Swachhata has become the buzz word in India ever since 4 years. Swachhata is not just about Cleanliness, it entails purity of body, mind and behaviour.
The very ancient Sanskrit term ‘Shoucham’ has been used extensively in the Bhagvad Gita. It also implies purity of body, mind and behaviour. It includes Total Swachhata and pertains to health and the environment.
Cleanliness is not only a part of education – it is a condition of living and part of our core culture. It starts from home. It involves an attitude of cleanliness among one and everyone. We students must cultivate cleanliness from a young age.
Cleanliness implies maintaining good health, ensuring that both personal and environmental hygiene practices are followed. Simply put, it means being clean.
There are 5 levels in Swachhata/Cleanliness:
Environmental Cleanliness: The environment around us must be clean if we are to remain healthy and lead a happy and peaceful life.
Physical Cleanliness: We must bathe everyday (twice in summer) and wear clean clothes. We become energetic and fresh after a bath. Our power of concentration improves and we are able to grasp concepts in school better. Cleanliness in Speech: We must be decent and polite while speaking to others and accord respect to the persons whom we are interacting with.
Cleanliness of the Mind: It is not enough if we have the above three aspects. We should also have a clean mind and ignore dirty thoughts which enter our mind.
Cleanliness in Public Life: This is another dimension to cleanliness. Politicians must ensure that they have a clean image as their speech and actions influence the masses. Students, who are future leaders of the country, must act as watchdogs of the deeds of politicians to make sure the latter lead an unblemished public life
Cleanliness is essential for healthy living. Cleanliness signifies that we are healthy in our behaviour. Cleanliness signifies that we are conscious about and care for the environment. Cleanliness indicates the way to live with nature and not against nature.
Maintaining good health essentially requires cleanliness of body. It is worth noting that dirt and disease always go together. Hence, for remaining healthy always, we must have a daily bath and must keep our body, clothes and surroundings clean. Cleanliness of the body helps to attain purity of mind. God dwells in a clean body with a clean mind. Hence, we say, Cleanliness is next to Godliness.
For convenience, we have readily moved towards ready-made and junk foods, so much so that children consider Swiggy, Zomato, etc. to be sources of food. Cleanliness is essential for healthy living and good health is an outcome of our good food habits.
To sustain cleanliness, we need lots of clean water. Due to scarcity of water created by our own greed, we are now forced to live an unhealthy life. Many people do not bathe everyday and they counter stinking smells with deodorants.
Since we get processed water from reserved stores, we are forced to pay for it. However, we never think that poor people, birds, animals and even plants and trees around need clean water. If we do not work on the idea of ‘Free and Clean Water for All’, we will fail to solve the water problem. The ecological balance must be maintained if humanity and other creatures have to survive.
There is growing realization among several advanced countries that dams are not the lasting solution to the water problem; over the past more than two decades, more than 5000 small dams have been removed from rivers in Finland, Spain, Sweden U.K., and France. (Source: Dam Removal Europe). According to Dam Removal Europe, there are social, political, economic and environmental factors related to dam removal.
Human societies are struggling to supply clean water to the increasing populations, without affecting the ecosystem. Climate change is escalating this challenge as droughts increase in both severity and frequency in most parts of the world, resulting in deficient water supply.
Furthermore, the extensive use of the non-degradable plastic; air, sound and water pollution; haphazard and mindless building and factory constructions (along with toxic emissions), without concern for the necessity of green areas have been instrumental in India becoming one of the most polluted countries in the world.
We must remember that Cleanliness was the core culture of our nation. We never used to eat without having our bath in the morning and without washing our hands. Due to military and cultural invasions over the past 1000 years of India’s existence, behavioural changes in attitudes and habits took place, which negated our very spiritual and scientific way of life. This resulted in unhealthy and unhygienic practices, giving rise to disease and misery.
For example, around 50 years ago, we used to drink water directly from rivers. That was the time when there were no man-made toilets. We were so much nature-friendly that clean water was available not only for human consumption, but also for all creatures.
A series of measures will have to be taken to restore the ecological balance in the world especially in third world countries like India, due to which Cleanliness has been affected. Example: Deforestation has led to depleted rainfall in a predominantly agricultural country like India. Water has been diverted to other areas by politicians to their constituencies. With scarcity of water, there are a number of cascading effects like shortage of good drinking water, leading to water borne ailments.
Students have to come together and become a pressure group on the Government, industry, builders’ lobby and politicians to force them to take measures which will act in favour of a healthy environment conducive for good living. They should not rely only on the Government to solve the problems – they must become a force to reckon with.
We should go back to our roots and explore how we used to live in harmony with nature. The Swachhata Abhiyaan, a Central Government initiative has evolved into a nation-wide movement and it is the national duty of one and all to support it. In particular, students must take the lead in their own schools, neighbourhood, in villages and cities and ensure increased awareness among people. They must set an example to family members and elders and bring home to the public the significance that Cleanliness is the need of the hour for a healthy and prosperous Nation.
B.E. Mech. [COEP], P.G.D. – International Trade [IIFT, New Delhi]
Alumnus – Loyola High School, Pune; Fergusson College, Pune
Alumnus – College of Engineering, Pune (COEP)
Alumnus – Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, New Delhi
Author – ‘World Famous Indian Scientists’
Managing Editor: ‘Education Today & Tomorrow’
US Higher Education Counsellor for Statements of Purpose (SOP)
Editor: ‘Dharma Unfolded’ & ‘Education – Gurukul v/s Colonial – Pros and Cons’