Dr. Ambedkar International Mission organised the screening of ‘Son of a Sweeper’ (2020), a documentary film made by Lisa Mills, on Sunday, September 10 in New Jersey. The film is based on the life of Vimal Kumar and his work for the sweeping community.
Kumar, who was present at the screening, leads the organisation called the Movement for Scavenger Community (MSC), which was founded in 2009. The organisation devotes itself to the social and economic empowerment of the scavenger community through the medium of education and by connecting engaged actors across the country and beyond. Kumar holds a PhD from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
The film screening was attended by Ambedkarite research scholars, professionals and practitioners. The 28-minute documentary gives a deeper insight into the pathetic condition and sufferings of the sanitation workers and manual scavengers and the human rights violations in their everyday life.
In the pre- and post-screening discussion, Kumar spoke about his life journey and the work he started for the community. While responding to one of the questions he said, “I believe we have to break the cycle of manual scavenger occupation where generations have been in the same profession with multiple problems. To break that cycle we need to provide education to the children of those in manual scavenging. I have started this movement to work at the grassroots with children, providing them hope they can become doctors, engineers, and entrepreneurs who can travel abroad and will not get into sanitation work.”
Kumar chose his path with the unique methodology of working with the younger generation to break the cycle that produces caste-based manual scavengers in society. However, the discussants also deliberated on the micro and macro level interventions where policy-level advocacy is considered an important aspect and the need to explore it by individuals and organisations.
The hosts Milind Awsarmol and Nandita Awasarmol made all the arrangements for the participants; Nitin Suryatale along with his team coordinated the event; and Nilesh Meshram anchored the screening as well as took care of logistics with the support of Awsarmols.
The AIM USA was formed in 2003 under the leadership of the late Raju Kamble to work on the philosophy of Dr. BR Ambedkar and to pay back to society.