Meet the Swachh Bharat footsoldiers who clean where Mahatma Gandhi once walked

Meet the Swachh Bharat footsoldiers who clean where Mahatma Gandhi once walked

Gandhi Jayanti 2018: As the nation marks the Mahatma’s 150th birth anniversary on October 2, Rinku remains one of the countless footsoldiers on the ground of Swachh Bharat, the flagship initiative launched on Gandhi Jayanti four years ago. The initiative aims at turning Gandhi’s vision of cleanliness into reality.

Rinku Das, 42, has been working as a cleaner for the past ten years at Hyderi Manzil in Kolkata’s Beliaghata, the place where Mahatma Gandhi stayed in the countdown to Independence. Rinku’s eight-hour work, which starts at 10 am, includes dusting the exhibit cases, sweeping and mopping the eight rooms and tending to the garden once a week. For this, she earns Rs 3,000 every month. (Express photo by Partha Paul)

READ | ‘I have been called a sweeper, it hurts… this is a temple, I am doing God’s work’

Urmila was hired as a contract worker in 2010, three months after her husband, Surender Kumar, found work at Gandhi Smriti. Surender is from the Lohar community, and has never worked as a cleaner. Now, he cleans the neighbourhood he lives in, even trying to maintain a plot of government land that has turned into a garbage dump. (Express photo by Abhinav Saha)

READ | Mahatma Swachh Bharat: Where his journey ended, a new beginning for her — every day

Pushpamma Dasan, 52, temporary cleaner at the Vaikom Mahadeva temple in Kerala, joined the thin staff of cleaners, five years ago. Dasan works in two shifts every day which is 3.45-4.30 am and 7.30 am-4 pm with no off. Her monthly wage is Rs 9,000. (Express photo by Vignesh Krishnamoorthy)

READ | ‘I have work to do… I keep the temple clean, I keep my house clean’

Parashuram Gangaram Sungar, 70, has been cleaning the “Congress Well Park” in Karnataka's Belagavi since 2002, earlier known as Belgaum, which now includes a small, a museum centre showcasing photographs from the life of Gandhi and the event. His work which starts at 9:30 am and finishes by 6 in the evening earns him a monthly salary of Rs 10,000. (Express photo)

READ | ‘Born in year Gandhi died… cleaning all my life’

Ram’s work place is Motihari Railway Station in Bihar where, on April 15, 1917, Gandhi stepped off a train in Champaran to be met by thousands of aggrieved indigo farmers, setting off a series of events which would lead him to stay in the area for several months, be arrested, fight for their rights, and launch the Champaran Satyagraha. (Express Photo by Aksh Rahul)

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Inside the Gandhi haveli, renovated in 1950 and named Kirtimandir, the cleaning is handled by safai kamdars employed by a management committee. Outside, it’s Gitaben’s domain, with six green square boxes to segregate waste on her iron cart — plastic, paper, dust, cow dung, and more. “I have been sweeping this road for the last 20 years. My mother-in-law brought me here for the first time, when I was married for two years,” she says.

READ Meet Gitaben, she keeps Mahatma Gandhi’s birthplace Swachh for Bharat, daily