The death of sanitation workers in India, although outraging every time an incident is reported, is no rarity. Manual scavenging has been officially prohibited in many states, yet the inhuman and undignified practice continues due to both sheer apathy at the very basic level and lack of alternative and adequate technology. 34,859 is the staggering official number of manual scavengers that exist in states that have not illegalised this malpractice. As per reports, as much as 801 sanitation workers have died while cleaning sewers in the country since 1993. The intolerable stench and noxious fumes of putrescent waste is much too relatable; while it remains unthinkably possible to lower a human in a septic tank to clear out the hazardous sludge, the need of the hour is explained to be so pressing that the dignity of one willing human is readily sacrificed for the convenience of several others. Also Read – A compounding difficultyThere are largely two aspects to this predicament: the human aspect and the technical/functional aspect. As far as the human aspect of it goes, it is reflective of the social dilemma pertaining to tolerance and acceptance for certain things that clearly place some humans well below others. Engendering from caste system of olden times, the carry-over of some of its most objectionable practices to this day is manual scavenging. The life of manual scavengers is of stigma and exclusion. They remain at the fringe of society, only to become involved for what they do professionally– and without adequate returns and compensation. They are the modern-day untouchables because of the progress that 72-year old rising India has failed to make. Investing in technology to replace humans in such occupations ought to be an urgent priority. Providing sucking and jetting machines to municipal committees for cleaning septic tanks is a dire necessity. Some basic social and civic change towards separating garbage at home and follow-up measures of door-to-door garbage collection, providing better and more effective safety gears to safai karamcharis and good quality bags for transporting liquid waste are the most basic of measures that must be undertaken. The way to resolve the indignity of manual scavenging is a change in attitude before everything else so that a human is treated as a human before anything else.
TORONTO — Canada’s main stock index rose moderately Tuesday as investors awaited a highly-anticipated rate decision from the Bank of Canada.The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index climbed 43.86 points to 15,149.14, helped by gains in the metals, energy and material sectors.Bank and insurance stocks, which mostly benefit in a higher-interest rate environment, also finished the session ahead.In currencies, the Canadian dollar dipped 0.19 of a U.S. cent to an average trading price of 77.40 cents US.All eyes will be on the loonie Wednesday as expectations run high that Canada’s central bank will raise its key interest rate for the first time in nearly seven years amid signs of an economic recovery.Speculation has been swirling for several weeks amid repeated hints from Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz that Canada’s economy has strengthened sufficiently following a crash in oil prices.The Canadian dollar climbed quickly as a result last week, but has since pulled back slightly in the past two days.Peggy Bowie, a senior trader at Manulife Asset Management, says if the rate hike happens as anticipated, the loonie will likely “see some sideways action” because expectations have already been baked in.Otherwise, for the news to have a dramatic impact on the dollar, investors will have to be surprised by either a larger-than-expected rate increase or no increase at all.“There is a feeling that Poloz will follow what is going on with the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England,” she said. “A rate hike here isn’t going to cramp the growth that has been happening.”Bowie says the markets will be particularly interested in the governor’s remarks following the announcement to see if there will be any hints about the future pace of increases.South of the border, markets were in a wait-and-see mode as Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen is scheduled to address Congress on Wednesday and Thursday. Investors will look for clues as to how aggressively the Fed will continue to raise rates and start to unwind its big bond-buying program.In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average saw an uptick of 0.55 of a point to 21,409.07, the S&P 500 index shed 1.9 points to 2,425.53, and the Nasdaq composite index climbed 16.91 points to 6,193.30.Commodities were higher with the August crude contract up 64 cents to US$45.04 per barrel and the August natural gas contract ahead 12 cents to US$3.05 per mmBTU.The August gold contract gained $1.50 to US$1,214.70 an ounce and the September copper contract was up two cents at US$2.67 a pound.— With files from The Associated PressFollow @LindaNguyenTO on Twitter.