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No Swachh Bharat possible till people own up responsibility for implementing cleanliness

Swachh Bharat

By Nithin Sridhar

Ever since, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared Swachh Bharat Mission, cleanliness has remained one of the important focus of NDA government. Many people have taken the initiative and led cleanliness campaigns across the nation. Yet, it appears that the mission has, at least till now, failed to create any positive impact on the minds of the majority of people, who appear to continue to indulge in their unhygienic and unclean practices.

Mahamana express reduced to littering ground

This fact was clearly demonstrated in the way people conducted themselves while travelling in the newly rolled out Mahamana express connecting Delhi to Varanasi. Narendra Modi had flagged off the train on January 22, and within days, images of dirty and unkempt interiors of the train began to be circulated in social media.

The images revealed how floors of different coaches were littered badly- with empty groundnut shells, food packets, and newspapers; how newspapers and empty bottles were left on the seats; how clogged wash basins full of dirty water was left as it is; and how beer bottles were discarded in the coaches.

The incident is highly disturbing and the fact that the train passengers could not even adhere to few basic hygienic practices during a 14-hour travel, reveals how deeply has uncleanliness made home in the psyche of the people. The incident is also testimony to the fact that people have no care or respect towards public property and facilities that are being made available for common people.

Unclean thoughts lead to unclean actions

This apathy towards the sanctity of the public property is largely rooted in the thought-process of the people who presume, they can do anything within trains, because they have paid for the tickets. Add to this, the fact that there is no penalization for indulging in unclean actions and even penalized actions like smoking in trains are rarely implemented. Another common excuse forwarded is that they simply followed what others were doing. Thus, some Mr. X smoked, so I also smoked; some Mr. Y threw litter, so I also threw litter on the floor.

Unless this mentality and thought process of people is transformed, no Swacch Bharat missions will become successful. This unclean behavior, which has become an integral and inseparable part of many people’s lives, is the root cause of all hygienic and cleanliness related issues.

Sensitizing people about the importance of cleanliness

People must be sensitized towards the importance of cultivating hygienic practices, which includes keeping one’s body as well as one’s surroundings clean. More importantly, people must be encouraged to cultivate clean behavior and own up their actions without trying to put forward excuses.

They must also be sensitized towards the fact that public facilities are provided for the use of common people. If people themselves misuse it and damage it, then the loss is again to people itself. After all, public properties are built using tax payers money.

Cleanliness leads to Godliness

Though, this task of sensitizing the public is gargantuan, it is not impossible. India has a very long cultural and religious tradition that actually considers cleanliness as one of the central tenets of sacred and secular life. We find Hindu scriptures counting ‘Soucha’- cleanliness of mind, body, and surroundings- as one of the basic universal duties of humans.

Therefore, the need of the hour is to reconnect people with their own spiritual and cultural heritage, so that their minds can be imprinted with the outlook that cleanliness is a sacred duty that every person is obligated to follow, because cleanliness leads one to Godliness.

Goddess Swachhnarayani

It may be asked whether this approach will really bear results, or whether it is even practical. Thankfully, we have at least one campaign on these lines, which clearly demonstrates the success of the approach.

Manushi Trust has been working for the cause of street vendors since 1997. They have developed Sewa Nagar in Delhi as a model market for street vendors. Among the many issues they faced, was the lack of awareness and respect towards cleanliness among the street vendors.

Realizing that to truly create awareness about cleanliness, these street vendors must be made to internalize the importance of cleanliness and imbibe cleanliness as a necessary discipline. To achieve this, Manushi first started ‘Jhadu Worship- the worship of broomsticks and later in 2005 installed the idol of ‘Goddess Swachhnarayani’ holding a Jhadu (broomstick) in Sewa Nagar. This initiative ensured that cleanliness was absorbed by the street vendors as a sacred duty that all were obliged to adhere to with devotion.

Similar innovative measures that would sensitize people about cleanliness by connecting them with their cultural roots could be replicated across the country.

Practical habits to inculcate while traveling

Now, returning back to the issue of traveling in trains. Lack of cleanliness has been one of the long-standing issues of Indian trains. Every person complains about it, but nobody seems to do anything about it. Here are the few habits, if inculcated by the passengers, it will go a long way in keeping the trains clean:

  1. Every passenger must carry 2-3 spare polythene covers with him/her so that in case they need to throw any cups, empty groundnut shells, or any such small size litter, they could put them into those covers. The covers can be later thrown into dustbins.
  2. Passengers must inculcate the practice of always throwing food packets, empty water bottles, and other large size litters into the dustbins present in the coaches, thus keeping the floors clean. Passengers should also avoid leaving back their newspapers and bottles behind on their seats. They should either throw them into dustbins or take them with them.
  3. Toilets and Washbasins must be used properly. Passengers should avoid throwing bubble bums, paper napkins, bottles, etc. into wash basins and/or toilets that may cause clogging. They must also flush the toilets properly.

These simple basic hygienic practices if implemented by all passengers will keep the trains litter-free. (Photo Credit: Twitter)

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  • Rakesh Manchanda

    This tile has a traditional blame tag in India-Africa with the onus been shifted to the Public.Without a sense of real ownership and without Swaraj it will never work as the people keep their personal space extra clean and except the tax collecting sarker to the needful.

  • Rakesh Manchanda

    This tile has a traditional blame tag in India-Africa with the onus been shifted to the Public.Without a sense of real ownership and without Swaraj it will never work as the people keep their personal space extra clean and except the tax collecting sarker to the needful.

Next Story

Having a Tough Time Parenting? Know These Instances When You Need to Say No to Your Kids

Say no to your Kids
Say no to your kids when necessary. Pixabay.
  • Being a parent is not an easy task which comes along with a lot of responsibilities and commitments.
  • To add more, the toughest part of the job seems to be when you have a say no to your kids.
  • Although, sometimes you can be an engaging parent to your child into fun activities but ensure to say no to your kids in matters that concern health and morale of your kiddo.

The following are a few instances where you need to say no to your kids irrespective of their wishes and demands:

Going to bed and waking up on time

Say no to your kids
Say no to your kids for playing in the night and not sleeping. Pixabay.

You should be strict about deadlines for sleeping and form a proper routine for your kid—be it on school nights or holidays. You should convince yourself to say no to your kids and convey the importance of sleep with bedtime stories or healthy conversations. Afterall, we all know ‘Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise’.

Skipping meals

Ensure that your child consumes food at regular intervals. You should coax your child gently if your child denies eating certain meals. Say no to your kids to skip the morning breakfast. It forms the most important meal of the day that fills the body with required nutrition.

Overall hygiene

Say no your kids
Stress the importance of washing hands. Pixabay.

Healthy habits concerning hygiene and cleanliness should be inculcated to your child. Stress the importance of washing hands before and after meals and after using the toilets. Also, promote healthy eating by including nutrient-rich vegetables and fruits in your kid’s diet plan and say no to your kids to eat junk food.

Fewer video games, more exercise

Say no to your kids
Exercising should be given importance to kids. Pixabay.

Make a specific time for your child to use electronic devices or play video games. At the same time, encourage them to play outdoor games and take part in physical activity. Exercising will help in boosting immunity to fight infections. Say no to your kids over excessive playing with electronic devices.

No gadgets at mealtimes

Say no to your kids
Say no to your kids for junk food, instead add healthy snacks. Pixabay.

Healthy habits would make your child more active and happy. Say no to kids when it comes to watching television or the computer that will make your child lethargic. Introduce strict rules of not using gadgets at mealtimes.

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana