There has been a lot of talk for the past five years, and in the (still-running) sixth year about Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, started by the present government along with the bureaucracy‘s response and even controversies brought forward by the opposition related to the same. I had been thinking of expressing my views on this.
Sanitation has always been an important aspect of day-to-day life, according to the ancient Vedic heritage of India. Ancient Bharat (India) had been an important part of the Indus Valley Civilization, which has the history of being one of the most well-planned civilizations. However, now, the people of India need to be reminded of cleanliness and sanitation through governmental schemes. Does it not show the deterioration that we, as Indians, have gone through as a remarkable sign of evolution.
As we visit the houses in various parts of India it’s seen they are clean and tidy but the moment you step out of the homes it starts getting unclean, and the more you step into the locality it seems like civilization is dying. Why is it so? Are we responsible for the cleanliness only of our homes and can throw dirt and filth on the roads? Is it not the responsibility of every Indian to ensure cleanliness?
Indians, when they visit a foreign land, ensure that they throw filth in the proper dumping area. Then why don’t they do the same in India? Or, is it because this has become a habit and they think the whole of India is their home? It is painful to see that sanitation has been included as a project in India, whereas if it had been an important part of every individual’s regular life, then it would not have been required.
Changes do occur, but slowly, so until and unless we become responsible for taking care of both individual and environmental cleanliness, such projects can never work out to be successful. To clean the dump which we have ourselves built over the past 70 to 80 years, will take some time, and patience is the only key, along with our own urge, to make the change happen instead of just remaining as the audience, and clapping or criticising the project.
However, I feel that the positive aspect of this is seen in today’s children who have taken responsibility on their small shoulders, and try to ensure that cleanliness is maintained and that filth is discarded in respective dump areas.
But yes, it is painful to see that many people still don’t care about cleanliness. They bring out the politics from it and try to redefine the story of failure in their own words.
The question that arises here is, “Are they themselves taking proper care of their own health and environmental sanitation?” If they are, then who are the people who aren’t? It is a pain to see these projects coming up because we, as responsible individuals, don’t understand the importance of cleanliness in daily life.
“Do not disturb the sky and do not pollute the atmosphere,” the Yajur Veda (5:43) states.
In Manusmriti Chapter 4, verse 56, it says, “Let him not throw urine or faces into the water, nor saliva, nor clothes defiled by impure substances, nor any other impurity.”
Hence, since time immemorial, sanitation has been an important part of regular life, as also has been mentioned in Kautaliya’s Arthashastra. Waste management and defecation had protocols that were followed and maintained. Although they have proper latrines in their households they prefer to defecate in the open. The cause can be that they think that the pit will fill up, soon if they continuously use the latrine, and that would be impure to clean. Now, who is to educate them?
Further, the schemes under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan for the building of latrines in everyone’s household, although it has been a part of this project, the bureaucratic-tape related to the same hasn’t been less. There was news of low-standard latrines being built and ‘mugging‘ of the expenditure. So this again proves that some among us are not responsible or reliable.
Not only humans but the locality seems to vary for the animals too. The people residing in the posh areas in various parts of India walk their pets to the nearby so-called sub-standard locality for defecation. This is because those posh areas strictly prohibit animals from defecating there or there will be penalties. Hence, these rich brats take their animals to certain areas to defecate, and then, they speak of the filthiness of the area and unhygienic consequences of it. Aren’t they the culprits of this unsanitised environment in their locality too?
Things are getting better in the villages, but slowly. These schemes were invariably started by the previous governments as well, but the awareness was, somewhere, missing. A project can’t be successful only by the work of a single person, and it needs to be a team effort. If we think we aren’t a part of that herd, then it’s our mistake.
The duty of a citizen doesn’t end after choosing the government, but by working along with it. They are the initiators, and as dutiful citizens, it is our responsibility if we want the project to be successful. But until the time people get rid of cultural attitudes to community sanitation and hygiene, I feel India can never solve this problem.