ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Silencing Caste, Sanitising Oppression

Understanding Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

The Hindu notions of purity and pollution, inextricably linked with the caste system and the practice of untouchability, underlie the unsanitary practices in Indian society. These beliefs perpetuate the oppression of the "polluted castes," who are forced to undertake manual scavenging, unclog manholes and clean other people's filth. The availability of cheap Dalit labour to do these dehumanising jobs can be cited as one of the reasons why development of toilet facilities and a modern garbage and sewage management system have been neglected so far. As long as the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan attempts to delink the relationship between caste and sanitation, its lofty goal of cleaning India will remain unachievable.

The article is based on a presentation at a workshop on “Understanding ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’: Caste, Public Health, and the City” organised by Department of Gender Studies/School of Human Studies, Ambedkar University, Delhi, held on 24 and 25 February 2015. The author would like to specially thank the anonymous referee, who read the paper carefully, gave important suggestions and made useful comments, which helped him revisit the presentation in a new manner.Subhash Gatade ( is a journalist and writer based in Delhi.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

Pay INR 50.00

(Readers in India)

Pay $ 6.00

(Readers outside India)

Back to Top