Bezwada Wilson

Scavengers of India – those who clean and dispose of human excreta, the most degrading and inhumane of occupations, whose lives are decided by the chance of their birth, often seen on roads carrying buckets on their heads, these people remain absent from our conscience. Wilson fights for the dignity and respect of thousands of manual scavengers in India, dignity, and respect which has eluded all their generations for ages. His first encounter with manual scavengers and their degrading occupation was in the Kolar Gold Fields in Tamil Nadu, which was filled with dry latrines for the mine workers, which, his parents and caste brethren used to clean every day. He then petitioned the mine management at Kolar to stop using dry latrines and providing jobs to those working as manual scavengers, which went grossly unnoticed. Undeterred, he sent proofs and evidence of the use of dry latrines, first to the mine management and then to newspapers, which was an embarrassment for the state government of the time. Today, a recipient of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award, Wilson has a life of 32 years of social activism behind him. He has vowed to make India free of manual scavenging. A battle yet to be won by him, but he is relentless and hasn’t given up!

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