INDIA: The Bunker Broom

To India's 56 million untouchables, the badge of their social inferiority is often the implement of their trade—a handleless broom made by binding together a bundle of twigs. Stooped over this broom, the lowly outcast daily sweeps India's streets and village squares, its courtyards and bedrooms. Not only does this lead to agonizing backaches, spinal curvature and a characteristic cringing posture, but also years of inhaling the clouds of dust stirred up contribute to an alarming pulmonary tuberculosis rate. Yet generations of foreign travelers, "asking why India's sweepers do not use a stand-up broom with a handle, have invariably...

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