Thursday, August 31st, 2017

Clean India Campaign : Do We Really Need Inspiration To Be Clean???




What happened to the Swachh Bharat campaign? Are your cities much cleaner now thanks to the campaign ? Well mine certainly isn’t. Bombay or rather Mumbai as we’re forced to call it has seen no improvement. Remember all those photo ops with broomsticks? Young kids, teenagers, grandparents, celebs, corporates and so many more all donned smiley chirpy faces while they swept a few leaves. With so many happy faces wielding broomsticks, public sanitation almost seemed like the next best career choice. But what happened to it all?



It now seems like a half hearted attempt at organizing cleanliness on a grass root level, and more like a PR exercise, to enforce and strengthen an already established popularity of a party that had just swept the nation of its feet. And like the Ice bucket challenge, Gangnam style dance step, BBM, dubsmash posts and more such fads, the Swachh Bharat campaign seemed like something to be forgotten at least from the public gaze. At least the ice bucket challenge raised a considerable amount of funds. While a few interesting developments did come out of it like corporate pledges for construction of latrines, and better sanitation facilities, the greater failure must be borne by the public, us all.  Clean India campaign, whether meant to be an unofficial PR exercise or not, it certainly had great potential, but as mentioned the failure is in our hands for treating it like nothing more than a mere fad, with temporary participation for the time being, till it seemed passé. So here’s where we went wrong


Let’s not blame the government all the time!


Keeping the streets clean is also your responsibility and not fully in the hands of your civic body. What do we need to do? Stop throwing garbage. Hold on to your trash till you find a bin. If there aren’t any, take it home. If there are a lack of bins take it up with your local area citizen group. If we stopped littering at our convenience, your civic body would have no excuse. As citizens we need to uphold certain basic civic responsibility before we question the authorities.

Do we really need inspiration to be clean ???


It’s unfortunate that we need leadership and ‘iconic’ figures to ascertain a simple and instinctive fact that ‘garbage is dirty’. We don’t need a better education to help up see a difference between clean and dirty and we certainly don’t need any form of inspiration from reputed societal figures to change our ways towards a cleaner city. We don’t, but unfortunately that’s what happened. The fact that one needs inspiration to take up a matter of basic civic sense like cleanliness reflects poorly on the mentality of a community as a whole. What’s next? Do we need inspiration to take up a cause of blood donation? Or do we wait like children to be told by some leader, that ‘blood donation is good for you’.

Thank the Conservancy workers


While the campaign was launched with NDMC workers, not much or almost no importance was given to the sanitary workers, the unsung heroes who for centuries have been quietly toiling through piles of vomit inducing garbage for meager wages. Ideally, any campaign to drive cleanliness, whether government or community organized, should put them on a pedestal and  honour them for their quiet and humble efforts over the years. All said and done, words of praise and gratitude won’t put more food into their stomachs, they need more money. They need better wages.


The first objective of any cleanliness campaign needs to focus on them. At most times they work in hazardous conditions exposed to all sorts of dangers. A Marathi film ‘Court’ reflected on this sentiment. Watch it for a better perspective on what conditions sanitary workers live in.  Better work conditions to care for their health, better wages, and more opportunities are what they need.


Adopt a spot !


When one takes up a task, a task that strives for change of any sort, a follow up is inevitable to ensure that the desired change did come about. For all those who wielded brooms, when it was cool to do so, the majority of them are just a bunch of conformists, conforming to a temporary social convention. Adopt a spot, any public spot at least a size of 500 sq feet. Clean it twice a week, minimum. Sweep the garbage to a corner. This will make it easier for the garbage collectors to clean up. Avoid bragging about it on social media, let people see for themselves and follow. It maybe a slower process, but it’ll stick.


Stricter action


This obviously, is for the civic body to enforce. However, if it comes to this – the need for stricter action, then society has already failed. Like little kids being punished for a petty offence they might’ve committed at school, it can’t come down to this. But then again, Singapore is the perfect example.  This is no intention, an effort to defame a campaign, however a mere suggestion to improve it, strengthen it and see its success. For the greater public, this costs nothing. There’s really no price to pay for not littering.



Youth Writer, Mumbai





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