BBC News – World Toilet Day: The lives of Indian sanitation workers

Sudharak Olwe has been documenting the lives of Mumbai’s sanitation workers for about two decades.

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India, 19 November 2019. The work, often in appalling conditions, is reserved for Scheduled Castes, officially designated groups of historically disadvantaged communities that live on the fringes of society.

And their lives remain substantially unchanged despite India’s overall economic, social and technological advancements. Olwe’s most recent photographs, commissioned by WaterAid, are shown as part of UN World Toilet Day 2019.

“Manual scavengers” from the Valmiki community remove excrement by hand from dry latrines in Amanganj, Panna, Madhya Pradesh. Betibai Valmiki says: “We are not allowed to drink tea in any restaurant here.

“Even if we go to one small tea-shop, we are served in disposable plastic glasses while others are served in regular tumblers.” Most of the women have asthma and malaria, but there is no healthcare and their wages are docked if they call in sick.

“What other option do we have?” she asks. “Even if we open a shop, no-one would buy from us because we are Valmikis.”

Santosh works in Amanganj with his wife and two sons. In 1992, he nearly drowned cleaning a septic tank with colleagues, one of whom died. It was much deeper than they had been told. But despite his eyes being permanently damaged, he has never received any compensation.

Printed on the back of his jacket are the words “Being Human”.

In Agra Mohalla, Panna Geeta Mattu, Sashi Balmeek and Raju Dumar work every day from 05:00 to 13:00 for 7,000 rupees a month.

“There is hardly any respect in it,” Geeta says. “We are treated so badly. It’s such a thankless job.”

In April last year, the Dom community on the outskirts of Thillai Gaon, Bihar, lost 10 houses and most of their cattle in a fire.
They work in nearby Sasaram but, having lost their ID and ration cards, received no help or compensation.

Meenadevi, 58, carries excrement from a Muslim neighbourhood in Rohtas. She started working as a manual scavenger 25 years ago with her mother-in-law.

“Initially, I used to feel nauseated,” she says. “I wasn’t ready and felt ashamed to work because of the stigma attached to it.

“But now I’m used to the foul smells. “Poverty leaves you with no option. “My mother-in-law died doing this job.

“She used to carry the sewage in tin cans. I did the same. “Now, we don’t use tin cans. Nonetheless, the same fate awaits me,”

To read the original articles and see the pictures:

The Tribune – 90% Sikh heritage sites located in Pakistan, says Indian-origin historian

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 23 November. Indian-origin British historian and author Bobby Singh Bansal, who is considered as an authority on Sikh heritage in Pakistan, has claimed that 90 per cent of the Sikh heritage sites are located in the country, mostly in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, as he underlined their potential to promote religious tourism.

Speaking at a guest talk titled ‘From Kartarpur to Khyber Pass’ at the Victoria Memorial Hall of Peshawar Museum on Friday, the UK-born historian took the audience on an interesting journey through a historic landscape dotted with Sikh era monuments, forts, battlefields, shrines, tombs, gurdwaras and havelies.

He said 90 per cent of the Sikh heritage sites are located in Pakistan. The KP province, which has the maximum number of such sites, has the potential to attract the Sikh community from across the globe.

Bansal, who is also a filmmaker, talked about Sikh personalities associated with the KP province, particularly General Hari Singh Nalwa and Akali Phoola Singh. Both died in KP and their tombs are there.

The ‘Jamrud Fort’ in Khyber district is a “goldmine” for attracting Sikh tourists because of the tomb of Nalwa there, he said. Nalwa was the commander-in-chief of the army of the Sikh Empire.

“He is one of the most revered personalities among the Sikhs and people from the community would want to visit his tomb. The love and association for Hari Singh Nalwa by Sikh community could be gauged from the fact that my own car number plate carry his name,” Bansal said.

If Pakistan allows Sikh diaspora to visit the cremation site and tomb of Nalwa, the community members from across the globe will rush to the site, he said.

He also highlighted other Sikh-era monuments, including the tomb of Akali Phoola Singh in Nowshera, the Balahisar Fort, Gor Ghattree, the Shabqadar Fort and the Bhai Biba Singh Gurdwara.

“These places should be on the Sikh tourist map of KP. This topic is of particular interest to the Sikh diaspora from around the world who would like to travel to KP and be part of organised tours to be able to view this shared heritage,” he said at the lecture organised by the KP Directorate of Archeology.

Bansal, who is also the director of the Sikh Heritage Foundation UK, narrated his experiences of visiting the KP province since 1980s and the subsequent research, which led him to visit and document all the Sikh monuments in KP from 2007 to 2019.

Bansal is the man behind Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s life-size statue that was unveiled at the Mai Jindan Haveli in the Lahore Fort on the occasion of 180th death anniversary of the legendary Sikh ruler in June. His father migrated to the UK from India in early 1960s.

