Mumbai, July 7: 36-year old Sunil Yadav is a worker at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in Mumbai. He is a garbage collector. But here's the catch-he also has multiple degrees to boast of.
Between 2005 and 2014, Yadav completed his BCom, BA in journalism, MA in Globalisation and Labour, Masters in Social Work and is currently pursuing M Phil at the reputed Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
Unlike his fellow workers, it was his zeal to make his dream for education come true that led him to the goal.
"I got down into a drain on my first day of work. For days after that, the smell didn't leave my mind. I walked through water with dead animals. That's when I decided I had to study and get out of this vicious cycle," Yadav recalled.
He further said,"We were born as scavengers. Right from our birth we have been slaves. We never really had any rights. We are trying to get out of it, and there is only one way to do that. Baba Saheb Ambedkar said 'if you study, you will grow', but people still don't accept us."
Yadav inherited the job from his forefathers. Speaking of the social reservations and the way Dalits are being discriminated, Yadav said,"Not every Dalit is a scavenger, but every scavenger is a Dalit. There is 100 per cent reservation in that category".
Speaking of the hardship that he has endured to fund his education, Yadav said,"I worked in the night from 9 pm to 2 am and studied during the day and even though BMC rules state I am entitled to a study leave, it took me 18 months to get it approved."
Yadav also encouraged his wife to complete her graduation after marriage. His wife Sanjana said,"He has always been very supportive. He told me to complete my graduation and explained that society will respect me only if I was educated."
Despite the Parliament's billon stopping manual scavanging, India seems to be way behind achieving its target. Bezwada Wilson, National Convenor of the Safai Karamchari Andolan said,"A new act has come in 2013, two years have gone, and we have not prosecuted even a single person across the country. So, when the law is not working, the bureaucrats are not working, when political will is not there, when the society is not sensitive, where is the question that we can achieve our target?"