Modiji’s clarion call for “Swacch Bharat” has deeper and more significant implications than merely being an initiative to beautify the country to attract tourists from all over the world. Even a dirtier Bharat has had million foot falls on her soil than a cleaner, more hygienic and upbeat India can ever compete or crave for. Then why a “Swacch Bharat”? The slogan raiser’s zealous drive towards nation’s image building is commendable provided its apathetic populace grasp the slogan’s true meaning and import.
A nation where cleanliness implies keeping your hearth spotless at the expense of other’s front or back yard, ‘swachhata‘ seems a distant ideology to imbue its denizens with the sensibility and the sensitivity towards a better, healthier and shinier India! However, it is a spectator’s delight to watch how the ‘abhiyaan’ has inspired collective effort and community programming which were hitherto totally missing in the Capital. Cosmopolitanization has robbed the populace of that deep rooted belongingness which propels them to think and do something worthwhile for their city. Strangely, we love to count the years we have been staying at a place. But do we ever for a moment ponder what we have done for that place in those so many years of our stay? The honest answer is a single no.
Urbanites are a busy lot managing their respective pigeon holes drawing lakshmanrekhas around thereby narrowing perceptions and performances further. My second floor neighbour has this habit of volleying garbage bags into the park fronting my flat. In the cold of Capital’s freezing winter, the lady of the house takes special pleasure in washing clothes in her verandah and putting them to dry on the clothesline without squeezing the excess water out. Resultantly, the clothes drip on my balcony and if we are (un)lucky enough to invariably get sprayed each time we walk out, it is our carelessness if we complaint or lack of humour if we to fail to enjoy the untimely shower.
While commuting to and fro office, it is a regular coincidence that the vehicle next to mine will be having at least one passenger (usually it is the driver) who will suddenly take a fancy to open the car door and spit on the road. Least can be said about the men lining the pavement they consider their birth right to wet. The idea of Public Convenience is lost on them. Why then accuse the rural habit of visiting the railway tracks early in the morning if the so-called educated urban dwellers do not feel one bit ashamed to relieve bladders in full view of a crowded road?
But the best is the time for spring cleaning. We completely forget that a healthy and hygienic surrounding is not just a topic confined to our eighth class Civics book, it is our duty to maintain the same in letter and spirit wherever we reside. Last Diwali, our RWA (Residents Welfare Association) took it upon themselves to clean the MCD parks dotting the Block. Amidst roaring slogans of ” na kuda daalengey na daalney dengey” ( neither will we dirty the place nor let others dirty it) full hearted efforts were made to tidy the Block. Surprisingly, by the end of the day, a broken sideboard surreptitiously found its way into the adjacent park . By whom and when had the (mis)deed been done was neither known nor disclosed. However, it was quite apparent that some family had found this extraordinary way of getting rid of household junk at the expense of the neighbourhood !!!
Our country is still in the making. So is the populace who not only needs a lesson or two in hygiene, civic sense and healthy cohabitation but also require to be strengthened of moral fiber. Habits are born out of sanskar and therefore die hard. It is our moral obligation to give to our environment as much as we get from it. Training imparted during the formative years holds us in good stead throughout life. We are a people who believe in Education. Children begin to be taught and groomed from tender age by the family and thereafter in school and college. Yet, the people of this bulging nation have remained uninitiated into the basics of good living. Is there any lacuna in the syllabi? Perhaps, yes because notwithstanding the schooling that we receive from the age of three plus till the late teens, our perpetual inability to transmute theoretical knowledge into practical application remains our undoing. We in school had these regular, weekly classes on SUPW – an acronym which expanded would stand for Socially Useful Productive Work – wherein we the girls had to learn sewing and the boys whiled time doing mischief. Never were we organized in groups to take practical lessons on being actually socially useful and productive within or outside the school premise. So, keeping the surrounding clean, planting trees, imbibing eco-friendly habits, taking part in community programs to develop the residential area could not take root in our scheme of things and thoughts because the lessons that are mugged up and not practised upon, do not stay for long in our minds.
It is perhaps this reason that we still need public awareness programs, large bill boards to drill in the dos and don’ts of hygiene, constant counseling on sanitation, workshops on the significance of being environment friendly, seminars and conferences to not to treat the city as an extended dump yard.
Fact also remains that we Indians are not a race dedicated to our soil unlike the Japanese. We love to be ignorant of rules. We love to be disobedient because in some insane way it makes us feel above the law of the land. We take pride in turning our faces to the other side when a fellow Indian knowingly soils the surrounds. We are self-centered and irresponsible with a “sanu kii farak paindaaye” mantra of life. In short, we are the quintessential Indians who are congenitally averse to being alert and disciplined. We are also the successor of a colonial past. And therefore we rather take up a sweeper’s job abroad than keep our own city clean.
In this national scenario, Modiji will a mere blood boiling speech be enough to inspire the nation to take up the broom and swipe away the generations of cobwebs which have not only settled in the nooks and corners of the cities and towns of India but also dug deep roots in our minds?