of the union minister for Space made in Rajya Sabha, India will get 132 million Euros (about Rs 1188 crores). What India got from the previous business deals is a different calculation.

As of now, according to one report, there are about 9 thousand Satellites belonging to various countries revolving in the space. It is possible to locate the military bases and installations of the enemy countries. Places of mineral deposits too can be identified. Internet connection can be secured with enormous speed through satellites than by means of cables.Thus there are so many technical advantages. In order to benefit from such advantages, Union Government of India spent about 2 crores of rupees during the past 15 years for launching Chandrayaan thrice: in 2008, 2019 and now in 2023. This amount is excluding the several lakhs of rupees paid as salaries to the scientists. Well, then, do you know how much was allotted to those who have no other means for their livelihood except manual scavenging ((holding human excreta in hands while cleaning the dry latrines)? According to the government’s figures, 550 crores have been allocated during the past 17 years towards ‘compensation’ in case of death during manual scavenging or ‘rehabilitation’ of those who quit that work which is legally banned but not implemented. The figures merely represent allocation but not actually released amounts which are very less. 2 thousand crores for ‘antarikshbharath’ (Space India) and 5 hundred crores for cleaning ‘Ashuddha Bharath’ (Unclean India)

Manual scavenging workers often lose their lives while removing the human excreta from out of the septic tanks and from out of the silted manholes. The Union minister for social justice has stated in the Rajya Sabha that about 400 manual scavenging workers lost their lives during the past 5 years: 2017-22. The ‘Safai KarmachariAndolan’ (SKA), which has ben struggling for the cause of manual scavengers in the country for the past 30 years, has contradicted the figures given by the minister and claimed many more deaths. The SKA is not making big demands before the government. It is merely asking to provide machinery that help the scavengers to clean septic tanks and manholes. The tragedy, however, is that it is again the scavenging-caste people alone will have to do the cleaning work even after the machines are provided. Narada Samhitha, a 2400 -year -old religious text mentions that the work of lifting human excreta must be done by the untouchables only. Even today, it is the people of the bottommost caste among the untouchables who are doing that work. Those who are little above in the hierarchy of Dalit families do not have marriage alliances with the scavenging families. This is another tragedy. This is what is called ‘ladder-like caste system’ (hierarchical society)!

Now, look at the moon! See urine kits and poop bags!



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Vol 56, No. 12, Sep 17 - 23, 2023