Waste pickers of Maharashtra are in a celebratory mood. On August 27th, the Maharashtra Government finally conceded to their demand for inclusion under the centrally sponsored pre-matric scholarship scheme for children of those working in “unclean” occupations. It took ten long years for the UPA government to comprehend that waste pickers carried out their work handling garbage and unmentionable filth. Thereafter, it took the Maharashtra government 16 months to issue a resolution including children of waste pickers in the state. The children missed out on the scholarship last year.
Over 60,000 children across the state will now get Rs.1850 each year towards their education. Any parent with a school-going child knows that education is not cheap. Even the government school education structure is pyramidal because it assumes that children will drop out after class IV and VII. The participants worked out the education costs during the recent indefinite dharna by the Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP). The bare minimum costs for children studying in government schools came to Rs.4000 per annum excluding transport. This scholarship will contribute to the expenses in some measure.
KKPKP thanks all the activists, organisations, members of parliament and legislature and media representatives who expressed solidarity with the cause. Read an article about the victory.