July 21st, 2015
Sunil Yadav is a 36-year-old man who has four education degrees to his name. He is currently pursuing M.Phil from Tata Institute of Social Sciences. But the irony of the situation is that even after so many qualifications he works as garbage cleaner on the streets of Mumbai.
Sunil was a tenth pass student but at that time he couldn’t pass the SSC exam. So he started working as a share delivery boy before taking up the role of a security guard. It was only when his father’s health deteriorated that he got his father’s job in Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). He had to pay a bribe of Rs. 2,000/- to get that job. He was 25-year-old then.
Whenever he would get free from his work of garbage picking, he would give a look at the newspapers. One day he found an advertisement by Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU) in the newspaper. The advertisement offered an opportunity to students who had failed Class X to pursue a Bachelor’s degree. For this the students had to crack an entrance exam held by YCMOU. Sunil appeared for the exam and qualified with decent marks. He gives the credit of his qualification to his good general knowledge.
Sunil refers to his mother’s words when he talks about the importance of education in one’s life. Belonging to Dalit community, he had to fight against the injustices prevailing within of BMC. When he expressed his thoughts regarding his Masters course to BMC workers, they weren’t considerate enough to offer him paid study leaves. In the framework of BMC, the workers can get 24 months of study leave but as Sunil says, only bureaucrats received such benefits.
Sunil Yadav didn’t accept this indifference being forced upon him. He received support of his professors and colleagues at TISS, for his fight to avail study leaves. Although he didn’t get a break of 24 months, he got a chance to travel to Johannesburg for three months during his MA course. A Swiss development agency had provided him with this chance.
He has Bachelors’ Degrees in Commerce and Journalism, double Master’s degree in addition to a diploma in social work. He is currently pursuing his M.Phil studies. Sunil follows the path of Babasaheb Ambedkar who worked to diminish discrimination based on caste.
Sunil Yadav was never promoted to better positions in Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) even after being qualified enough for higher positions. Vacancies could be left unfilled but Sunil could never get a promotion.
He works on night shifts under BMC, cleaning the garbage on the roads. He lives in a small room in a chawl in Chembur with his wife and two daughters. Sunil’s family is very supportive of his education.
His fight for justice and equality isn’t over yet, as he continues to keep his faith in education. He believes that someday he would be weighted for his accomplishments rather than his caste.