One of the first signs of a well managed place — whether it is a restaurant, hotel, airport, office or train station — is its level of cleanliness. If the place isn’t clean, it is unlikely to impress anyone. The same applies to an entire country. Indians who travel abroad are often awestruck by cleanliness levels in the developed world.
Therefore, if we want our country to realise its full potential in the world, we have to make it clean. A land of filth, no matter how talented its people and how wonderful its natural resources, will never earn the respect it deserves.
Perhaps this is a reason why the PM has taken on the Swachh Bharat mission with such gusto. Not only him, several other influencers and prominent people have lent a hand to the cause, often holding a broom along with it.
However, while the broom in hand does make a compelling photo-op and is well intentioned, it will take a lot more to clean India. If we are really serious about this, let us first figure out why we are dirty in the first place, and what it would take to have a cleaner India.
We are not dirty people. Indians keep their homes scrupulously clean. In many parts of India people do not wear shoes inside the house to keep interiors clean. Some of our religious places are kept clean (though there are exceptions, don’t even get me started on Varanasi and Mathura). Diwali, our biggest festival, is the time to spring clean. Indians are meticulous about taking a shower daily, which may not be as common in the West.
So why is our country dirty? Why is it when we step out of our homes, we will find the roadside littered? Is it the municipal corporation that isn’t doing its job? Is it the local politician who should ensure things are kept clean? Do we not have enough dustbins?
None of the above issues fully explain why India is unclean. The reason is that we make it dirty in the first place. And if we want truly to be a clean country we need to take steps to ensure we minimise filth in the first place, rather than hoping someone will pick up the broom and clean it. Developed countries in Western Europe and North America do not have local authorities sweeping the streets all the time. They have systems in place, and the local population cooperates to not create filth in the first place.
We on the other hand look at our country differently from our homes. Inside our houses, we want things to be spick and span. Outside the entrance door, it doesn’t matter. It isn’t mine. It’s dirty anyway and how does it matter if i dump some more litter on the streets?
With this mentality, you can have an army of municipal corporation workers working 24×7, a hundred celebrities sweeping the streets, the PM making a dozen speeches, i assure you, India will not become clean.
The only way it can and will become clean is if we minimise and prevent creating filth in the first place, and the only way that will happen is when all of us together think ‘what is outside my home is also mine’.
This sense of community, recognition of a greater good and collective ownership is the only way for the situation to change. Else, we risk this cleanliness drive becoming another social fad that will be forgotten when the novelty wears off.
Of course, infrastructure improvements such as new treatment plants for solid, sewage, industrial and agricultural waste are required. New sets of indices, whether they be measures of cleanliness or density of dustbin distribution, are needed too. Laws and fines have their place as well. All that is indeed the government’s job and they will be judged on it.
However, all this will come to naught if we Indians don’t change our mentality about what is my space and what isn’t. The country is yours. You obviously can’t clean all of it, but you can be aware of at least a little bit of area around you. If every Indian has a concept of ‘my 10 metres’, or a sense of ownership about a 10 metre radius around him or her, magic can happen. Ten metres is just 30 feet around you. Given the number of people we have, we can achieve a lot if we all get together.
So it should not just be ‘my home should be clean’, but ‘my home and surrounding 10 metres should be clean’.
Whenever there is a collective sense of ownership, we have higher cleanliness levels. It is for this reason most college campuses are cleaner than the city outside, despite housing thousands of youngsters inside.
So get out there, scan your 10 metres. Can you improve anything? A swachh Bharat is indeed possible. The first step is ‘swachh manasikta’ or clean mindsets. Are you game?
In the interests of full disclosure Prakash Javadekar, Union minister for information and broadcasting as well as for environment and forests, nominated me to help with the Swachh Bharat campaign. This column is one of my contributions towards the campaign. Opinions expressed, however, are independent and personal.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.
More from The Times of India
Recommended By Colombia
More from The Times of India
Recommended By Colombia
“The love for God is the love to protect the environment. Keep the environment clean and the waters clear as crystal.” ― Lailah Gifty Akita
All of us dream of clean surroundings, a cleaner way of life and clean drinking water. However, the question here is “How do we make this happen for all?” Cleanliness should be practiced not only at an individual level but built to a group level and finally extended to the masses. If we apply the rules of clean living to our day-to-day life and inculcate this habit in each person, we will be able to live the ‘Swachh Bharat’ dream.
Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) launched an initiative in line with the Indian Government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) named ‘Swachh Aadat, Swachh Bharat’ (SASB). This program was started to support and encourage good health and hygiene practices at an individual level which would eventually spread to larger masses. Keeping in mind the range of obstacles that one faces in India related to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), the program is an endeavor to help India realize the goals of Clean India Mission by 2019.
Swachh Aadat, Swachh Bharat is a behavior change program convening the efforts of some of HUL’s leading brands Lifebuoy, Domex and Pureit. While creating sanitation infrastructure towards an Open Defecation Free nation is a must, the role of Behaviour Change programmes to compliment it is as necessary.
This program emphasizes on bringing about change in basic behaviour and actions adoption of clean habits (Swachh Aadat) can lead to a clean India (Swachh Bharat). It asks people to begin with three basic habits:
Clean hands – washing hands using soap on key occasions (e.g post defecation)
Clean water – Adopt safe drinking water practices
Clean toilet – Using a toilet and keeping it clean
Domex Toilet Academy’s demand led model, Lifebuoy’s massive hand washing programme in rural India and Pureit’s endeavor to provide safe drinking water at affordable prices are important steps in making Swachh Bharat a reality,
While on ground programmes are important, the role of awareness generation is critical. In December 2015, the Haath, Munh, Bum film was launched a part of its mass media campaign and it reached out to more than 100 million people,The Haath, Munh, Bum film is aimed at children, the typical change agents in families. HUL intends to bring Haath Munh Bum on every Indian’s lips.. This timely video showcases the truth about the unhygienic practices that we have continued to practice and have led to us being unhealthy as a nation. Through this campaign, children propagate the three prime Swachh Aadats. Chant 'Haat Mooh aur Bum, Bimari Hogi Kam' while you watch this fun video:
So on this Swachh Bharat Divas, are you too working towards a clean, happy & healthy India?
This is a partnered post.
Published Date: Oct 01, 2016 23:28 PM | Updated Date: Oct 01, 2016 23:28 PM