Gentbrugge: Laan van Rode – Mathilde Pedestraat and Gent-Sint-Pieters

Sint-Pieters – Dampoort
Railway viaduct
10 November 2019

E17 and railway viaduct

Railway viaduct

Mathilde Pedestraat
10 November 2019

Sint-Eligiuskerk (church)

Private Street

11 November 2019

Intercity to Brussel via Aalst

I don’t know why I took two pictures of the same train

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Sikh Federation UK – Sikh Manifesto 2020-2025 gives notice to political parties and to those wanting to be elected as MPs

London – UK,  21 November 2019. “Millions of Sikhs across the world have in the last few weeks marked Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s 550th Parkash, the birth anniversary of the founder and first Sikh Guru.

He rejected all forms of discrimination and exploitation under any pretext and founded a new egalitarian social order. Equality for women, rejection of the caste system, respect for diversity while seeing God in all.”

These are the opening words of the Sikh Manifesto 2020-2025 that has been developed by Sikh activists while living out what Guru Nanak Dev Ji taught us about achieving a fair, just and thriving society for all.

The Sikh Manifesto sets out critical issues raised by members of the British Sikh community that will help raise awareness with political parties and those hoping to be elected as MPs on 12 December 2019.

It is an invaluable reference document that will be used not only in the next few weeks, but over the next five years to monitor progress and judge the performance of MPs and the next UK Government.

The Sikh Manifesto is about empowering the UK Sikh community to engage with the UK political system.

The Sikh Network will continue to monitor progress against the Sikh Manifesto over the next five years and discuss and agree changes in strategy and approach to help deliver against the issues set out.

The Sikh Federation (UK) will lead on lobbying and engagement with the mainstream media and government on many of these issues. The Sikh Manifesto will test the commitment of the main political parties and individual politicians to the British Sikh community.

The ten-point Sikh Manifesto is unlike the manifestos of the political parties. All Sikh organisations can relate to all or part of the Sikh Manifesto as a briefing document. It is based on the widest possible consensus and collates the most important areas in which challenges remain for British Sikhs and where progress is required.

The first Sikh Manifesto 2015-2020 was widely viewed as a crucial development reflecting the political maturity of British Sikhs.

This second Sikh Manifesto demonstrates a broadening of our reach, in terms of the influencing and lobbying of those in power and a deepening of our roots, in terms of coverage of the grassroot issues of importance to Sikhs.

Much progress has been achieved since the publication of the first Sikh Manifesto. The manifesto reflects issues of importance to the Sikh community that politicians need to understand and act upon.

Three new sections have been introduced in the refreshed Sikh Manifesto – Sections 4, 6 and 7 that expose hate crime, discrimination and human rights violations. Seven of the ten sections in the first Sikh Manifesto have been refreshed to reflect developments in the last five years and continue to be priorities to achieve or work towards.

Individual Sikhs, Gurdwara management committees and Sikh organisation representatives are encouraged to read and understand the Sikh Manifesto. The aim should be to discuss each of the sections directly with their Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) from each of the main political parties.

PPCs are being asked to confirm in writing, public statements and video messages on social media their commitment to support the Sikh Manifesto in general and specific sections if they wish to secure Sikh votes. This will allow progress to be discussed and tracked with those elected as MPs.

The Electoral Commission has highlighted that Sikhs participate in the British voting process more than most other communities.

However, to make the Sikh vote count Sikh voters are being encouraged to bear in mind the prior commitment of the party or the candidate to the issues and concerns raised by the Sikh community through the Sikh Manifesto.

150 constituencies that have 1,000 or more Sikh constituents have been pinpointed. Those elected in these constituencies are expected to ensure all issues important to the British Sikh community, as set out in this Sikh Manifesto, are raised and acted upon.

A balanced scorecard has been developed and will be used to objectively judge the performance of MPs elected in each of these constituencies.

Harnek Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

Jas Singh
The Sikh Network Press Office

Posted by: sikh federation <>

Click to access The-Sikh-Manifesto-2020-2025.pdf

The Hindu – Devendra Fadnavis takes oath as Maharashtra CM, Ajit Pawar as Deputy CM

As of Friday night, Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray was poised to be the State’s CM

Alok Deshpande

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India, 23 November 2019. In an unexpected turn of events, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Devendra Fadnavis and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar took oath as Maharashtra Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister respectively in Raj Bhavan on Saturday morning.

The move has come as a total shock in the State as a meeting of all three parties on Friday night had unanimously agreed to make Shiv sena chief Uddhav Thackeray as the leader of the new government.

“The State is suffering from farmer problems. The instability in the State is not good for the development of the State. It was important to form the government. Ajit dada came with us and we approached the Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and claimed to form the government.

The President’s rule was removed and we decided to take oath today itself,” said Mr. Fadnavis, while talking to news agency ANI at Raj Bhavan.

More background information tomorrow
Man in Blue