Ecstatic cheers and joyful laughter filled the air at the Mumbai campus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences recently as the 2014-2016 batch of MPhil students graduated from the prestigious institute.
The moment of celebration was sweeter still for Sunil Yadav, a sweeper with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
The 36 year-old, whose dissertation on ‘Globalisation and Labour’ helped him secure the seventh rank, works in the Nana Chowk area of Mumbai and wishes to continue with his job as a sweeper.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Yadav said “I am not going to leave this job. Rather I will continue to work for the BMC.”
“I am not interested in any corporate job. Instead, I want to empower my fraternity in understanding their rights and fight for it. I want to be the voice of the down-trodden to wipe out all sort of discrimination within the society.”
Yadav started working for the BMC quite early on: “I got the sweepers job on compensatory grounds as my father, a BMC employee, was declared medically unfit for the job. I was a 10th fail and my family was struggling to make ends meet,” he recounts.
Driven by the desire to learn, Yadav decided to pursue his education. Once he completed his SSC and his HSC, there was no stopping him. A BCom degree came next, followed by a BA in Journalism and a Masters in Social Work – all while still working with the BMC!
A proud MPhil graduate today, Yadav has now set his sights on a PhD: “I am elated on securing my MPhil. By doing PhD, I want to study the social system that has marginalised our (sweeper) class in the society.”
It has not been an easy journey. From dealing with the anti-social elements in his neighbourhood, to dealing with uncooperative seniors at his workplace, Yadav has had to overcome many obstacles to get where he is today.
It is heartening to see that despite the numerous problems that plague the father of two, Yadav shows no signs of stopping. His determination to educate himself to improve the lives of his colleagues is truly inspirational.