Most of us are so self-centred, we take all the people providing us various services, for granted. One such group is the group of Pourakarmikas or municipal sweepers. Think what would happen if these people went on strike! Think of the garbage that many citizens throw on the road, into empty sites and at corners of pavements. Non-segregated, stinking garbage. Plastic bags torn up by street dogs and garbage strewn all over. Yet, we do not spare a thought for these poor workers performing a thankless task, and often abuse them.
In an effort to sensitise the next generation to these matters, the Children’s Movement for Civic Awareness (CMCA) and its member civic clubs across Bangalore schools observe ‘Pourakarmika Week’ from 6th to 13th September this year.
The members of Unique Civic Club, VET school, JP Nagar observed this day on Saturday, Sept 4th 2010. The school principal Indira Nair addressed the school assembly and spoke about the CMCA civic club observing Pourakarmika Day, and the significance of this day for each of the students and staff gathered there, as well as their families. She briefly touched on the importance of generating less waste by re-using or recycling, and proper disposal of the waste by handing it over to the pourakarmika.
The civic club member students then walked to the local BBMP office where 30 pourakarmikas and their supervisor had gathered, and with a few words of appreciation and gratitude, the president of the club Megha B handed over a hand-made appreciation card in Kannada. Then each club member handed over a gift packet to a pourakarmika. The children had raised the money for the gifts by selling old newspapers.
Some students interviewed the pourakarmikas to understand their lives. Rahul Desai, a 8th standard student spoke to Sarojamma, a mother of nine, who has been working for many years with BBMP. He asked her about her difficulties, and what citizens can do to help. She replied, "Work is very hard, but we have to do it, we have no choice, to earn. We face difficulties when people don’t hand over the waste to us when we go door-to-door and throw it on the road or in corner sites. We get scolded by our supervisors saying we are not doing our work." Sarojamma had a request for the public, "Firstly, don’t waste so much. Then, collect and separate the waste, and please hand it to us. Don’t litter on the road and pavement."
This interaction had a deep effect on the children, who now appreciate the difficulties of workers providing them a clean neighbourhood. They have vowed to carry this forward with campaigns in the neighbourhood and school, and do their bit to change their city.
Radhika Raj Narayan is a resident of JP Nagar, musician, co-founder of Radel Electronics and CMCA volunteer.
Wisdom Public School, BTM Layout I stage celebrated Pourakarmika Day on Monday September 7th. The students took active part in the function and thanked the neighbourhood Pourakarmikas for their contribution to the society. The children recited a poem praising them, and the Pourakarmika were quite happy about it. Fayaz, a student told the BBMP workers that they will help them by not littering the streets. The Pourakarmikas responded that littering is the main problem that they are facing, "we clean the roads and very soon the roads gets dirty… If all children like you help us, then our job will be done easily"
It was a good initiative to acknowledge the Pourakarmikas work and make them feel proud that they are also contributing to make the city clean.
Kavitha Rajmohan is a homemaker and volunteers with CMCA.