Mulk Raj Anand, in his novel ‘Untouchable’ written in 1935 had opined the use of technology- like the usage of water closets and a drainage system to do away with many of the jobs that Dalits do. 70 years on, the situation has not changed dramatically.
While people will discuss about the 100 dollar laptop, no one will talk about simple technologies that impact those doing the most unproductive, if not filthy jobs.
It was this post by KA Muston writing at Daily Kos that led me to this observation- looking at technology from the point of view of the Dalit is something that is matter of fact for an American, not so for those writing on Dalits in India, from whatever perspective.
Each year about one hundred Dalit men across India die from breathing methane or drowning in filthy water. (There are no figures collected on the Dalit women who empty the thousands of village cesspits.) Worse, there is no count of the workers who die from respiratory diseases, urinary tract, skin and eye infections, gastrointestinal ailments and lung cancer. Fewer than 14% of them live to the age of 50. What a backward people the Indian people are. George Bush is right. We have a moral responsibility to deliver these people out of ignorance and into the enlightened path of democracy.
When they first built the London sewer (in the 1860’s) large metal balls just a few millimeters narrower than the diameter of the sewers were periodically fed through the brick tubes, driven by water current and driving all blockages before them. These balls are still used to maintain the sewers in London and Paris. Why couldn’t the people of New Deli (sic) (now Mumbai) have come up with a similar system? The answer is that in India people have always been cheaper than technology.