‘Swachh Bharat’ Campaign: A Renaissance

Mythili Attavar

The Swachh Bharat Campaign could not have come a day sooner. The Prime Minister will launch the campaign and administer a Cleanliness Pledge on Gandhi Jayanti.
The clarion call issued by our PM is truly one of the most crucial things ever required by our country. As a nation, we are a people not very mindful of basic requirements for a better life like hygiene, safety, health etc. By nature we tend to bend rules with impunity, if not break the law. Simple things like waiting for our turn in queues are alien to us. Be it at traffic signals or in banks, bus stands, bill payment counters, or in petrol pumps or shops, we do not believe in waiting for our turn. We crowd over counters unmindful of those who have come in before us, waiting for them to be served. A patient queue waiting for a bus and breaking up the moment one arrives is a typical sight anywhere in our country. We are insensitive to the needs of others. Our needs, our requirements matter most to us. The rest can literally, go to hell.

While we are taught all the above things at home and in school, we fail to implement those very teachings in real life. What then is the good of all education, when all tenets, all doctrines go out the window the moment they need to be implemented?

Cleanliness is another major area where we need to improve. Spitting in public is our favourite pastime. Defecating and urinating in public is a common sight, although an insult to human dignity. True, adequate public conveniences need to be provided for the teeming millions. In the quest for development and growth, we seem to have lost our way while prioritizing our requirements. Swanky five star hotels and ritzy malls stand adjacent in stark contrast to filthy slums and abominable hutments devoid of sanitary facilities. We harbour the lopsided belief that having internet connections rather than water connections is the way to development.
Against the backdrop of the above, the ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign could not have come a day sooner. Cleanliness, as we all know, is next to Godliness. It is only when each one of us keeps our homes and surroundings clean that we can have a clean locality. The onus therefore is on each one of us to treat our surroundings as we treat our homes. Nobody would ever dream of dirtying our own walls or homes. Why do we then, treat our surroundings with such disdain and contempt?

While the obligation lies on each one of us, the Government does have an onerous responsibility. It has been seen that people at large do desire clean facilities and would cooperate in maintaining them. The Delhi Metro and Akshardham temples are examples. The Delhi Metro has not only changed the way we travel, rather it has changed our culture. The Metro trains and stations are well maintained by tireless efforts of Metro staff. Nonetheless, one does not see people smoking or spitting on stations, or consuming food and littering inside the trains. Legislation also acts as a deterrent, leading to a strong belief that retribution must be swift and harsh enough to discourage such undesirable practices.

A strict view needs to be taken of polluting industries that nonchalantly dump their effluents into open drains and canals, finding its way into our sacred rivers. Our water bodies, worshipped for centuries as Sustainers of Life, have been reduced to cesspools and gutters spreading disease all around. Our rivers need to be restored to their ancient, pristine glory.

A cue could be taken from the exemplary service done by Sulabh International the brainchild of Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak. Sulabh International is an India-based social service organization, dedicated to the cause of upholding human rights, environmental sanitation, non-conventional and non-polluting sources of energy, waste management and social reforms through education. A pioneer in social reforms especially in the field of sanitation and hygiene, Dr. Pathak’s life is driven by a mission: hygiene and human dignity.

Nearer home, the Association of Neighbourhood Ladies Get Together under the dynamic leadership of Mrs. Cicily Kodiyan has been indulging in yeoman service in its efforts to beautify and maintain our sub-city. It is through the unstinting efforts of such luminaries that objectives of such campaigns can be achieved. Let’s give such personalities a helping hand, in whatever way possible.

A clean nation is a healthy nation. And a healthy nation is a nation with more efficiency, competence, productivity. The Swachh Bharat campaign would be a rebirth, a resurgence, a new beginning, a revitalization of our standard of living. The roots of India’s Renaissance can be seen in this campaign.